- Written by: Tom Faunce
- Produced by: James Logan
- Estimated reading time: 4 mins
In the past 30 years, Woodtex has grown from a mom-and-pop shop based in upstate New York to a preferred nationwide builder of storage sheds, garages, horse barns and cabins. Now headquartered in Mount Juliet, Tennessee, Woodtex remains a family-owned and -operated business and manages locations in New York, Texas and South Carolina.
Against all odds
Woodtex was founded in 1983 by Sanford and Barb Lapp after the couple relocated from Pennsylvania to Himrod, New York. With a 1-year-old and another on the way, Sanford maintained a vision to build a company that would provide for his family and contribute to his community. With limited construction knowledge and a do-it-yourself attitude, Woodtex was founded as a small company providing storage sheds to customers in the surrounding counties.
In the beginning, Sanford took on a second job to make ends meet as the company experienced its growing pains. Six years after starting the company, the Lapp family grew to four children while Woodtex added five full-time employees who worked on construction as well as deliveries.
Soon after starting the company, Sanford was diagnosed with cancer and died six years later. After receiving the diagnosis, Sanford worked tirelessly to ensure that the company would provide for his family after he was gone.
“He would work a few hours and then have to go sit in the car because he was in so much pain,” recalls Kent Lapp, son of Sanford and owner and CEO of Woodtex. “I clearly recall at 7 years old him asking me what I would think if he sold Woodtex. I told him I was absolutely against it. Even at such a young age I recognized how much I was a part of the company and how much it was as part of our family.”
When Sanford died, Barb was left to raise the four children and keep the business going. A few years before his death, Sanford trained Barb in the sales and marketing aspects of the business, while the rest she was forced to learn on her feet. “Dad passed away on a Friday, his funeral was on Monday and mom went to work on that Tuesday,” recalls Kent. Through faith and hard work, the family and the business survived and is now a thriving company with sons Kent and Ben running the day-to-day operations.
Maintaining a vision
The location of Mount Juliet, Tennessee, in relation to the rest of the country was the motivation for relocating the headquarters from upstate New York. Woodtex moved its headquarters to be in closer proximity to its customer base.
With two-thirds of the United States’ population within a one-day drive, Kent finds that tax incentives coupled with the centralization of the company make Tennessee a better state to conduct business in. “We have a rich history and we’re very proud of that,” says Kent. “We don’t want to rest on it though. My brother and I want to make sure we work hard and with integrity to honor our father’s legacy while at the same time establishing our own.”
Having learned about perseverance from their parents, Kent and Ben have been able to lead Woodtex through tough economic times such as the recent recession. While other companies were closing their doors, Woodtex managed to grow. Within the last three years, the company has increased its revenue by more than 10 percent.
Kent attributes this success to the culture of the company. “One of the most important aspects to us is the experience we provide for every customer,” he says. “We believe it’s also very important for us to treat each other well and create a great atmosphere, which allows us to hire talented people.”
With the proven ability to manage substantial growth, Woodtex continues on its current path. The knowledge and business expertise that the second generation of ownership has gained through their lifelong experiences will drive the company into new markets and future partnerships.
While the company maintains its current business model, Woodtex pursues additional retail partners to carry its product and expand its distribution footprint. Kent also says although the company does not have any specific plans for adding new locations, Woodtex investigates other markets as the company expands throughout the country. “Moving forward, increasing distribution and adding new branches will be our primary focus in regard to growth,” he adds. “We’ll also be launching some products in the next year.”
Honoring the legacy built by their parents, Ben and Kent Lapp have managed to carry on the Woodtex brand through adversity and today, the company is thriving nationally. From the example of perseverance set by their mother Barb, and based on the vision of their father Sanford, the Lapp brothers have already created their own legacy of Woodtex with many more successful years to follow.
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