After serving his neighbors in several capacities for decades while running his business, the president and CEO of SIHO Insurance Services is preparing to retire.

Dave Barker, 65, will retire in January after heading the Columbus-based health care benefits company for 20 years, but he plans to stay in Bartholomew County and continue his volunteer work.

John Sadtler, who has more than a quarter-century experience in the health care industry, was selected by the company’s board of directors to succeed Barker, said Doug Fauth, SIHO vice president and general counsel.

After rejoining SIHO’s senior leadership team in 2014, Sadtler, 52, served as SIHO vice president of strategy, business development and product innovation before being chosen as Barker’s successor.

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Sadtler has lived in Columbus for 18 years and has previous experience in the industry in senior executive positions at Humana and United Healthcare.

“John is a perfect successor,” Barker said.

Sadtler already has assumed the position of president and chief executive officer and is working with Barker to transition key relationships and other functions, Fauth said.

Barker’s impact in the community has been felt in many circles.

“You know that when you pick up the phone, Dave will be there for you,” said Tracy Souza, president and CEO of The Heritage Fund – The Community Foundation of Bartholomew County.

“For at least 20 years, Dave has been behind virtually every big community initiative I can think of,” Souza said.

Cindy Frey, president of the Columbus Area Chamber of Commerce, has witnessed some of that herself.

“Dave has had a tremendous impact, especially as an outspoken employer who supports educational improvement at every level,” Frey said.

The SIHO executive in 2014 served as co-chairman of “Pre-K 4 All”, a political action committee advocating for a $1.8 million tax referendum to provide prekindergarten to 450 low-income families.

“There wasn’t anyone who invested more time and energy in that effort than Dave,” Frey said.

While the referendum was defeated at the polls, much of the research done by Barker and other “Pre-K 4 All” members three years ago wasn’t wasted, the chamber president said.

Their work played an important part in last June’s selection of Bartholomew County to receive state funding to help low-income families afford pre-kindergarten, she said.

Additionally, Barker served as co-chairman of a 2006 fundraising campaign to raise $1.5 million to install football field turfs at both Columbus North and Columbus East high schools.

In 2012, he helped organize another fund drive to extend the People Trails throughout the city.

Other leadership roles include serving as chairman of the Columbus Area Economic Growth Council, a contributor and advisor to the Exhibit Columbus initiative, and as a former board chairman for the United Way of Bartholomew County.

He serves as a board member of the Riley’s Children’s Foundation’ Columbus Leadership Team, and as a member of the IUPUC Board of Advisors.

In his professional role, SIHO has more than doubled its membership during his tenure, now serving more than 150,000 members throughout Indiana.

Founded 30 years ago, SIHO has grown to 160 employees with branch offices located in Indianapolis, Seymour, South Bend and Quincy, Illinois.

Due to several proposed changes in the health care industry, SIHO has found itself in a transitional period, Sadtler said.

“Whatever Washington decides to do, we are small enough with the right talent to pivot quickly to provide the best service we can,” Sadtler said. “Anytime there’s a change in the environment, that’s a healthy place for SIHO.”

Dave Barker

Age: 65

Hometown: Detroit, Michigan

Years in Columbus: 20

Education: Bachelor of Science in Economics and Management from Michigan State University

Family: Wife Susan, two adult sons

John Sadtler

Age: 52

Hometown: Louisville, Kentucky

Years in Columbus: 18

Education: Bachelor of Arts in Biology from the University of Louisville.

Family: Wife Katina, six children

Author photo
Mark Webber is a reporter for The Republic. He can be reached at mwebber@therepublic.com or 812-379-5636.