Incoming ACMA Chairman of the Board Kevin Barnett comes in with an open mind and decades of experience.

The life of a certified public accountant can be exhausting. It’s an arduous job with long work days and painstaking number crunching. But according to Kevin Barnett, ACMA’s incoming Chairman of the Board of Directors, that early-career desk work is nothing compared to his upbringing. As a boy growing up in rural southern Ohio, Barnett spent most of his days helping maintain the family farm.

The self-described “country boy” figured he would never leave his small town, but after graduating from Ohio University and marrying his high school sweetheart, he moved to Columbus, Ohio, and began his career with Deloitte & Touche LLP. By then, his tolerance for long hours was ahead of the curve.

“I remember thinking, ‘Wow, this is pretty good.’ I used to work longer hours and got paid with three meals and a roof over my head,” Barnett recalls. While farming taught him the value of hard work, he admits it was often physically draining and unpleasant. Back then, the outdoors just represented hard labor, but after living in Columbus for more than 30 years, he now sees being outside as an opportunity to appreciate nature.

It is perhaps that attuned awareness of his environment that has made him the detail-oriented worker and open-minded leader that he is today.

Leadership Qualities

Barnett got his start in composites in 1997 when he left his position as vice president, treasurer and corporate controller at Medex Inc. – a manufacturer and marketer of injection molded products for the medical market – for Core Molding Technologies. Core is a manufacturer of sheet molding compound (SMC) and a molder of fiberglass-reinforced plastics (FRP).  At the time, Barnett didn’t know much about composites but was intrigued by the industry and specifically the opportunity to join the newly formed Core Molding Technologies.

“The more I researched composites, the more I was intrigued by the opportunity to enter a growing industry,” says Barnett. “I also felt that Core was well positioned to capitalize on that growth.” According to Forbes, he was right, as Core was ranked No. 126 on Forbes’ best small companies list in 2006. In 2014, seven years after Barnett took over as CEO, Core shot up the list to No. 37. In the 20 years Barnett has worked at Core, the company has grown from one location, one process and a couple of customers to five manufacturing locations, a wide range of thermoset and thermoplastic composite manufacturing processes and multiple blue-chip OEM customers in the heavy truck, automotive, marine, construction and telecommunication industries.