Family-run lumber business doubles in growth stimulated by the film industry

Carl E Smith 2During 10 seasons of “The Walking Dead” viewers from across the world have become familiar with the sets and Georgia landscapes featured in the riveting series. From the village of Alexandria to the giant windmill, the sets are massive, detailed and built to last.

That’s where Carl E. Smith & Sons Building Materials, based in Turin near Senoia, found an opportunity. The company caters to the special-order market and since 2011, it has provided hard-to-find custom building materials for “The Walking Dead” and many other productions.

“Since 2012, we’ve doubled in growth, due to film industry accounts,” says Alex McDonald, vice president of Carl E. Smith & Sons Building Materials. “We had about 23 employees and now we have 44 full-time employees, all from Coweta and Fayette counties.”

About 25 percent of the company’s business comes from the film industry. And it’s not just productions. The people who work on them need homes. They need clinics, grocery stores and gas stations. Alex says building the infrastructure is a large part of their business.

Carl E Smith 1The revenue from the film industry has been a great way to diversify Carl E. Smith & Sons’ business and even out what can be a seasonal industry.

“During the economic downturn of the housing bust, other people were shutting their doors, but South Atlanta was experiencing a boom from the film industry that helped us greatly,” says Alex. “It has been a consistent revenue stream to provide materials to housing developments that cater to the film industry’s workforce, like Serenbe and Pinewood Forest.”

Alex says his team has developed a tight-knit relationship with set designers and purchasers. For “The Walking Dead,” Carl E. Smith & Sons provided the bulk of the material for the walled city of Alexandria and worked hand-in-hand with the team that built the 65-feet tall windmill that towers over Senoia.

“The film industry has been great for people in commercial and residential construction. Film people are wonderful to work with and the productions employ a ton of locals,” says Alex. “Look at all of these homes and infrastructure that have been built for the them, all of those projects would not have existed without the influx of the Georgia film industry.”

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