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Interview with Mary Unger, Co-Owner of the International Barter Exchange (IBE) in Sarasota, Florida

| Sande Caplin |

I had the opportunity to interview Mary Unger, Co-Owner of IBE with her husband, Ron Unger, the International Barter Exchange.  I can tell you from personal experience that this is a fabulous company that I have been a member of for over ten years.  Check out Mary’s interview and join IBE…. It’s the best business decision that you can make.

International barter
Ron Unger

Can you provide an overview of the International Barter Exchange (IBE) and its mission?

Mission Statement

The IBE Barter Exchange is designed to help our member businesses grow their customer base, save cash and most importantly to trade with confidence in their IBE barter community. As you create new and exciting long-lasting relationships the IBE management considers your growth and prosperity to be our number one goal.

How did the idea for IBE come about, and what motivated you to start a barter company?

Since 1991 IBE has been educating local Gulf Coast Businesses on the Economics of Barter and helping businesses to build and grow their companies using the IBE® currency, or the Modern Alternative Currency. IBE® maintains that ‘Barter’ is a tool to Build and Grow your company. IBE® allows you to gain instant access to new and additional business by being engaging in the IBE Barter Community. You earn IBE® Currency by offering your products/services to fill that down time or excess capacity. You are also able to move excess inventory at your retail price on barter, rather than discount it. This new business allows you to purchase from other members of the IBE® Barter Community without the use of cash. The IBE Management Team will help you identify cash savings in your budget by using the newly acquired business with your IBE® currency!

What advantages does bartering offer to businesses, and how does it serve as an alternative currency?

Bartering can serve as an alternative currency by creating a medium of exchange within a barter network. Instead of using cash, businesses trade goods and services for barter credits or trade dollars, which can then be used to acquire other products or services within the network.

Bartering is a system of trade where goods or services are exchanged without the use of money. It has been used throughout history as a way for individuals and businesses to acquire the items they need. Here are some potential advantages of bartering for businesses:

  1. Access to Needed Goods and Services: Bartering allows businesses to obtain goods or services they require without using cash. This can be particularly beneficial for startups or businesses with limited financial resources.
  2. Cost Savings: Bartering enables businesses to trade their excess inventory, idle capacity, or underutilized resources for items they need. This helps reduce costs by optimizing the utilization of existing resources and minimizing wastage.
  3. Increased Sales and Customer Base: Participating in a barter network or exchange, such as IBE, can expand a business’s customer base. By accepting barter credits or trade dollars, businesses can attract new customers who might not have otherwise purchased their products or services. This can lead to increased sales and revenue.
  4. Cash Flow Management: Bartering provides an alternative to cash transactions, which can help businesses improve their cash flow. By using barter credits or trade dollars, businesses can acquire what they need while preserving their cash for other essential expenses.
  5. Networking and Relationship Building: Engaging in bartering can facilitate networking opportunities with other businesses and professionals within the barter network. This can lead to collaborations, partnerships, and potential referrals, fostering long-term business relationships.
  6. Flexibility and Versatility: Bartering allows businesses to be creative in their transactions and find mutually beneficial deals. It provides flexibility in negotiating terms and allows for the exchange of various goods and services across different industries.

Bartering can also serve as an alternative currency within a specific barter network or exchange. Instead of using traditional money, businesses trade their goods and services for barter credits or trade dollars, which can be used to acquire other products or services within the network. This alternative currency system provides a medium of exchange specifically designed for the participants in the barter network.

Could you explain how the barter system works within IBE? Are there any specific rules or guidelines?

Businesses save needed cash reserves by using barter dollars earned from selling products or services to other member companies. A business membership lets you purchase products direct from other businesses, as well as obtaining media advertising, travel and entertainment services, healthcare and fitness opportunities and so many other professional services.


What types of businesses typically participate in bartering through IBE, and how do they benefit from the exchange?

Globally, over 470,000 businesses are involved in Barter. It is estimated that 65% of Fortune 500 companies engage in barter to one degree or another.

How has IBE evolved over the past 30 plus years since its inception?

One word, Technology. Everything from online authorizations to QR code certificates for restaurants, salons to viewing your account online 24/7, similar to the banking system. IBE’s economy is driven by technology. We are a licensed owner of the Trade Studio software company.

What challenges did you face in establishing and growing IBE, and how did you overcome them?

As with any business there are growing pains. The biggest hurdle to overcome and is ongoing, is educating the business owner on the economics of barter and how it can help their business grow w/ new clients as well as the ability to save cash. Once the business owner understands this is an ‘alternative currency’, when creating a trade, whether accepting it for their services or when they benefit from making purchases. When the light bulb goes on and they realize they are trading with a Modern Alternative Currency it not only makes cents… it makes a difference in their bottom-line revenue.

