Many around the area are familiar with the light blue taxis navigating the streets of our neighborhoods. Recently, we were fortunate enough to speak with Lee Barnes, the owner of Barwood Taxi, Friends of White Flint’s newest business member. While Barwood’s drivers will take you anywhere in the county and to select other locations such as airports and D.C., you may not know that Barwood’s headquarters are located right in White Flint on Nicholson Court.
Both Lee and his company are products of Montgomery County. Barwood began in 1960, and was started by Lee’s father Harry Barnes. The unique color of Barwood’s cabs was inspired by Lee’s mother’s 1960 Ford Thunderbird. “In those days taxis were always black,” Lee explains. “My dad thought he would do something different.” The company began in Bethesda but moved to White Flint in 1982 because of the industrial land in the area, and because of its proximity to metro, so that employees have another option to get to work. Lee grew up in Garrett Park and is a Walter Johnson graduate. “Nicholson Lane was just two lanes back then,” recalling his childhood.
While it is clear he remembers his childhood fondly, Lee is looking forward to the many changes coming to the area. He notes that “smart growth is good for my business.” With less traffic, his cabs will not spend so much time stuck on the roads – “nobody wants to pay for a meter to run in traffic.” He also looks forward to serving those who may utilize other forms of public transportation, like buses, but want a ride for the last segment of their trip. Industries such as hotels moving to the area will also provide more business for Barwood. During the sector plan process, Lee was impressed that developers, government representatives and citizens were all involved, and that these various groups were eventually able to compromise. Establishments such as Whole Foods and Seasons 52 moving to the area have been another positive addition to the area. “I only wish it would happen faster!” Lee declares.
Barwood’s involvement in the community goes back many years. The company has donated services and money to many local organizations such as Big Train Baseball and the Children’s Inn at NIH, and even transports food and clothing to local shelters. Barwood is also involved in local events such as Taste of Bethesda. Lee’s involvement in the community spans many different organizations, including the Bethesda-Chevy Chase Chamber of Commerce, Montgomery County Chamber of Commerce, Montgomery County Conference and Visitors Bureau, Montgomery County Executive’s Economic Advisory Council and the Olney Theatre Center for the Arts – to name a few. Lee explains that it’s very important to Barwood to continue to give back to the community: “That’s why we joined Friends of White Flint – to be more involved.” Children can also tour the company’s offices and garage any time – all you have to do is email the company.
Barwood Taxi is located on 4900 Nicholson Court. Check out their website for more details and booking information, including a new app that allows you to book taxis from your smartphone, at www.barwoodtaxi.com.