The Smith Family
Our story began way back in the 1920s, when Jack Smith was bouncing around southern Missouri working as a logger and tie hacker. Jack developed a strong work ethic and a deep connection to the Ozark forests, which he passed along to his son Viandel “Spider” Smith. Spider opened his own flooring mill in 1946, partnering with Ralph Padgett the next year to fully begin operations.
The two men used their mill to take advantage of the home-building boom that followed World War Two, until Spider bought out Mr. Padgett in 1960. As sole owner, Spider then began expanding the business at its current site along Highway 60 in Mountain View. His sons, Jon and Van Smith, got involved in the business in the 1970s, and eventually became the second generation of family owners of Smith Flooring.
The brothers led Smith Flooring through the economic hardships of the late 1970s, when soaring interest rates as high as 18% crippled home-building and the economy in general. But as economic conditions recovered, the company thrived under the brothers’ leadership. Over the years, the brothers expanded the company, adding a flooring distributorship in Springfield, a small sawmill, a beef cattle operation, and a forestry management program on a few parcels of family-owned timberland.
Van’s passing left a deep void in both the family and the company, but the time was right to add the third generation of Smiths to the ownership group. Van’s sons, Kent and Steve, joined the management team, working alongside Jon running the manufacturing plant along with the company’s other divisions. Kent took on a bigger role at the flooring mill while Steve became solely responsible for Classic Wood Floors (see side bar to link to website), the family flooring distributorship in Springfield.
In their time since joining Smith Flooring, the third generation of Smiths have also been fundamental in orienting the company’s approach to sustainable forestry in the Ozarks, helping to build a cleaner, more environmentally-friendly company. In addition to regenerative forestry efforts, the company also operates a wood pellet mill to help eliminate much of the waste produced by the flooring plant. The mill opened in 2015, and uses 100% hardwood sawdust, sourced straight from the Smith plant floors, to manufacture premium wood pellets for heat and electricity. In addition to the commercial sale of these hardwood pellets, Smith Flooring uses them domestically in a system of boilers, installed by Viandel Smith, to produce local electricity for the company.
Smith Flooring is the epitome of a family-owned enterprise, but the company’s notion of what all is included in the term “family” goes well beyond just the blood relatives. Since the outset, Smith Flooring has considered all its employees, and even the community at large, part of their extended family. This helps explain how the company manages to retain employees and thereby maintain consistency in quality and customer service for extended periods. Take Stuart Smith, for instance. Stuart has been with the company for more than 20 years and is currently the Purchasing and Sales Manager. He is just the sixth individual to hold the Sales Manager position since the company was started back in 1946. Indeed, when Smith Flooring talks about being a family operation, we really mean it.
The Smiths aren’t the only family dynasty at Smith Flooring, either. Steve McAffee was a first shift end-matcher operator with Smith Flooring for 20 years. Before him, his father held the position for 36 years. Both men showed incredible dedication to Smith Flooring, and we are proud to have had the McAffee family tree grow alongside the Smith’s.
So if you’re ever wondering what happened to that kind of customer service and quality commitment that derives from good old-fashioned family pride, give us a call. We’d be happy to refresh your memory.