Angie Barr has been with Strongwell Corp. in Bristol, Va., since 1999.
Barr earned her bachelor's degree in business administration from Lincoln Memorial University in Tennessee with a concentration in accounting. She started in accounts payable at the pultruder of fiber-reinforced composites and has held various roles for the last 23 years.
"Strongwell is my first employer/job in the plastics industry. Prior to Strongwell, I held a job in human resources at another (nonplastic-related) local manufacturer," she said. "Frankly, I didn't realize how much the plastics industry interested me until I joined Strongwell. Twenty-three years later, I am still amazed at the wide range of applications plastics can be used in and for."
Barr manages a team that performs all financial activities for three U.S. manufacturing facilities and one manufacturing facility in Mexico. In addition to her position as CFO, she is the corporate secretary and treasurer for all facilities and legal representative for Mexico operations.
A proud accomplishment of hers has been "successfully establishing an international manufacturing facility in Mexico," she said.
"I grew up in a small town in southwest Virginia, and I'm the only member of my family to graduate from college. That is an achievement in itself; however, being the CFO of a highly successful 500-employee organization and at the same time raising our son, an aspiring 16-year-old baseball player, is my greatest achievement to date," Barr said.
Barr was encouraged by teachers and counselors throughout her education to pursue her passion for accounting, and she wants to do the same for others.
"I am a big proponent of internship programs. I realize that our rising talent is the future of our company and our industry," she said. "Over the years, our accounting department has hosted students from high schools and community colleges to give them exposure into the corporate sector. It's also a great opportunity to foster community relationships."
Q: What has been the biggest impact or challenge on your career from the coronavirus pandemic?
Barr: There were so many nonessential workers whose careers were severely impacted by the pandemic, such as the retail industry, tourism, restaurants, beauticians/barbers, etc. These same industries and service sectors are still reeling from the effects of the pandemic.
Strongwell, however, was classified as "essential," and we remained operational throughout the pandemic, and it came with new and immediate challenges for me as CFO and a member of our senior staff team. We were forced to quickly find ways to increase employee safety and well-being, to create a stable workplace and workforce, to temporarily switch from a work-based operation to a remote work operation for some employees, and to recognize and understand that customers and suppliers were scrambling to address the same issues that we were.
Q: What's an accomplishment of yours that most people don't know about, either for work or in your personal life?
Barr: My son is passionate about playing travel sports, specifically baseball and basketball, with his equally talented and like-minded friends. However, at the outset of investigating local organizations to support his passion, I quickly learned there weren't many options for those activities in our local area. I set out to resolve this issue, and in collaboration with a local high school coach and other player parents, I created a 501(c)(3) travel sports organization.
That was definitely a learning experience for me and an accomplishment most people don't know about me in my personal life. Our efforts were rewarded when my son and his travel baseball team won the 11-year-old age division's travel baseball World Series.
Q: What is the best advice you have ever received?
Barr: The best advice I have ever received was from my parents, who were quick to let me know that the world we live in wasn't always pleasant and, unfortunately, the people weren't always nice. Because of that, I realized that I had to recognize who would be an encourager to me and surround myself with those types of people. That advice served me well in learning how to deal with strong personalities throughout my career and how I can be better for having these relationships and overcoming obstacles along the way.