Film, TV productions provided lifeline to Cofer Brothers

In 1919, two Cofer brothers borrowed $500 to open a small country store in what was then rural downtown Tucker, GA. That investment grew into a thriving enterprise that included one of the busiest building supply companies in metro Atlanta, one that held its own against corporate giants like Home Depot, Lowe’s and the many other independent lumber yards around metro Atlanta.

Cofer’s Studio team includes (from left) Kenny Wiggins, Katie Cofer-Scott and Steve Young

The home building industry — which had become the core of Cofer Brothers — hit a screeching halt in 2009 as the country fell into a recession. Company leader Chip Cofer was determined not to become a statistic — he was committed to keeping the family business alive.

And as the saying goes, when one door closes another one opens.

“My dad had one hobby outside of our business and helping raise five children — collecting cars,” says Chip Cofer, today the CEO of the 100-year-old Cofer Brothers. “That hobby turned out to be just what we needed at the right time.”

Through that hobby came a friendship with local businessman who provided cars to movies, and like many thriving in Georgia’s film and television production industry, one introduction leads to many opportunities. For Chip, that was an introduction to the person buying the materials for a local set in Tucker.

“I saw the set, and thought, wow, this takes a lot of material. We can do this — this is what we do,” Chip says.

It was the beginning of Cofer Studio Supply, the division of Cofer Brothers that supplies materials to film and television productions around Georgia. Still based in Tucker, Cofer Brothers today employees about 50 people, including fourth-generation members of the Cofer family. The company’s sales manager, Steve Young, has worked for Cofer Brothers for nearly 50 years. The average length of employment for the team is 15 years. Katie Cofer-Scott, Chip’s daughter, and Kenny Wiggins handle the Cofer Studio Supply sales side of the business.

Six members of the Cofer family currently work at the company. From left, Jamey Wilson, John Wilson, Jim Wilson, Chip Cofer, Charlie Cofer and Katie Cofer-Scott

Film and television productions make up about a third of Cofer Brothers’ business, Chip says. The company is currently servicing about 35 production, and counts among its satisfied customers “Black Panther,” “Ozark,” and “Stranger Things.”

“The movie and TV business roared into Georgia like a freight train,” says Chip, who says he’s been a big fan of the business since he rode in a Cofer Brothers truck in scenes in “Smokey and the Bandit” as a teenager. “It’s a huge part of our story, and gave us the new life we needed to pull through a tough time in our history.

“A hundred years later, Cofer Brothers is still going strong.”

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