Are there any success stories or notable examples of businesses that have greatly benefited from participating in IBE’s barter system?

There are so many! From complete solar panel installations, to health care challenges overcome with the use of private currency. Truly there are many many members of the IBE Barter Community that Profit through the Power of Exchange everyday thru the use of the IBE Modern Alternative Currency. It has changed many lives for the better, for sure.

Over 20 plus years of using the IBE alternative and modern currency has helped to build my business and grow my revenue stream. I don’t have to worry about accounts receivable with my IBE clients, I get paid immediately. IBE stays on the leading edge of technology and provides state-of-the-art accounting services.

DJ DesJardins Jr. Absolute Aluminum & Construction

What measures does IBE take to ensure fair and equitable exchanges between participating businesses?

 IBE operates with Trading By-Laws Rules and Regulations which helps to keep a level trading field.

How does IBE handle disputes or conflicts that may arise during barter transactions?

IBE encourages the IBE Barter Community of Professional businesses to handle conflicts/disputes the same way they would if they were engaged in a cash transaction. Should the need arise for IBE to be involved in any dispute over $500.00 the IBE Trading By-Laws Rules and Regulations are instituted, and final decisions made  by an advisory team.

In what ways does IBE promote and support its member businesses beyond facilitating barter transactions?

Over the years IBE has  provided a  great source of networking opportunities for member businesses. From business networking luncheons to evening Black Tie Affairs. Further engaging members to meet, greet and develop new and long-lasting relationships. 

Are there any specific industries or sectors that have shown particular interest or success in bartering through IBE?

Any sector of business, any industry,  is a great candidate to be a successful IBE Barter Community Partner. Healthcare has been a great success for members, especially in light of the current healthcare costs.

How does IBE ensure that the barter system remains viable and sustainable in the long term?

IBE is third party record keeping company as viewed by the IRS. IBE’s management team helps to keep fluid trading on a day-to-day basis.

Are there any future plans or initiatives that IBE has in the pipeline to further enhance its services?

IBE covers so many avenues for our members to be successful trading partners and there is always new technology we are always exploring, keeping our finger on the pulse of innovative ways to increase trading between our members.

How does IBE stay up to date with changing market trends and technological advancements that could impact the barter industry?

IBE has always used ‘barter’ as a tool to market and grow companies. We have the best software engineers available to keep IBE update-to-date with new market trends and technology. IBE has been a pioneer in developing the latest in technology that drives and improves our industry since 1991. 

What advice would you give to businesses considering participating in the barter system or joining IBE?

What are you waiting for? There is no time like to the present to engage with like-minded creative entrepreneurs that understand the many benefits of trading with a Modern Alternative Currency. Learn from IBE, learn from the members themselves.

Are there any misconceptions or myths about bartering that you often encounter, and how do you address them?

Sure. Some folks that are uneducated to the Modern way to Barter, might carry some ‘old timer’s’ thinking, such as ‘horse trading’ which basically means trading under the table and somehow skirting the tax ramifications… that’s a NO NO and we handle those misconceptions HEAD ON! Myths, not really. Barter is as old time and for as long as my partner and I have been engaged in the barter industry, any myths are quickly dispelled.

How does IBE contribute to the local business community in Sarasota, Florida, and beyond?

IBE has been a 32-year member of the National Association of Trade Exchanges. Proudly when our daughter, Anne Weiser was employed by IBE, Anne served as the President of NATE. NATE is a global trading platform for barter exchanges. IBE is engaged daily with local businesses on many levels identifying creative and profitable ways for them to grow their businesses. IBE contributes to many causes in the local community. It’s important to the IBE Management to always be in the mind set to ‘give more’.

What are some of the most rewarding aspects of leading IBE and seeing its positive impact on businesses?

Just that, seeing the positive impact from a financial and economic aspect. Most importantly though, the most rewarding aspect is to see over such a long span of time in this business is watching the members build long lasting friendships.

As the Co-Owner of IBE, what are your goals and aspirations for the company in the years to come?

IBE’s goal will always be to continue to educate businesses and the lay person on the business and economics of the barter industry. IBE will continue to  aspire to be the best at what we do, grow and build the local barter community, with the use of the modern alternative currency, creating strong local and global commerce.

Thank you, Mary Unger, for taking the time from your busy day to do this interview.  Visit the IBE Website for more information.

Photos from Mary Unger

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