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40 Under 40 - Class of 2021
Business Observer Thursday, Oct. 7, 2021 1 month ago

Aaron Barney, 37

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Digital Lead Performance, COO and Operating partner 
by: Mark Gordon Managing Editor

Aaron Barney calls himself a dirt bike kid.

And back in Northern Michigan, growing up, Barney was pretty sure he would end up in a career connected to motorsports. Now at the helm of one of the fastest-growing companies in Southwest Florida, driven in part, of course, by motorcycles, he’s exceeded even his own expectations.

Barney is the COO and original idea behind Fort Myers-based Digital Lead Performance. Founded in 2018, the mission of DLP is to provide powersports dealers, including Harley Davidson locations, digital leads for customers. The company does that, says Barney and his mentor and business partner Scott Fischer, by providing better response times, quality showroom appointments and stronger sales opportunities for dealers.

Digital Lead Performance — projecting around $5 million in revenue in 2021 — has had some rocket-like growth in the past three years. It’s helped its 70 or so dealer clients sell nearly 7,500 motorcycles, resulting in more than $136 million in revenue. It has 65 employees and, in the surefire sign of a fast-growing company, keeps moving into bigger offices — four across Fort Myers since 2018. “We have never completed a lease,” Barney says. “We are outgrowing them before they are due.”

Barney says DLP is also committed to expanding outside motorsports, recently signing a deal with a marine company to assist with digital leads for boat sales. “Any company that generates digital leads,” says Barney, “we want to work with them.”

Barney talks about DLP with the entrepreneurial excitement and enthusiasm similar to how Fischer, his longtime mentor, built Scott Fischer Enterprises. At its peak in 2014, that company had $121 million in annual revenue and some 360 employees. Barney joined Scott Fischer Enterprises in 2002 as a parts associate and worked his way up over the next 15 years. “I just fell in love with the culture Scott had established,” says Barney of Fischer, a onetime Business Observer Top Entrepreneur, lauded for his transparent leadership and penchant for following the rule of surrounding yourself with people smarter than you. “I love the exciting environment he had created.”

Barney capitalized on that environment in 2018, when he approached Fischer about the idea for DLP. His boss loved it, and they moved quickly on the opportunity. Barney says in running DLP day-to-day he uses some key lessons learned from Fischer, including having clarity in the mission, communicating that mission often, and then reinforcing it. “I look at Scott as a father figure,” Barney says. “He not only hired me, but he’s allowed me to make mistakes and grow from them.”

Aaron Barney

Age: 37

City of Residence: Fort Myers

Employer: Digital Lead Performance (DLP)

Title: COO/Operating Partner

Birthplace: Grand Rapids, Michigan

Years in the area: 19

Marital Status/Children: Married/ Two Children

Alma Mater/Degree: North Central Michigan College

What community group or organization are you most involved with? Local Children Sports Organizations- Coaching

What's the weirdest job you've ever had? Undercover security

What's your top tip for being productive? To think strategically and define a short term Thematic Goals that allows you to drill down on two to three defining objectives that keeps you focused on what is most important right now while leveraging resources and empowering your team. This allows your team to remain focused and all rowing in the same direction towards that short-term goal.

If you could have a side hustle, what would it be? Real Estate

What's your favorite off-hours activity? Family Beach Days

Have you gone to the movies in 2021? If yes, what did you see? No- N/A

What's the top item on your bucket list? Scuba the Great Barrier Reef

What's your favorite podcast? Patrick Lencioni Podcast

Where is your happy place? Northern Michigan in the summer

Describe yourself in three words: Energetic, Positive, Creative

Who is your mentor for your career and why? Scott Fischer

What are the biggest lessons you have learned from your mentor? Understand and leverage your resources at all times. Always be a student of the business. Surround yourself with smarter people in the room than you are.

 

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