International speaker highlights the role of culture in business at NNBW breakfast series event |

International speaker highlights the role of culture in business at NNBW breakfast series event

By Annie Conway
Dan Barnett

Culture can be a big factor in the success of a business.

“People think culture is soft,” Dan Barnett, the CEO and owner of The Primavera Company, a real estate and natural gas company, and chairman of Vistage Advisory Boards. “I am saying that culture is not soft.”

Barnett spoke at the NNBW Breakfast & Business event, sponsored by Nevada State Bank, titled “Make or Break Culture: Exceptional Results through People” earlier this month at the Atlantis Casino Resort. Barnett travels around the world speaking and consulting with companies. He has 28 years of experience running businesses. Barnett has held high-level positions for a variety of companies including Weyerhaeuser, Pillsbury, Nestlé and more.

According to Barnett, people create a company’s success and culture is about the way people behave in a company.

“Most of (a company’s) resources are people and it is not easy to get people to do what you want them to do. In fact, it is pretty difficult.”

He said an employee’s beliefs drive behaviors and it is those behaviors that get results.

“So if you want people to commit to your organization … get clear about what (your company) believes in, then get clear about the behaviors and then you will get the results you want.”

He gave some examples based on his experience about how culture can give a company a competitive advantage.

Barnett said when he became the president of Weyerhaeuser’s disposable diaper business the company owned 66 percent of the private label diaper market and company had built the business model on being a low-cost producer. However, the quality of the products was very poor and they were hardly making any money. They knew that they needed to make a change. So, Barnett took his entire management team, about 19 people, on a two-week trip to Japan to study approximately a dozen companies that had won awards for quality.

“We came back and we were on fire about quality, and it changed everything,” Barnett said.

Within two years, they were able to increase their market segment by 45 percent and the margins went up by 41 percent.

Barnett also gave an example from his time at Juicy Juice, a 100 percent juice product for kids. Juicy Juice is part of Nestlé and Barnett was brought into the company with the goal to make Juicy Juice the number one brand of 100 percent juices in the United States.

Barnett found that many of the current employees did not believe in their existing products. He decided to move the division of the company from New York to San Francisco.

“My thinking was only half of the people would make the move,” Barnett said. “I was going to make sure it was the right half.”

Only three of 55 employees in the division made the moved. When they hired new people, they made sure they hired people who believed in Juicy Juice as a great product.

“In three years we went from $63 million in sales to $175 million in sales and all that really changed was the culture,” Barnett said

Each company’s culture is going to be unique.

Barnett stressed to the attendees the importance defining a company’s culture by having an updated and clear mission and vision statement. The mission statement should be something that inspires a company’s employees and customers and that a company can broadcast to the world.

“It is what you stand for as a company,” he said.

He said that a company’s vision statement is an internal message that describes the future of the company to its employees in a clear, specific and measurable method.

“If you can show progress toward your vision it builds energy and confidence,” he said.

The next NNBW Breakfast & Business Series event will be from 7 to 9 a.m., April 6 at the Atlantis Casino Resort. The event will feature Terry A. Shirey, the president and chief executive officer for Nevada State Bank. Shirey will present insights from Nevada State Bank’s annual Small Business Survey. To RSVP for the event, go to