Leap of Faith and Love that Delivered Livelong Happiness and Success for This Ohio Family
Six-Year-Old Jackson Barnes Leads the Charge for CARSTAR Mount Orab
March 24, 2022 // Franchising.com // CHARLOTTE - When customers and vendors arrive at CARSTAR Mount Orab in Williamsburg, Ohio, they are greeted by the director of operations who offers a handshake and a welcome from his desk, where his Snap-On toolbox is by his side. Only he is six years old, son of owners Kenny and Sarah Barnes, and he has literally grown up in the collision repair center.
Kenny and Sarah Barnes were high-school sweethearts and married young. Kenny Barnes went on to work in the collision repair industry for 25 years, including managing locations in Cincinnati for a previous CARSTAR franchise partner. Sarah Barnes was in real estate. When the opportunity came available, he and his wife joined forces with their friends Chris and Jennie Clark to open their own CARSTAR location.
“Kenny had always dreamed of owning his own repair center, so we took the leap,” said Sarah Barnes. “We opened when my son was two-and-a-half years old, and we’ve been a family business ever since. We worked 24/7 in the beginning, and our son Jackson was right by our side. He literally potty trained in the front office bathroom. But it’s been an amazing experience to all be together and spend so much time raising our son in this type of family business environment. We’re very fortunate to have this opportunity, but we worked hard to get here.”
Sarah Barnes never intended to have a career in collision repair. She had one in real estate and was used to working on her own. When Jackson was born, she intended to be a stay-at-home mom. Then they opened a collision repair center, and she agreed to help out in the beginning. That soon turned into 50-hour weeks.
“When we started, we worked around the clock through weekdays and weekends,” Sarah Barnes said. “Then we got our business established, earned our customer base, achieved our certifications and built our insurance relationships. CARSTAR was incredible in helping launch our business and guide us through the process. Today, they are right by our side as we continue to grow amid today’s changing industry.”
Sarah Barnes said she and Kenny have learned from each other through the process.
“I’d never been a manager, so I learned a lot about managing the business and managing people on the job from my husband and developed my multi-tasking skills,” she said. “I think he’s learned patience from me – things don’t always happen as fast as you’d like.”
One of the keys to being successful in a family business is keeping the “family” first and foremost," Sarah Barnes noted.
“When we leave the building, we leave work behind and don’t talk about it at home,” she said. “We keep our weekends dedicated to a family activity together. We both now have the opportunity to coach soccer and baseball and spend a lot of time with Jackson. That’s great for our son, and for the whole family. We couldn’t have done this without building a family business. Kenny always says his worst day here is still better than his best day working for someone else.”
Jackson Barnes is ready to follow in his family’s footsteps, even as he is learning his A-B-C’s.
“He’s already learned to be a great help around the shop,” said Sarah Barnes. “He greets the customers, the delivery guys always check in with him, and he helps keep the team on task. When parts come in, I have him assist in checking in and organizing them, like it’s a game. He’s also learned to apply putty when most kids are playing with Play-Doh, and he can even buff a little.”
Right now, Jackson earns his allowance for working in the shop in Pokemon cards, but Sarah and Kenny Barnes would be very pleased if he took over some day.
“We want him, and all kids, to know that there is a path to success that doesn’t require an investment in a college education,” said Sarah Barnes. “There are other options out there that can provide a great life for a family. If Jackson decides to take over for us, that would be amazing, but we’ll support whatever decision he makes.”
“It has been so nice to raise our son together while building our business,” she said. “We never would have had this opportunity if we didn’t work so closely as a family. Yes, you have to separate your family life and work life sometimes and not take things personally. But, we’re very fortunate. I wouldn’t trade this lifestyle for the world.”
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