HB Blog

Insights from the leadership at HB on technology and culture

HB Communications mourns passing of founder, Mackey Barron.

on November 01, 2015

Mackey Barron, born on February 19, 1920 in Boston, Massachusetts passed away on Tuesday October 27, 2015. As President of HB Communications, Inc. for more than 6 decades he was a pioneer and leader in the audio video Industry.

Growing up during the Great Depression Mackey learned the value of hard work. A turning point in his life occurred during a high school assembly where a reel of film broke loose and rolled past him in the auditorium. The 16 year old Mackey picked it up, wound it neatly, and returned it to the projector ready to run. What seemed like an insignificant event had a great impact on his life.  Shortly after that, an uncle introduced him to Mary Sullivan who ran Catholic Film Services. Mackey began working there part-time in October of 1937 and upon graduating from high school started working there full time.

On January 23, 1942, he joined the Air Force and was sent to base camp at Esler Field in Alexandra, LA. where the ran the base theatre with another man. Here he witnessed first-hand how quickly and easily these technologies could be used for training.

In 1943, as a second Lieutenant, he flew P40, P51, B24 and B17 planes. As a member of “Wild Bill Donovan’s OSS Team,” he was known as a “Carpetbagger”. Mackey’s job was to support the “resistance” by delivering spies, supplies, and ammunition to the Danish underground. On the group’s 13th mission disaster struck when his plane was shot down. Mackey bailed out of his plane injuring his leg badly on the tail rudder but crawled to a nearby home where he was captured by a German patrol. Mackey became a POW and remained in German camp Stalag 3 until the end of the war. While in camp, AV skills came in handy because he ran the film projectors there too.  The Salvation Army would drop supplies, some of which were movies and he was the only one who could run the projector, sometimes all day and night.

For his service during the war he was awarded the War Cross Medal 1939-1945 with Palm, “A magnificent unit, distinguished itself by its determination, its bravery, and its spirit of sacrifice.Upon returning home from the war, Mr. Barron took his $328.00 and a $5,000 loan from his cousin and began HB Motion Picture Service. In 1947 HB moved to a 400 sq. ft. facility on George Street in New Haven and in 1957 HB moved to a 3000 sq. ft. facility on Audio Lane. HB remained in that building for 29 years.  “As new technologies developed over the years and generous educational grants became available, we expanded our vision to embrace the overall audio and visual needs of school systems,” said Barron. In 1965, prompted by this commitment to serve the educational community became HB Educational Systems.

“HB survived when others failed because of our ability to recognize the best technologies to invest in and the right people to sell products that customers need.” In 1986 HB expanded again and moved to a 97,200 sq. ft. facility in North Haven, CT. HB changed its name to HB Communications, Inc. reflecting the expanding customer base from exclusively educational clientele to a growing corporate customer base.  According to Barron, “This change reflects our promise to our customers to recognize no boundaries in our pledge to meet and exceed all of their present and future communications needs.”

Today HB Communications executes work globally and is the 6th largest AV company in the world with over 400 employees and offices in New York, NJ, VT, and Boston.

“It is our ability to imagine what the future holds for us that helps us evolve as a company and profit from that foresight. There is going to be more specialization in our industry as advancements require diverse and larger skill sets. ”