Smallwoods Goes Big with Durst Technology
Smallwoods started from humble beginnings in a Longview, TX, garage, when founder and CEO Josh Smallwood launched his framing company using reclaimed barnwood to finish hand-stenciled pictures of Hollywood cowboy icon John Wayne. Since the company’s founding in 2012, Smallwoods has grown into a 300-person business that is a major player in the personalized home products market.
While the direction of Smallwoods has always been forward, its path has not always been straight. Having lost everything in a devastating fire in 2017, the company found itself forced to make a new start — built around all that was left after the fire: the people and a family-like culture built on perseverance.
Smallwoods’ rebirth included taking strong advantage of the possibilities of digital printing. Much of the company’s recent, printing-focused growth has been maximized through Durst (Booth N1043) inkjet technology. Smallwoods, in fact, is now the largest user of Durst P5 350 inkjet presses in North America, with Durst technology increasing the company’s capacity by six times.
According to Justin Rector, Smallwoods’ production manager, the company’s move to Durst in 2020 opened a key door to growth. Capacity expanded significantly, and the company was able to print more output with fewer machines.
When Don Coggswell, Midwest/Southwest sales manager for Durst US, first met the Smallwoods team at a trade show in 2019, it was the start of conversations focused on reliability, uptime, and Durst’s performance in the e-commerce space. “We discussed their business plan and model, and could see that Durst was a good fit,” Coggswell says, “Smallwoods started with our software side, then ventured into the print platforms themselves.” Smallwoods purchased two P5 350 machines in 2020. Less than a year later, the company purchased two additional Durst HS systems.
When the Smallwoods team was considering its first Durst P5 350 purchase, they were aware they had outgrown the technologies they were then using. Rector says, “We were at a point where print volume was exceeding capacity.” Further, minimizing downtime was a crucial part of the decision, and Smallwoods has seen phenomenal uptime results with its Durst systems. COO Trevor Stagner says the technology, “opened new opportunities to grow.”
Efficiency is at the core of Smallwoods’ priorities, says Stagner, noting that technology has enabled them to offer products at an affordable price. For Smallwoods, the efficiency and capacity of its Durst systems have helped the business flourish. Between mid-2020 and the end of 2021, Stagner says, the company did 6.8 million sqft of printing, roughly 220,000 sheets, in 8,000 hours of print time. Rector adds that each sheet could be comprised of as many as 32 individual photos. “For 2021,” he says, “we did 2.2 million custom prints.”
Among Smallwoods’ priorities when sourcing equipment, Rector says, “the initial focus is capacity.” Following that is a strong focus on ease of use, which “makes it easy to train operators up.” Exemplary print quality — most Smallwoods jobs are printed at 700×1,200 dpi — helps the company meet its customers’ expectations.
One of the key value points Durst’s P5 350 and HS systems provide is strong flexibility. As a producer of products ranging in size from a postcard to a 5x10’ sheet on a variety of substrates, the 137" print width and the versatility and adhesion of Durst’s UV inks makes for strong, durable images. The inclusion of LED-UV curing expands the possibility for Smallwoods to print onto heat-sensitive materials, such as thin plastics, without risk of substrate failure. Further, says Coggswell, “with hybrid functions, the P5 systems are ready to go with rolled media, so you have the ability to stage rolls of different types.”
The growth trajectory for Smallwoods is strong, and the company is currently undertaking the construction of a new 250,000-sqft campus to give it the production space it needs to grow. The addition of two more, similar sized, buildings is also a part of the company’s view forward. As to where the company will continue to expand its product mix in the near term, Stagner doesn’t show Smallwoods’ cards: “We’re always looking for new areas to diversify into,” he says.