DCO Salutes Veteran Business Owner


If Cohen Barnes, President/CEO of Sundog IT, Inc., runs his business like a military operation it would not be surprising.

Not only did Barnes serve in the United States Army as an Infantryman and Paratrooper, but his family’s military service stretches at least four generations. His great grandfather went across the Mexican border in pursuit of General Pancho Villa after he had raided a U.S. border town. Both of his grandfathers served in World War II and he has Vietnam veterans in his family as well. Additionally, Barnes’ son, Hank, graduated from Infantryman’s school in Fort Benning, Georgia and is in the R.O.T.C. program at Illinois State University so that he can become a commissioned officer when he graduates.

Cohen Barnes served in the Army from 1987-1990, and then was called back for Operation Desert Storm in January of 1991. He spent a few months training, but the war ended just as he was getting ready to board a plane for Iraq.

In addition to his military training, Barnes also credits his experience as an Eagle Scout for helping prepare him for success in life. He now passes on that experience by serving as an adult leader for Troop 33 in DeKalb.

Just as Cohen Barnes’ ties to the military run deep, so, too, does his connection to DeKalb, Illinois. Barnes is as born-and-bred of a DeKalbian as you can get. He attended Littlejohn Elementary School, Clinton Rosette Middle School, DeKalb High School, Kishwaukee College, and Northern Illinois University. “I’m a complete product of the DeKalb public education system,” said Barnes.

Barnes currently serves as President of the DeKalb County Economic Development Corporation (DCEDC), the DeKalb Corn Classic, and the #ProudlyDeKalb grassroots organization.

In 1989, Cohen Barnes co-founded TBC Net, which was later renamed Sundog IT. He also helped form DeKalb Fiber Optic in 2004 as a cooperative construction project with Northern Illinois University. Before Barnes left DeKalb Fiber Optic in 2012, they ultimately laid 140 miles of fiber optic cable around the area, connecting municipalities, schools, non-profits, and business enterprises.

In 2017, Sundog purchased the building at 230 E. Lincoln Hwy in Downtown DeKalb, which once housed Malone’s Department Store and had been vacant for two years since Moxie, its last resident, closed.

Barnes said that he could not be happier with their decision to locate in Downtown DeKalb. He loves coming to work everyday in their new location and conveniently going to eat at Hometown Sports Bar & Grill, getting a pint at Tapa La Luna, or seeing a show at the Egyptian Theatre. He also enjoys participating with other downtown merchants for things like trick-or-treat days.

Cohen Barnes and Sundog are heavily involved in the grassroots movement of #proudlydekalb, which is a community effort to celebrate all the positive things DeKalb has to offer, through highlighting the city’s achievements and attractions.

DeKalb County Online would like to recognize Cohen Barnes as a “Premiere Veteran Business Owner” and our Veteran Business Owner of the Year. To accompany this distinction, Cohen received a certificate of appreciation from DCO and a $50.00 Gift Certificate from Fatty’s Pub & Grille.

Presenting this award is especially meaningful to DeKalb County Online Publisher, Michael Embrey, as he, himself, is a military veteran, having served in the United States Air Force for four years.

To read more about Cohen Barnes and the history of Sundog IT, click here: Sundog IT Celebrating 30 Years in Business

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