jackBy Jann Wiswall

Jack Bares, an Ellicottville fixture for some 50 years until his death in January 2012, was posthumously inducted into the Northeast Ohio Business Hall of Fame on Thursday, Nov. 7, 2013, at the Intercontinental Hotel, Cleveland. The honor is given to “the men and women who have helped to create Northeast Ohio’s industries and shaped the area’s economic landscape” by Inside Business magazine.

Bares did, indeed, make an impact on the economic landscape in many ways, and not just in Ohio. His various companies, most of which involved tool manufacturing, were where his curiosity and build-a-better-mousetrap attitude were able to thrive. Some of his ideas turned into patented inventions for tools that solved problems for customers all over the world.

Bares owned Cleveland specialty tool manufacturer, the Milbar Company for nearly 40 years. In 1995, Milbar was purchased from Bares by his daughter, Lori Bares Northrup, who owns Stride Tool, with offices in Ellicottville and manufacturing facilities in Glenwillow, Ohio.

Bares wasn’t just interested in his own business. He also was committed to helping other small businesses that were trying to compete with the Fortune 500 set. With several other business movers and shakers in Cleveland, Bares helped found the Council of Smaller Enterprises (COSE), a small business support organization that, according to its Web site, “provides cost-effective group purchasing programs, advocacy on legislative and regulatory issues and networking and education resources to help Northeast Ohio’s small businesses grow.”

“COSE was one of Jack’s proudest achievements,” said Alice Bares, who married Jack in 1956. One of its first goals was to pool the resources and strengths of its member businesses to provide health insurance to their employees. “This became a national model” for the power of group purchasing, Alice said.

COSE also became a leader in providing continuing education for its members. Bares took the lead in developing a Strategic Planning course for members, which now is a nine-month, intensive mentoring program for business owners to help them analyze their business, evaluate the competition and prepare for future growth. More than 1,000 business leaders have taken the course to date.

“I think his involvement in COSE was the primary reason for this honor,” said Alice, who attended the event with the couple’s four children, two of their grandchildren, other family members, friends and several Stride Tool employees. “Jack received many awards over the years, but it is very nice that his contributions were recognized even after his death.”