Current / Past Place of Employment: Journey Steel, Inc.
Where are you originally from? I was born and raised in Cincinnati, Ohio, so 56 years!
Barb Smith is the President of Journey Steel, Inc. She received her B.S. in Industrial Technology with a Construction Specialty from Eastern Michigan University. She gained 25 years of construction experience working with General Contractors and Architectural and Engineering Firms before co-founding Journey Steel in 2009 with her business partner Tom Garten.
Barb graduated from the Urban League African American Business Development Program (Kaufman Track), Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Business Program and SBA Emerging Leaders Class (Interise Track). Ms. Smith is the recipient of the 2016 Journey Award for Economic Empowerment and Entrepreneurship. She is in the 2017 Class of Women Who Mean Business and in 2021 she was inducted into the African American Chamber of Greater Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky Hall of Fame. Her company has received numerous awards for community impact including being named two years in a row as one of the top 100 fastest growing inner-city businesses by ICIC listed in Fortune Magazine. Barb was invited to the White House and participated in a Roundtable discussion with then President Trump, Vice-President Pence and members of the President’s Cabinet to discuss regulations and their effect on small, minority and women-owned businesses.
What are your personal core values? My personal core values are faith, integrity, dependability, perseverance, loyalty, optimism, enthusiasm, compassion, commitment, respect and passion.
In what ways are you involved in the Cincinnati community outside of your professional endeavors? I am an active member in my church which is very involved with bringing about unity within the body of Christ in our region as well as across the United States. I was a knothole district supervisor for over 15 years and remain involved with youth baseball and softball by serving on the Reds Community Fund Board, whose primary mission is to revitalize baseball in the inner-city and build major league citizens. I have also helped to start a non-profit that targets inner-city high school seniors who are not considering attending college for one reason or another and offering them the opportunity to “dream again” to understand that with hard work and support they can be anything they want to be. Our non-profit trains them in the field of ironworking and sets them on that career path as an option- but at the end of the day the choice is theirs.
Looking at your professional career, outside of family and friends, where have you garnered your support? In addition to family and friends and much, much prayer, I received unbelievable support from the many agencies in the region that advocate for small, women-owned or minority-owned business – and since Journey fits in all three of those categories I’ve been able to have a very powerful group of individuals who have been in my corner for years – helping to prepare me and my business for success. Individuals from the AAC, MBA, WBE-ORV, OMSDC, SBA, ODOT, KDOT, PTAC, City of Cincinnati, Supplier Diversity Advocates in varying corporations – the list is almost endless of the support I’ve received.
What legacy do you hope to leave behind? I hope my legacy will be that of faith, service and change. I would love to know that when I am gone, others will be able to say I committed my life to the Lord, I committed my life to giving back to my community with my time, talents, resources and passions. That I made positive change happen within the region by paving the way and supporting others to succeed in their careers and life journeys.
How do you define success? Success is to me is majored by knowing you put it all on the table and you didn’t hold back. You gave it your ALL. You have a goal in mind and you did everything to make it happen – if you reach that goal, that is the ultimate success, but even if you don’t reach that goal, but you have no “if I would have, could have, should have’s” at the end of the day – you’ve still succeeded – you gave it your all and had no regrets.
What are you doing to ensure you continue to grow and develop as a leader? I stay connected to the agencies in our region that provide support to SBE/MBE/WBE businesses and take advantage of every program I can that challenges me as a leader to work on my business and not in my business. I attend webinars, seminars, networking events and anything else where I can ensure I am not the smartest person in the room – I remain a sponge and take in knowledge and advice wherever I can get it.
What piece of advice have you received along the way in your career or life journey that has stuck with you? Be the change I want to see in others. I’m not even sure where I first heard this but I believe in it and it drives me. For me this advice is an everyday action statement. Each day I get up with the job to walk out what I want to see around me.
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