Third-Gen Dallas Stone and Masonry Company Continues to Lead the Next Generation

Words: Isa Stein

Dee Brown, Inc. (DBI) has helped shape the landscape in cities across the country with incredible buildings ranging from skyscrapers to institutional and medical buildings to extraordinary large-scale art installations. Third-generation CEO Robert V. “Rob” Barnes III is more focused on the future than the past.

The J. Paul Getty Center, Los Angeles- Upon completion in 1997, the $66 million contract was one of the single largest stone installations in the U.S.

“Our greatest challenge is inspiring and teaching the next generation,” explained Rob Barnes. “We have a wealth of experienced masons and superintendents in our ranks. What keeps me awake at night is wondering who will replace them over the next decade? We’re hiring and training the next generation as quickly as we can. Our methods of engagement and training new team members are continually evolving. We are going to continue to make course adjustments as we seek a long-term, sustainable solution for our workforce.” 

In June 1999 Dee Brown, Inc built the castle at Camp Wisdom for the Boy Scouts of America in Dallas. The troop named the castle “Ye Olde Castle of Sir Dee Brown.”

Rob began his career in 1986, working on the Meyerson Symphony Center in Dallas as a non-skilled laborer on the trash crew. He received his Bachelor’s in Business Management from John Brown University in 1992, and his M.B.A. from Southern Methodist University in 2007. Buddie Barnes, Rob’s father, began his career learning estimating in 1968.  His career with Dee Brown spans more than 50 years.  Since he handed the reigns over to Rob in 2016, he has continued to serve as Chairman of the Board and has stayed involved with MCAA industry initiatives. 

Rob Barnes’ grandfather, C. Dewitt “Dee” Brown, Jr., was just 16 years old when he began his masonry career. Upon graduation from Adamson High School in Dallas, Dee served a four-year Union Bricklayer apprenticeship with O’Rourke Construction. He worked several years as a bricklayer, then joined TXI, where he became the company’s top masonry salesman. 

DBI’s milestones over the last 65 years include: 

C. Dewitt Brown, Jr.
Founder of Dee Brown
  • In 1955, Dee founded Dee Brown Masonry out of his home at the age of 26. The company grew into a national leader in the stone and masonry industry. 
  • 1962: Dee built his first office, shop and warehouse in northeast Dallas.
  • 1976: Dee Brown Masonry acquired Cardinal Masonry Company of Houston and Southwest Masonry, Inc. of Austin.
  • 1980: Dee Brown Inc. is formed with Dallas, Houston and Austin divisions.
  • 1990: Robert V. “Buddie” Barnes, Jr. is named president and chief operating officer, bringing a second-generation family member into the leadership position. Dee Brown continues as CEO and chairman of the board.
  • 2000: Buddie Barnes becomes chairman of the board, president and CEO. Dee Brown is named chairman emeritus. Dee passes away April 25, 2000.
  • 2008: All operations are consolidated at DBI headquarters in Dallas. Buddie Barnes is named chairman and CEO. Robert V. "Rob" Barnes, III, Dee Brown’s grandson, becomes DBI’s third president and COO. Rob becomes only the fourth person in the country to complete all the requirements for the MCAA National Certified Mason Contractor.  
  • 2010: DBI opens its 8,000 square-foot stone fabrication facility to focus on the high-end residential market, in addition to supporting DBI’s core business.  

L to R:  Floyd Buster Slavens, Richard L. Trout, Michael D. Humphrey, Robert V. "Rob" Barnes, III behind Robert V. "Buddie" Barnes, Jr. in 2001
  • 2012: Dee Brown is posthumously inducted into the first class of the Masonry Contractors Association of America’s (MCAA) Hall of Fame. The C. Dewitt Brown Leadman Award is presented each year to an individual who provides exemplary leadership in advancing the masonry industry. Buddie Barnes was awarded this honor in 2012.
  • 2014: Rob obtains certifications as NSI National Accredited Commercial “A” Stone Installer, and NSI Nationally Accredited Natural Stone Fabricator.
  • 2015: Buddie Barnes retires and becomes chairman of the board. Rob V.  Barnes III is named president and CEO. Rob is named the Building Stone Institute Person of the Year.  
  • 2016: Buddie Barnes is inducted into the MCAA Masonry Hall of Fame. DBI is the only company with multiple recipients.
  • 2020: DBI celebrates 65 years of business with a legacy of leadership built on family values of honesty, hard work and ethics.

“I’m very proud of the company my family has built,” says Rob Barnes. “But we can’t take all the credit. We’ve had some incredible leaders within DBI step up to guide each new generation along. Quality has always been non-negotiable. We are committed to using the best materials and doing exemplary workmanship.”

Presidential Center, Dallas - Burt Burbidge, Masonry Superintendent & Foreman, with former President George W. Bush

Rob Barnes has served on many community and industry boards and committees such as TEXO – Association of General Contractors, Texas Masonry Council (TMC), Masonry Contractors Association of America (MCAA), Marble Institute of America (MIA), Building Stone Institute (BSI), the Natural Stone Institute (NSI), and the University of Texas at Dallas Center for Brain Health. He served as president for the TMC, BSI, and NSI.  

American Airlines Center - Home of the Dallas Mavericks and Dallas Stars

“As we look into the future, we are actively recruiting men and women who are eager to learn and take pride in their work,” concludes Barnes. “We provide on the job training and continue to train our employees for success as they continue to grow. We see women in the field as a great asset and would like to hire more. We were able to recruit Lucia Trujillo, 23, through her four older brothers who all work for DBI. She loves the work because she’s always learning and doing something new each day.”

Dee Brown Inc. has been entrusted with iconic projects such as the American Airlines Center; Nasher Sculpture Center; George W. Bush Presidential Center; Dallas’ Old Red Courthouse; The Getty Center in Los Angeles; Meyerson Symphony Center; Houston Museum of Natural Science; Dallas Country Club; Hunt Oil Headquarters; Trammel Crow Center; AT&T Stadium and many others. More information about the company can be found at deebrowncompanies.com.

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