Jean Bartell Barber (Video)

Video / External content not produced by TOW Project

"If you're going to be successful in business, you've got to be willing to serve." Jean Bartell Barber is the Vice-Chairman of Bartell Drugs, the largest pharmacy chain in the Seattle area.


The company was started by my grandfather in 1890, then run by my father. The two of them ran the company for the first 100 years.

I’ve in some respects been with the company all my life. My name’s Jean Bartell Barber. I’m a 3rd generation Bartell at Bartell drugs.

We actually had at one point a copy of an ad that my grandfather had placed in the newspaper back in like the 1920s. He actually talked about the golden rule in his ad, when he was talking to his customers. He was all about: “If you’re going to be successful in business, you’ve got to be willing to serve.” So it really is ingrained in the culture of the company. The whole purpose and reason we feel in owning a family company is to be able to serve.

We’ve had pharmacists actually meet a train that was getting into Seattle late after hours, to be able to give somebody a prescription they needed that night.

Any customer complaint that comes into the company, we follow up. Any phone call that comes in where a customer is complaining, an executive will always call them back. So we really do try to live out that service mentality.

About 15 years ago we brought in a consultant. They wanted to go out and interview various employees and talk to them about what they thought the culture meant. When they finished they said it was so interesting that what they kept hearing was the golden rule.

One of our values is integrity. And then we actually say what that means. It’s treating others the way you would want to be treated. So when someone comes into our store, treat them the way you would want them to treat you. Treat them as if they’re coming into your own home. Because when you’re at work, our store is your home.

The inspiration for me to be this kind of leader is just my faith. People see that in me and they appreciate that in me. They talk about that. And it opens doors.

We can talk about the Christian values without tying it back to the Bible and to Christianity. I think it’s such a strong message, and it’s one that I think in most people’s hearts they find truth in that.

It’s far easier when you can help someone and they’re very grateful. Not everyone’s grateful. You just have to keep going back to the life and the gospel of Jesus.

This video helps illustrate Jesus' teaching in "The Golden Rule (Matthew 7:12)" in Matthew and Work at

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