John W. Barfield (February 8, 1927 - January 2, 2018) was a prominent black entrepreneur and philanthropist in the Ypsilanti area. Born to sharecroppers in Tuscaloosa, Alabama, he arrived in Ypsilanti in high school before dropping out to enlist in the Army, serving in France and Germany immediately after World War II. On his return, John married Betty Barfield and began working as a custodian for the University of Michigan.
John and Betty started their first business in Ypsilanti in 1955, called the Barfield Cleaning Company, which eventually employed 200 people before the Barfields sold the company in 1969. The two founded several additional companies. The Bartech Group, which they sold in 2015, is based in Southfield, employing 3,000 and managing 120,000 contract workers worldwide, as of 2018.
Barfield received numerous awards for his business and philanthropic activities, and published a memoir in 2014, Starting from Scratch: The Humble Beginnings of a Two Billion-Dollar Enterprise.
- John Barfield's obituary in Business Wire: https://www.businesswire.com/news/home/20180104006493/en/Bartech-Founder-John-W.-Barfield-Business-Legend
Book Starting from Scratch:
- Book website: http://www.johnwbarfield.com/
- Ypsilanti District Library listing: http://ypsdl.ent.sirsi.net/client/en_US/default/search/results/?op=Go%21&qu=starting+from+scratch&rt=al
- Ann Arbor District Library listing: https://aadl.org/catalog/record/10152736
John and Betty Barfield Community Investment Fund for Parkridge at Ann Arbor Area Community Foundation: http://www.aaacf.org/barfield