CEO leaves Defender Direct; founder retakes top spot

August 8, 2013

Marcia Barnes, who took over as CEO of one of the state's largest private companies 15 months ago, has left the firm.

Home services company Defender Direct Inc. announced Tuesday that Barnes left the company "to pursue other business interests." Her replacement is the company's founder, 44-year-old Dave Lindsey, who promoted Barnes to CEO before he left the company last April to pursue philanthropic interests. He retained majority ownership of the firm.

Barnes' departure was a "mutual decision" between the two, Lindsey told IBJ on Thursday.

He did not ask her to leave. "We thought it would be best for me to be in this role," Lindsey said.

Barnes, who joined Defender Direct in 1999, had been president of the company prior to the promotion. In a statement released by the company Thursday, Barnes said, "Dave and I had several meetings talking about the past, present and future of Defender. He is excited about the prospect of returning as CEO. I am very pleased with what we have accomplished together over the last 13 years.

"At this point I'm ready to take some time to reflect and then discover the next place I can add value helping businesses and people achieve their goals."

IBJ's efforts to contact Barnes earlier in the week were not successful.

Founded in 1998, Defender Direct reported revenue of $394.9 million in 2012, making it the 26th largest private company in the state, according to IBJ research. It has appeared several times on IBJ's annual Fastest-Growing List. It currently has about 2,400 employees, including 1,000 in Indiana.

Last October, the company strengthened its position as one the state's largest private companies when it acquired local heating, cooling and plumbing powerhouse Williams Comfort Air.

Lindsey praised Barnes' leadership role in the transaction. "Our business is stronger than it was," he said.
Barnes was one of only two female CEOs at the 50 largest private companies in Indiana as of the end of 2012. She began her career at Defender Direct in marketing and sales. She was named a "Woman of Influence," by IBJ in 2012.

During his time away from the CEO post, Lindsey and family members performed charity work, including mission trips to Japan, Uganda and Mexico. He remained on Defender's board and checked in with the company on a weekly basis.

"I still see Defender as my greatest opportunity to impact people's lives," Lindsey said. The firm's culture places an emphasis on mission work and personal development.



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