From humble beginnings in New York to an untimely death, to a courageous young son: here's the story of Woodtex.
A Humble Journey
The story of our family business begins humble. In 1982, my mom and dad moved from Lancaster Pennsylvania to Dundee New York, a small town enveloped by the Finger Lakes. Mom grew up Amish. Dad was a Mennonite. He ran a small farm with his father, a master carpenter who built till the day he died at the ripe old age of 93. Young and pining to build a future for his family, dad began setting his sights on new frontiers.
Packing up his young wife and children along with a work ethic and an adventurous spirit that lives deep in the soul of all men, dad headed for the developing terrain of upstate New York and started building sheds. His vision was simple: sell directly to customers. Honestly. Personally. The way business should be done.
The winters were rough and the work started slow, but as the land kept growing, so did dad’s shed business. With every season of growth, he made sure to sow back into the community. Stories of him patching broken down buildings around town, or going the extra mile to care for a worker’s family, have now become legend.
Hammers at the Crack of Dawn
We lived in the shop during those early years. Dad built an apartment at one end of the metal building that housed the shed shop. That’s what we called home. With four young kids, mom had her hands full. She had to make a rule that Dad wasn’t allowed to start building sheds before 5 am, because the sounds of the hammers and nail guns would wake us kids.
He worked incredibly hard, but he also took time to build relationships. Because he started so early every day, he also tried to make sure to wrap up in time to spend a few hours with the family each night, or serve the church and community in whatever way he could.
Twists & Turns in a Ford Ranger
People loved my dad. The whole community was shocked when, at the energetic age of 29, he came down with cancer. I remember driving to work with him during those years in his beloved tan Ford Ranger. He asked me on one of those rides what I would think if he ever sold Woodtex. I was 9 years old, but even then, I couldn’t fathom it. The business was life. It gave people shelter. It gave people space. It gave people opportunity.
Dad fought his disease for 7 long years. He passed away at 36. Just a few days after his funeral, Mom summoned up all the courage she had and assumed responsibility for the business. The woman surprised us all. She was phenomenal. For the next 10 years she ran a thriving business, raised four kids, and somehow made it all look easy.
A Courageous Son
As a son, I couldn’t be more proud of my parents. After graduating high school in 2002, I went straight to work at Woodtex, eventually taking over the company in 2004. The Woodtex team members and customers really cared for me and my siblings – in some ways it almost felt like they adopted us as their own. The whole community was behind us, wanting us to succeed. The support was palpable, and I’m grateful for it to this day.
Perhaps it’s my father’s adventurous spirit in me, but in 2009 we decided to take a big risk and add a factory in the south. We opened a factory and a sales center in South Carolina. We had friends in South Carolina – family friends who had really supported our family through Dad’s passing. They were instrumental in helping us launch our first Southern location.
I suppose I really am my father’s son. In 2013, my wife and I decided to move our family to Tennessee in 2013, settling close to Nashville. Around the same time, our team launched a factory and sales center close to Waco, TX. Another expansion the following year brought a Woodtex factory and sales center to Mt. Juliet, TN. In 2016, corporate HQ moved to Brentwood, TN giving us a great location from which to launch our nationwide growth.
Making Room for Life
From the beginning, one of our highest priorities has always been relationships. The relationships we have with our customers and the relationships we build on our team – now more than 130 employees and more than 50 retail partners.
One of the ways we focus on relationships is in helping people make room for the important things in life. It’s inspiring when our customers tell us about how they were able to use their Woodtex shed to re-order their life in a positive way.
They clean out a spare bedroom so they can host family and friends, or they get their wife’s car back into the garage because of the space they’ve freed up. Or one of my favorites: starting a small business in a Woodtex – leatherworking, small engine repair, or storing inventory for a web-based business.
It’s really powerful to see the story come full circle this way: my dad’s small business growing to where we are and providing opportunity for so many. We’ve got big dreams for this company, and we’ve built a really great team. We truly look forward to helping you build the space you need for the important things in life.
CEO of Woodtex