Filling the roles of both Vice President as well as Project Manager at Barnes & Dodge, Russ Phelps assists with everything from daily operations to fabrication, manpower and material procurement. In fact, he describes himself simply as a “man of many hats.”

Keeping the company on the cutting edge of technology has always been one of Russ’s priorities. He was an early advocate of CAD and other advanced computer programs that have kept Barnes & Dodge at the forefront of the industry. That, along with innovations in material moving and handling, has enabled Russ and his team to successfully manage complex projects such as the Sporting KC Stadium, Bayer Animal Health Division, and Sprint World Headquarters.

Russ first worked with sheet metal the summer after his high school graduation. Realizing that he enjoyed working with his hands, he began a four-year apprenticeship in the trade. He started his career at Barnes & Dodge in 1981.

Having grown up with the familiarity of the workers from Barnes & Dodge, Russ looked forward to building on the company tradition. He felt an organization should be a home to its workers, where employees are treated like family.

“Personally, I meet every person we hire. I want them to feel like they’re not just a number. I want them to know who I am. It takes all of us to do this. It’s everybody’s company.”

Russ credits most of what he’s learned to his father Skip, the CEO at Barnes & Dodge. Skip taught Russ his most important life lesson: Maintain a strong work ethic, and lead by example. “You work hard, you’re here on time every day, until quitting time and beyond.”