• Jul 24th 2009 at 9:01AM
  • 37
Who among us doesn't have at least one blue-and-yellow can sitting on the shelf near the tools? WD-40 and its secret formula has been often imitated, but the small San Diego firm long resisted the temptation to spread itself thin with too many other products. Under the leadership of one John S. Barry, the company took a single product – one that had taken 40 tries to get right – and built it into the Kleenex of lubricant products, good for $317 million in sales last year. The man who kept his focus firmly on making the best single product of its type has passed away at the age of 84.

John Barry's demeanor as the top dog of WD-40 Co. is an admirable example for fatcat CEOs that are so addicted to costly perks. Barry himself acknowledged that his style was that of "breaking all the Harvard Business School rules." He answered his own phone. He flew coach. Meetings were sometimes held at Denny's. The proof of Barry's keen instincts can be seen by the myriad of copycat products laid to waste by WD-40's dominance.

Despite the assertions that a single-product company would never make it, WD-40 is very much still around thanks to John Barry's refusal to tinker with his product and its ever-increasing list of unique uses. The company now has other highly regarded products in its porfolio, such as Spot Shot carpet cleaner, Lava soap, and 3-in-1 Oil – perhaps the only other lubricant that's nearly as universal and also has a delightfully distinct aroma, just like its blue and yellow shelfmate.

[Source: The Los Angeles Times]


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  • 37 Comments
      • 6 Years Ago
      According to a "Modern Marvels" episode I caught a few months ago WD-40 is more popular than Coca Cola at least in America.
      • 6 Years Ago
      WD-40?
      Never heard of it.
      • 6 Years Ago
      i owe this man a great debt. wd-40 got threw alot of shock and strut changes he deserves a nobel prize.
      • 6 Years Ago
      This guy and his product have had a greater influence on American productivity than many will ever know.
      • 6 Years Ago
      Thank you Mr. Barry.

      Send a small can with him just in case the gates need a shot-or-two.
      • 6 Years Ago
      RIP knowing that your product is one of the best things ever created.
      pocketfulloftoys
      • 6 Years Ago
      "He answered his own phone. He flew coach. Meetings were sometimes held at Denny's."

      This was my kind of CEO...not so sure about Denny's, though. IHOP anyone?
      • 6 Years Ago
      I am from Pakistan and have been using WD-40 since i was 10 years old.

      Truly amazing product thats famous worldwide.

      My Respects to Mr. Berry.

      Faisal
      • 6 Years Ago
      I just hope the next generations of management at the company follow his example. It is always a shame when someone like this passes and the next person has a grand plan to change everything.
      • 6 Years Ago
      Thanks Barry! you are truly one of the great Americans. Someone with TRUE AMERICAN VALUES. That didn't need a bail-out, and represents Americans in fine fashion. And from MinneeSotah!
      • 6 Years Ago
      R.I.P.
      Great product you created there.
      • 6 Years Ago
      RIP
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