employees, families and friends participate in Duluth’s dragon boat race each summer

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John Quist

Vice President, Senior Civil Engineer

John Quist with a bass caught on Lake Vermilion
John Quist with daughter Jenna and wife Cheryl

John Quist is a man who loves the outdoors. His heart suggested a forestry career. His aptitude tests and practical nature led to an engineering degree from the University of Minnesota. Fortunately, that engineering aptitude and desire for fresh air were a great match for dam engineering—work John has done for 30 years, beginning with the design of the interior walk ways at Lake Byllesby Dam. “I was as inexperienced as you could get,” he said. “But, I was fortunate that people invested time in coaching and mentoring me.”

John has been at Barr since 1978, watching the company grow from about 60 employees to over 500, and managing increasingly complex projects. What he’s observed, he says, is the combined impact of dedicated people and effort. ”With a lot of hard work and a lot of good people around you, you can get a lot done.”

John’s certainly gotten a lot done. He’s solved a lot of problems and seen a lot of things built—two things that make his job enjoyable. Among the most satisfying projects have been those with unique twists: amusement park rides. “Once the skin is taken off the onion the engineering principles are still the same,” he said. “The same equations apply, but the application is very different."

In recent years, John has done a bit less calculating and more of the coaching and mentoring that were so important in shaping his career. He satisfies his desire to be outdoors with trips to Lake Vermilion, where he has a cabin. He loves fishing, though considers the actual catching and harvesting of fish to be unimportant—a point of contention with his wife, who wouldn’t mind a fish dinner. “I don’t have to catch and eat fish to enjoy it,” he said. “The sound of moving water is so relaxing.”