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NPC chief honored for work, service

It’s fair to say Mark Barnhart is a reluctant winner.

“I am very proud to receive the award, but I am uncomfortable with the ‘I.’ For me, it has always been a ‘we,'” Barnhart said.

Barnhart, owner and chairman of the board of NPC Inc., will be honored Monday as the 19th winner of the Blair County Chamber’s Lifetime Achievement Award for Business Excellence.

He was named winner of the award in 2020, but the presentation dinner was postponed three times because of COVID-19.

The chamber created the Lifetime Achievement Award in 2002 to recognize business leaders who have made a difference in the community for an extended period of time.

Barnhart, 60, is the youngest winner of the award.

“It speaks to the regard that his nominators and the selection committee have for him that his monumental accomplishments are deemed worthy despite the fact that his best days may actually be ahead of him. There’s little doubt that he’s far from done,” said Chamber President/CEO Joe Hurd. “Anyone who knows Mark, who has witnessed his incredible drive and who has understood what a community advocate he is will probably consider his selection as long overdue.”

Barnhart is a very deserving winner, said Marty Marasco, retired president/CEO of Altoona Blair County Development Corp.

“Mark is just an outstanding person, an outstanding and successful businessman and family man, he loves the community and the people who work for him. He has done so many things for his employees above and beyond what a normal employer would do,” Marasco said. “He is a strategic thinker, always thinking about the future and how to improve the situation for his employees and the community as a whole.”

Barnhart grew up in Roaring Spring, the son of Barney and Charlotte Barnhart, who founded News Printing Co. In 1954.

After graduating from Central High School and studying English at Penn State, Mark went to work at a printing company in Washington, D.C., in which his father has an ownership interest.

He stayed there for 2.5 years until the business closed. He came home to get married and work for the family business. “It was something I wanted to do,” he said.

He took over ownership of the business in the late 1980s.

“Dad and I structured a buyout, and I took over the business and put my team together, we took the business in different directions,” Barnhart said.

He said his father instilled good values in him.

“My dad didn’t teach me specific things about the business, he taught me the important things. He said as an owner it can be what you want it to be if you have the principles and values and work hard and have the risk for aptitude it requires,” Barnhart said.

Given new name

Under Mark’s leadership, the business, renamed NPC in 1997, has grown from 50 to 500 employees and has seen its revenues increase 50 times since he took over.

What started out as a printing business has become a delivery engine for critical information that customers depend on. NPC makes the management of print, web and mobile communications easy, saving customers valuable time, money and frustration throughout the lifecycle of communication programs.

NPC serves various industries including federal, state and local government, high stakes testing, survey data collection, collection letter outsourcing and commercial printing, according to the company website.

Barnhart said NPC is more mission focused than vision focused.

“The mission has been the same for 30 years — helping self-reliant individuals achieve their standard and quality of living. I am proud we have been consistent with that philosophy. We have created an extended family-type of environment, a lot of us have been together for more than 40 years. It is fun to be in the succession stage with my three kids part of that succession team. We always have been a small company in a rural area, we are not going to change that. We feel like we are making a difference in the community, we take a lot of pride in that,” Barnhart said.

Importance of family

When asked about his greatest individual accomplishment he cites his family.

“It is my wife and kids. I have the perfect wife and kids and nine grandchildren and my extended family, the people who work for us who have been together for so long,” Barnhart said.

His wife, Karen, three children and son-in-law, work for the family business.

He said his parents were his role models when growing up.

“A lot of the culture of our organization is rooted in my mom — be kind, don’t take yourself too seriously because no one else will,” Barnhart said.

He also cited the late Irv Kosloff, founder of Roosevelt Paper Co. and founder and former owner of the Philadelphia 76ers.

Ask right questions

“He spent significant time with me when I first got into business. He helped me to do a lot of things. He said it was more important to ask the right question than having the right answer,” Barnhart said.

He also mentioned Ben Stapelfeld, co-founder of New Pig Corp., as a good friend and mentor.

“He is not only a sounding board, his willingness to share the breadth of his business, is important to me and the company,” Barnhart said.

Giving back to the community is very important to Barnhart and his company.

“The influence we can have in the community is extremely important, whether time or treasures we put toward things. I’ve never tried to make an award holding a check to show what we are doing. We do it because it needs done and is meaningful to the community. We do a lot of things that were done quietly, we don’t seek the publicity,” Barnhart said. “We are most proud of our connection to the Claysburg Education Foundation.”

Donated iPads

“We have had a working relationship for seven years since the foundation was started,” said Education Foundation board member Richard Allison. “He has been fully involved in time personally and his staff with time. This guy is amazing, his financial resources have been amazing. Four years ago, he provided iPads for every kid at Claysburg-Kimmel. Last year, he donated 140 computers. We started a pre-K about one year ago. His assistance and donations got it off the ground.”

“If anyone in the community needs something they go to his company and they come through to help with what is needed. He is an unsung hero,” Allison said.

Barnhart hopes people remember him in a good way.

“That I was honest and transparent with them, that I cared and I loved sharing with them. People I worked with the longest, I hope that they have enjoyed being part of our story and taking the journey with us,” Barnhart said.

Succession plan set

Banhart said he has no plans to retire but said a succession plan involving his children is in place.

“I continue to invest in a lot of other things that create new opportunities for the business and create new platforms,” Barnhart said.

He also said the future of NPC is bright.

“I see continued growth, continuing down the path of diversification. Technology will continue to evolve and change, and we have a company that is able to adapt to it,” Barnhart said.

The Chamber’s Business Excellence Dinner will be held Monday at The Casino at Lakemont Park. The event includes a reception that begins at 5:30 p.m., followed by dinner at 6:45.

Mirror Staff Writer Walt Frank is at 814-946-7467.

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