Black Hound…a name one would at first think was associated to a dog training business or a hunting operation; however, the reality is that it belongs to a custom furniture design and manufacturing business…Black Hound Custom Furniture and Design. In 2013, the owners, James and Kate Hixson, had an idea…a vision that would expand and enhance James’s college education in sculpturing. What started as a wood sculpture for a friend, evolved into a prosperous and growing business in the design and manufacture of unique custom furniture made from wood, primarily, logs. At the onset, James and Kate had a pet dog named Murphy. Kate jokingly describes him as truly a “black hound dog”….and thus was born the name of the business…Black Hound.
Over the next few years the business sustained steady growth. The ability to design and create unique custom product offerings, opened doors and has developed a loyal customer following. James and Kate both agreed that a focus on quality control and internal customer service is emphasized at all times to insure customer satisfaction. With the unique custom design of the products, assembly and installation at the customer location is often required. Black Hound employs a trained staff that is focused on delivering and installing the highest level of products and customer satisfaction. Black Hound’s prime customers are found in the restaurant, bar and hotel industries although they have designed and manufactured products for residential home owners as well.
James said that their first real client was a BBQ business in New York City that ordered several custom tables. After seeing that their unique design capability was marketable, they went to work on creating different product designs for tables and chairs. Soon, one sale led to another as word spread and referrals began to contact them with ideas and requests for furniture. This soon created a need for skilled employees to handle the design and manufacturing need of the business. James commented that many of their designs are quite unique and often require a different manufacturing process that may require specialized tools.
As with any successful business, Black Hound began to experience growing pains. Having never developed a formal planning process, they contacted the SBDC for assistance. With the guidance and facilitation of an SBDC consultant, experienced in Strategic Planning, they held their first formalized planning meeting. Kate commented that the consultant assisted them in developing a sound Strategic Plan that challenged them and created specific goals and Action Plans focused on the desired growth direction of the business. She further went on to add that they have continuously focused on this plan and in fact have expanded several of the “To Do” areas and that the continued follow up by the SBDC consultant, has kept them focused on their planned growth path. With new product ideas in the development stages, the future looks very bright for Black Hound and they plan to continue to use the programs and resources provided by the SBDC.