An act of faith and love that brought lifelong happiness and success to this Ohio family


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Six-year-old Jackson Barnes leads the charge for CARSTAR Mount Orab

March 24, 2022 // // CHARLOTTE – When customers and vendors arrive at CARSTAR Mount Orab in Williamsburg, Ohio, they are greeted by the operations manager who offers a handshake and welcome from his office, where his Snap-A toolbox is by his side. Only he is six years old, the son of owners Kenny and Sarah Barnes, and he literally grew up in the body repair center.

Kenny and Sarah Barnes were high school sweethearts and married young. Kenny Barnes then worked in the collision repair industry for 25 years, including managing locations in Cincinnati for a former CARSTAR franchise partner. Sarah Barnes was in real estate. When the opportunity arose, he and his wife teamed up 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 plunge,” said Sarah Barnes. “We opened when my son was two and a half, and we’ve been a family business ever since. In the beginning, we worked 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, and our son Jackson was by our side. He literally potty trained in the reception bathroom. But it was an amazing experience to all be together and spend so much time raising our son in this type of family business environment. We are very lucky to have this opportunity, but we have worked hard to get here.

Sarah Barnes never intended to pursue a career in auto body repair. She had one in real estate and was used to working alone. When Jackson was born, she intended to be a stay-at-home mom. Then they opened a body repair center and she agreed to help at first. This quickly turned into 50-hour weeks.

“When we started, we worked 24 hours a day, weekdays and weekends,” said Sarah Barnes. “Then we established our business, gained our clientele, obtained our certifications, and built our insurance relationships. CARSTAR has been amazing in helping us launch our business and guiding us through the process. Today, they are with us as we continue to grow in an ever-changing industry.”

Sarah Barnes said she and Kenny learned from each other throughout the process.

“I had never been a manager, so I learned a lot about running the business and managing people at work from my husband and developed my multitasking skills,” she said. “I think he learned patience from me – things don’t always happen as quickly as you would like them to.”

One of the keys to success in a family business is to keep ‘family’ first,” noted Sarah Barnes.

“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 football and baseball and spend a lot of time with Jackson. It’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 always better than his best day working for someone else.

Jackson Barnes is ready to follow in his family’s footsteps, even as he learns his AB-C.

“He’s already learned to be a big help in the store,” Sarah Barnes said. “He greets customers, delivery people always check in with him and he helps the team stay focused. When parts come in, I ask him to help me save them and organize them, like it’s a game. He’s also learned how to apply putty when most kids play with Play-Doh, and he can even polish a little.

Right now, Jackson is earning his allowance to work in the Pokemon Card Shop, but Sarah and Kenny Barnes would be very happy if he ever took over.

“We want him, and all the kids, to know that there is a path to success that doesn’t require investing in a college education,” said Sarah Barnes. “There are other options that can provide a good life for a family. If Jackson decides to replace us, it would be incredible, but we will support any decision he makes.

“It was so nice raising our son together while building our business,” she said. “We never would have had this opportunity if we hadn’t worked so closely as a family. Yes, sometimes you have to separate family life and professional life and not take things personally. But, we are very lucky. I wouldn’t trade this lifestyle for anything in the world.




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