We're excited to connect with our alumni through our Darlington Connects series. Today, we hear from Kent Barber ‘(03, LD ’15), founder of private equity and consulting company, Day Break Investors.
In the past two years, Kent Barber (‘03, LD ’15) has randomly run in to three Darlington connections in Greenville and out of the country. One was his old friend and classmate, Frank Stegall (’02), who he reconnected with on a Disney cruise with their families. The second one was Darah Huffman (‘95), whose daughter is in his daughter’s preschool class. The third was Chad Warner (‘94), his former Darlington coach and mentor, who was just sitting on the stairs in an office building after he had just accepted the assistant head coaching job at Furman.
Kent has appreciated his Darlington Connections since he started as a freshman boarding student from Greenville, S.C., in fall of 1999.
When asked about memories of his favorite teachers and coaches, Barber had many to list: Gordon Hight ('94, LD '16), Chad Warner, David Powell, Tim Foote, Michael Carswell, Gordon Neville, Gus Bell, Brian Boone, and Tara and Brian Inman all had an impact on his life. While at Darlington, he played lacrosse and football and also served on the Y-Cabinet, of which he was president his senior year.
After graduation, Kent attended Auburn University. He fell in love with it after “Griffin Duncan ('03, LD '17) invited me to a football game and I paid the deposit and signed up for school with my grandmother's credit card.” He was prepped and ready for college and had already applied and gotten into 20 different schools by the time his mom called to say it was time to start applying. “I studied business marketing and had a great four years.”
After graduation, Kent thought he was going to go to law school but found out he could defer his acceptance for a year. “One of my oldest friends dreamt up a move to St. Thomas in the U.S. Virgin Islands," he said. "I bought a one-way plane ticket, took $600 in cash and moved down there in May 2007. I walked around with a resume and found a job at Molly Malones Irish Pub.” He worked there for a year, eventually meeting his future wife, Lauren.
After a year of fun in St. Thomas, Kent moved back to Greenville. His uncle, with whom he was very close, challenged him with what was next in his life, so he decided to work for their family business, Kentwool, and fell in love with the textile business. His uncle threw him into learning every aspect of the business. “I worked each shift and learned all aspects of the business," said Kent.
Things changed for him when his uncle had the idea for a golf sock line. “I jumped onto that project and had a great seven years of building a brand and working on everything from product development to merchandising to sports marketing," he said. "I really fell in love with the apparel world.” Kent later had the opportunity to join a corporate apparel company, Delta Apparel.
It was a good time for him to make a change when a friend from Southern Tide had an opportunity on his team to lead the special markets division. "In four years, we grew the division from a little over $1 million to $10 million," said Kent.
During this time, he was also building his family with Lauren and their three children. He began meeting with a coach from Amplos to come up with a game plan for his life. The three key things that lead Kent's life are to “build relationships, create memorable experiences, and serve others well." This helped him look to what was next for him, and that’s when he left Southern Tide and created his own private equity and consulting company, Day Break Investors. He’s learned so much during his career and it’s all led him to where he is now. “When I’m looking at a new business, I have to believe in the people before the product," he said.
When asked about advice for others, Kent shared, “Get comfortable being uncomfortable. Be intentional about things. And in regards to other people, be a fan of theirs and don’t try to make them a fan of yours.” He credits beginning to learn a lot of this when he started at Darlington when he came to boarding and didn’t know anyone.
Kent also makes a point to get away from work and loves nothing more than spending time with his family. He also loves to play golf, take his dog on long walks, lead his men’s Bible study, and listen to books and podcasts. He has stayed connected to Darlington by supporting The Darlington Fund, participating in Leadership Darlington, and serving on the Alumni Council. He would also love to connect with anyone in the Darlington Community who wants to learn more about his career path and business.
Are you a member of the Darlington Community (or do you know one) with an interesting career or community involvement? We'd love to spotlight you in a future blog! Please email firstname.lastname@example.org if you are interested in being featured.