Barry Hall is something of a "fixer."
Whether it’s in a government office or on the water sailing the Caribbean, he finds a way to get it done.
Hall is the president of Governmental Enterprises, a Richmond Hill- based firm that offers suggestions to local governments on ways to address ongoing concerns dealing with growth, water and sewer issues, traffic and development impact fees, to name just a few.
In that vein, Hall’s company is spearheading the state-mandated update of the Bryan County Comprehensive Plan, a document that will address all of the above concerns, and considerably more.
"People do call us to ask if we can help address whatever situation that’s present at the time," he said. "What we’ve always tried to do is provide multiple solutions. There’s never just one answer that a city or county has.
"Our job is to identify every possible solution and give the elected officials at least two or three options – pro or con – to the best of our ability," he added. "Try as we might, we will never understand the local issues as well as the people who live there."
In the case of the Bryan County Comprehensive Plan, Hall lives in Richmond Hill, so this one might be considered a little more personal for him.
"Bryan County is my home. Planning for the future here is important," he said. "I travel the roads here every day and want the county to be the best it can be."
Hall and his team have been taking input from Bryan County community members the last several months about the direction they want to see the county move in the future. Those inputs have included concerns about traffic, schools, the way neighborhoods are planned and developed, commercial growth, parking requirements and more.
A preliminary draft of their findings was recently presented to Bryan County commissioners.
Hall noted that Commission Chairman Carter Infinger initially said that a comprehensive plan without sufficient community input was not very comprehensive.
"He wanted to make sure that the residents here had a voice in the direction their county was heading," Hall said. "That was very important to him. That initial draft will be available for review at county offices and online."
Hall’s company has been advising local governments since 1994, although his involvement in working with local governments can be traced to at least 1992 when he was teaching government officials and others at Georgia Tech.
Hall, who hails from Sumter County, laughs when he considers the term "fixer," although he doesn’t care for the word consultant.
"These smaller communities outside Atlanta, many of them were struggling and could use some outside perspective every bit as much as the larger cities," he said. "It’s just that these smaller communities can’t financially justify having a staff of employees to do these things fulltime. We’re willing to work hard and do it at a modest fee. Our very first client was the city of Hinesville and it started from there."
Since then, Hall’s company has advised more than 50 cities and counties that stretch across Georgia.
Much of the business that drives Governmental Enterprises can be traced to the yearly sessions of the Georgia legislature and the changes they make to state law.
"Every year local governments have to come into compliance to keep their status as qualified local governments," Hall said.
He jokes that the legislature and the yearly laws they pass help keep his company in business.
Hall is married to Zoe, a local real estate professional. They have three children and 15 grandchildren, ranging from toddler to 14 years old.
"It’s fun around our house on Christmas morning with everyone there. Every year, even to the adults, it’s a tradition that we give them Nerf guns to play with. It’s always the innocent bystander that gets hit," he laughed.
Hall tragically lost a daughter, Jaime, to brain cancer five years ago – a loss, he said, he will feel forever.
"I miss her every day," Hall said.
Hall moved to River Oaks Condominiums in Richmond Hill in 2005 after having lived most of his life in Cobb County. Nearly 80 percent of his business and time before then was spent in South Georgia, and he jokes that they knew him by name at the old Holiday Inn in Richmond Hill.
"It was time to open an office in South Georgia," he said.
But it’s not all work for Hall. Give him a body of water to navigate, whether a sailboat or cruise ship, and he’s happy.
"Zoe and I both love anything to do with the water. We love to sail. We try to get down to the islands every chance we get and rent a sailboat for a week. (We) just love island hopping. You have to understand that a sailboat is a floating camper," he said.
"We’ll rent a 30-foot sailboat. It’s an ideal size. Zoe is a much better sailor than I am. She can handle a boat far better than I can. We love to sail to the Virgin Islands. I love the concept that you can, literally, go around the world on a single tank of gas. You just need the motor to go into the harbor and dock."
As much as he loves sailing, however, he says that he always likes to keep land within sight and tries to ensure that a good restaurant is not far away.
"If we can’t go sailing, then we love to go on a cruise ship. Zoe and I both love the Caribbean. We love the wind, water, sun and people."
He also loves classic rock music, including The Beatles.
"I’m a huge Beatles fan and love all kinds of classic music."
Hall includes many influences that have made him the man he is today, including his father, Bill, 86, and his mother, Jean, who passed away in 1998.
"My very first boss, Ernest Barrett, taught me a lot. He was as honest as the day is long. He taught me how local governments work and taught me about honesty. He got me into this business. He was a very humble man. He didn’t need to take all the credit. He sat back and let others take the credit. He thought you could accomplish amazing things as long as you weren’t concerned about who got the credit."
Whether Hall is on the water navigating the Caribbean or in his office identifying answers to local government issues, he is a man who enjoys life on multiple fronts and in multiple ways.
He even suggested, jokingly perhaps, that he could be persuaded to open an office in the Caribbean and sail to work.