Passionate for business, he leaves it behind |

Passionate for business, he leaves it behind

John Seelmeyer

Bill Barth is so passionate about the

battle against skin cancer that he came out

of retirement to launch a company that

makes sunscreen.

Then he discovered that his passion

runs so deep that he’ll step away from the

company and devote himself instead to a

nonprofit foundation that raises awareness

of skin cancer.

In all, it’s been an unusual year for the

Minden businessman.

He came to northern Nevada a couple

of years ago after retiring twice once

from a successful printing company in the

Bay area, once from a horse operation he’d

built near Gilroy, Calif.

A two-time survivor of skin cancer, the

60-year-old Barth became aware of the

dangers of Nevada’s blue skies shortly

after moving to Douglas County.

“The altitude and the sun were just

incredible,” he said last week.

Consumers go to the store to buy sunscreen;

entrepreneurs decide to create

their own product. About a year ago,

Barth began working with Skinvisible

Pharmaceuticals Inc. of Las Vegas, which

has patented a polymer delivery system

that allows sunscreen to stay on longer

and feel dry to the skin.

“If you don’t have something different,

you’re not going to compete,” he said.

Barth’s new company, All Pro Sports

Co., had products ready to roll out early

this year but discovered that distribution

channels were clogged with a multitude

of competing products, many of them

produced by companies far more wellheeled

than a tiny startup in rural


All Pro Sports’ products are sold in

golf pro shops and other outlets, largely

around northern Nevada, but the company

hasn’t been able to crack the national

mass merchandisers.

Looking for a way to differentiate All

Pro Sports in the crowded marketplace,

Barth got in contact with The National

Foundation for Cancer Research. The

nonprofit based in Bethesda, Md., has

provided about $180 million for cancer

research since it was founded in 1973.

The entrepreneur and the nonprofit

nailed down a partnership:

Together, they’ll sponsor about 40

“Walk for Awareness” events around the

nation to increase public awareness of

skin cancer.

All Pro Sports, meanwhile, will use

sales of sunscreen products to support the

foundation’s work.

But Barth worried that the campaign

against skin cancer might suffer if

observers believed he stood to gain financially

from the partnership.

So he gave up the presidency of the


Instead, he launched a nonprofit

The Skin Cancer Awareness Foundation

and will devote his days to telling the

public about the dangers of skin cancer

and their ability to do something about


“We wanted to keep them separate,”

Barth said.

In his work with the foundation,

Barth says that about a million

Americans a year develop skin cancer,

and he says that about 40 to 50 percent

of all Americans who live to age 65 will

develop some form of skin cancer in their

lives. Many of them are fatal.

“Our partnership with All Pro Sports

is a first step in educating the public on

the very real danger of skin cancer to

Americans”, said Franklin C. Salisbury,

Jr., president of the National Foundation

for Cancer Research. “By providing both

information and products that protect

people from the damage of the sun,

everyone benefits from this campaign.

Most importantly, more money will be

raised to support research that will hopefully

lead to a cure for skin cancer.”

The question for All Pro Sports now

is how well it’s able to build a distribution

network before its big summer sales

season arrives.

But Barth no longer has a question

whether he’s doing the right thing.

“I didn’t really need a product,” he

said. “This is what I really wanted to