Obituary 01 Aug 2019

James Barbera 1940-2019

James (Jim) Barbera, the founder of Barbco, a manufacturer of trenchless installation equipment, and an influential figure in the trenchless industry, died on 8 July 2019 aged 79.

James Barbera
James Barbera

A graduate of Timken Vocational High School, Barbera went on to serve in the US Army, before working for the Canton City Police Department until 1974. He worked then for his brother, Leo Barbera, at American Augers. During his 10 years at American Augers, he oversaw the sales department and had direct oversight of several initiatives, including the reconditioning of a 19ft Robbins TBM. He was also an active organiser in the auger boring schools that were held in Arizona.

In 1989, after brother Leo sold American Augers, Barbera founded Barbco, which was incorporated in the same year. Based in Twinsburg, Ohio, for the first six months, the company manufactured directional drills and pilot tube machines. Since its founding, the company has expanded considerably in both facility size and product line. It moved to East Canton, Ohio, in 2003, where it has been run by three of his sons for the past five years.

Jim and Leo Barbera, centre left and right respectively, receiving their Lifetime Achievement Awards with Professor Tom Iseley (left) and friends
Jim and Leo Barbera, centre left and right respectively, receiving their Lifetime Achievement Awards with Professor Tom Iseley (left) and friends

Both Barbera brothers were recently honoured by the Trenchless Technology Center (TTC) at Louisiana Tech University with Lifetime Achievement Awards for their contributions to the trenchless industry. Additionally, a brand new training and educational facility, the Barbera Education, Research and Training (BERT) Facility, is being erected in the family’s honour at Louisiana Tech University.

“From the first time I met Jim over 30 years ago, I was impressed with his commitment to workforce development,” said Tom Iseley, Professor of Civil Engineering and Construction Engineering Technology and Associate Director of TTC at Louisiana Tech University. “He clearly understood that organisations could have the best equipment in the world but without properly trained and motivated crews, successful projects are at risk.”

Barbera was “well respected throughout the industry for quality equipment and his love for people,” continued Iseley. “When I was conceiving the vision for a world-class field training facility, I was pleased to learn that Jim had a similar vision, and he was overwhelmed to have it named after him.”

Add your comment

Thank you for taking the time to share your thoughts and comments. You share in the wider tunnelling community, so please keep your comments smart and civil. Don't attack other readers personally, and keep your language professional.
In case of an error submitting Feedback, copy and send the text to
Name :

Date :

Email :

Phone No :

   Security Image Refresh
Enter the security code :
No spaces, case-sensitive