Business: A Family Tradition

An Employee’s Perspective

By: Kati Jo Barber, Regional Account Executive

Tradition has always been very important to me. The day I was born, I was given the name Kati Jo; named for both my maternal great grandmother, Katie, and my maternal grandmother, Josie. Although I’ve never met her, my house is filled with Great Grandmother Katie’s old furniture. I’ve spent countless hours in the kitchen with Granny (Josie), and we’ve even written a cookbook together. I love feeling connected to my family roots, history and tradition.


Image from The Fricassee 1947

Some of my favorite stories about Granny revolve around how much she hated school. We often joke with her about how she disliked sewing class so much that she brought her project home and had Great Grandmother Katie sew it for her. She avoided getting involved, but the one club she did join was the Distributors’ Club. She said she joined because she got to leave school early, but that meant she had to spend the second half of her day at a job. The club helped her get a job at Goudchaux’s. She worked in the sports wear department, and still remembers buying her graduation dress from the store for $17. She recently pulled out her yearbook and pointed to the Goudchaux’s ad in the back, which read, “Baton Rouge’s Most Popular Department Store.” Granny said that was a very true statement.


Photo from The Advocate

My dad was one of eight children; 6 of whom were boys. I can only imagine how much trouble they used to get into when they were growing up. Every year, my grandmother would take them to Goudchaux’s to get their school uniforms. My dad and uncles still tell stories about hiding in the racks, and poking each other with straight pins they would find in the cracks of the floors. My favorite story is when the oldest three boys, my dad included, went into the store for the first time with their new baby sister, Evelyn. Mr. Erich Sternberg offered each of the boys their very own pony as a trade if they would give him their new baby sister. The Barber boys left very disappointed that day when their mother wouldn’t agree to the trade. Years later, my dad went back to Goudchaux’s to work in the young men’s department. He still loves to give advice on clothing, so I am sure he was a great salesman at the store for his 3 years there. He was excited to tell me that within 6 months of working, he was a manager. And, his department had the second highest increase in sales after he took over. His secret to success was getting to work early every day to organize his department before opening.


When I began the interview process at Highflyer HR, I had no idea that I was interviewing at a Sternberg company. I was so excited to later find out, because I know and appreciate the impact they have had on my family, the business community, and the city of Baton Rouge. I was thrilled to accept the job as Highflyer HR’s Regional Account Executive. Every day I get to work with business owners and HR professionals to improve their human capital management processes. My background as a custom software project manager helps me to guide my clients from the decision making process through implementation of the Highflyer HR software.


It is truly an honor to work for the Sternbergs. I’ve already learned so much about business, hard work, customer service and leadership from them, and to get to work early! I am proud to be a third generation Sternberg employee. I will work hard to make not only my family proud, but the Sternbergs, too!