Mike Kemp has been building up to this point his entire career. Recently named as the new chairman of the Business Council of Alabama (BCA) for 2022, Kemp hasn’t peaked, however — he just has a bigger platform with which to make an impact on the people, businesses and communities around him.
In January, BCA announced that Kemp was elected as the 36th chairman of the board, succeeding Gary Smith. Kemp has been a longtime leader within BCA, including previously serving as the first vice chairman and as chairman of ProgressPAC, BCA’s political affiliate.
“It has been an honor to have served as BCA’s chairman and I look forward to continuing to support BCA under Mike’s leadership,” said Smith, the president and CEO of Andalusia-based PowerSouth Energy Cooperative.
“BCA is a consistent and strong voice for the business community and an advocate for creating and sustaining economic opportunities for families across Alabama,” he added. “Mike will provide guidance that will enable BCA to continue working to foster a pro-jobs business climate in every corner of Alabama.”
At 23, Kemp started his first business as a pipe and valve distributor for American Cast Iron Pipe Co. (ACIPCO) in Birmingham, working on projects throughout the southeastern region. After almost eight years, Kemp decided to close his business to broaden his knowledge in business and construction by returning to a large construction management firm.
This turned into a 10-year stint at Hoar Program Management, where he ultimately served as vice president of operations.
“I was probably one of five African-American VPs of a construction company that’s over $500 million who ran a balance sheet, or a division,” Kemp explained. “It was a pretty big deal in construction, especially in the southeast in a company that size.”
Fast-forward a few years, and Kemp is now the first ever African-American chairman of BCA, a non-partisan, statewide business association representing the interests and concerns of more than one million working Alabamians through its member companies and its partnership with the Chamber of Commerce Association of Alabama.
“I’m really excited about being able to put a face in the chair for a community that may have not seen themselves as having this as a goal or something that they could achieve,” he stated.
Kemp underscored that his personal milestone is indicative of Alabama’s 21st century business environment and community as a whole. He also stressed that BCA’s leadership has been intentional and pro-active in making diversity and inclusion a “meaningful” priority.
A trailblazer in business throughout his career, Kemp has forged his own unique paths through innovation, relationship building, and a keen sense for what’s next. The founder, president and CEO of Birmingham’s KMS (formerly Kemp Management Solutions), a program management and consulting company, Kemp is now known throughout Alabama’s business community as a pioneering, results oriented entrepreneur with a talent for bringing businesses of all sizes and sectors together to meet their objectives. He has planned and managed more than 1,500 construction projects valued at over $6.8 billion.
BCA interim executive director Robin Stone advised, “Mike has a deep background of BCA leadership experience and knows our issues and our members extremely well. Mike brings people together and is always looking for innovative solutions and new opportunities for positive change. He will have an immediate impact on BCA, the members we serve, and the state.”
Kemp and his son, James, are also cofounders of Frameworq, a company which produces project management software that has been used by Regions Bank and other major corporations.
“Alabama is a wonderful place to live, but it’s also a really good place to build a business,” Kemp noted. He outlined that getting involved in BCA early in his business journey has not only helped him give back, but that his organizational involvement has helped his business grow and his personal network blossom.
Holding a bachelor’s degree in Civil Engineering from UAB and an associate of arts degree in Mathematics from Alabama State University, Kemp serves on several corporate and community boards, including: First Horizon Bank, Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Alabama, Downtown Rotary Club of Birmingham, and Operation HOPE.
“BCA has been the foundation of business advocacy for 36 years, and I am honored to step into this position that so many talented individuals have held before me,” said Kemp. “I am extremely optimistic about what we can accomplish if we communicate, innovate and work together.”
Now that he’s reached the pinnacle of servant leadership in Alabama’s business community, Kemp emphasized that family continues to drive him and that true connectivity with family, friends and colleagues is a key to sustainable success.
“It’s a terrible thing to climb to the top of the mountain and then look around to see you’re all alone,” he warned. “No matter how high you rise, it’s being by yourself that’ll sink you.”
Looking forward, Kemp is optimistic about the future of Alabama and the state’s business community, saying that there is a lot of pro-growth momentum right now in Alabama. Naming workforce development as a continued focus, Kemp pledged that BCA will strive to keep improving Alabama’s pro-jobs environment and reputation under his chairmanship.
“BCA is a member driven organization, and I am going to draw on the talents and experience of our leadership team and membership to meet our goals. BCA always acts in the best interest of our state, our employers and their families and that will not change,” he remarked.