Longview, TX: Four hundred sixty-two days ago Smallwood Home lost everything.
In September 2017, the company, whose headquarters are in Longview, literally lost everything in a warehouse fire that destroyed their entire 23,000-square-foot facility.
The fire started just before midnight on Tuesday, September 19, 2017, and burned into the early hours of Wednesday, September 20.
Owner and chief executive officer (CEO) of Smallwood Home (DBA: Smallwoods) Josh Smallwood, his wife Holly and a small group of team members huddled together and watched in disbelief – that’s all they could do.
The small team of work family, mixed with actual family, remained on site until the first shift arrived to begin work at 5:00 a.m. Little did they know there would be no shift.
Can you imagine working tirelessly to grow your operation that, at the time, employed 60 people, only to show up and see it burn to the ground? Everything you’ve worked for is now gone.
How would you respond? How would your employees respond? What would you do?
Smallwood recalls what he felt that morning.
“I remember my first thought being what are we going to do for our employees,” says Smallwood. “This job provides for their families and now they don’t have a place to come to work. And I remember circling our employees together and asking them to give us five days. Give me five days and report to work on Monday.”
A small group of dedicated employees worked to get an operation up and going before the rest of their team showed up on Monday, September 25.
With help from longtime vendors and suppliers, as well as backup equipment Smallwoods had stored off-site, the operation was back up and running by Monday.
“I remember looking around at the people surrounding our company and being so proud of the effort involved,” says Smallwood. “It took a community rallying around us to rebuild in a short amount of time.”
Smallwoods’ ability to restart and keep all of their jobs is something they’re most proud of. Their operation was a fraction of what it was prior to the fire, but employees worked around the clock to make the best of a bad situation. Because of this effort, Smallwoods was able to continue manufacturing and shipping products on time to their customers.
Four hundred sixty-two days later, Smallwoods has expanded across six facilities that make up more than 80,000-square-feet in the East Texas area with plans of relocating under one roof that consist of almost 200,000-square-feet.
Their employee count has more than tripled in the last year with more than 200 employees.
Smallwoods’ growth has outpaced most on a national level and they are currently working to fill over 300 full-time jobs. These jobs include assembly workers, wood shop equipment operators, forklift operators, warehouse and shipping personnel, graphic designers, print operators, CNC router operators, administrative personnel, executive directors, production managers, department managers and team leads. This would take their total employee count to more than 500.
However, this growth has not come without its challenges.
“Anytime a company scales as quickly as we have, there’s going to be growing pains,” says Justin Rector, chief operating officer (COO). “It’s an exciting challenge for many reasons. For me, being born and raised in Longview and to see the jobs created here and the growth of our company – it’s something we’re very proud of. Knowing that we’re barely 14 months removed from losing everything as a company, we are excited about our future and forecasted growth.”
It's exciting to imagine what Smallwoods could look like 462 days from now.
ABOUT SMALLWOOD HOME
Smallwood Home (DBA: Smallwoods) designs and manufactures home décor and textile products that are shipped to all 50 states and Canada. In the last year alone, they have shipped more than 1,000,000 items – all from their Longview distribution center.
Their entire business is 100 percent direct-to-consumer through their e-commerce enabled website (www.smallwoodhome.com) and various social media platforms. They have worked hard to establish a relationship with their target market that has allowed their social media following to grow more than 1.7 million followers across Facebook and Instagram. Their e-commerce store offers a broad selection of merchandise centered around the milestones one celebrates throughout their life.