By April Smith Patterson
Dad passed away in September of 2011 leaving a huge void and emptiness in us – his family – and in the companies as well. It’s a hole that will never be filled, but we know his dream and concern was that the companies continue providing jobs for the amazing folks in our small rural area.
While our family faced challenges in taking their new roles and becoming second generation leadership in the companies he and mom developed, we wanted to honor this amazing legacy and build upon the great foundation set before us, thanks to dad’s and mom’s hard work and years of dedication.
Today our companies stand strong and continue to grow by blessings from the Lord, no doubt. My brother, mother and I work together to continue the operations, and we are looking optimistically toward the future for the opportunities that lie ahead.
We have an amazing team that is leading our core companies and are thankful for their commitment to making these companies a continued success. It is a team effort, and we as second generation owners are building our team just like Dad had in the beginning.
Janie, “Mom,” continues to serve as the Chief Financial Officer overseeing all the accounting and fiscal details. She’s amazing at what she does. She’s truly the glue that keeps it all together. She and Dad built these companies from the ground up, and Mom stood by his side every step. She also has a competent and dedicated team who helps her keep all of the accounting and books up for each company.
Shane is talented in more areas than one. While he farms and operates McFarland Creek Outdoors, he also oversees all the timber purchases, lumber in the sawmills and in GF Hardwoods. Alongside his hardworking team, Shane is the key to the success of ensuring that timber and lumber are feeding the sawmills and GF Hardwoods.
Lesley, Shane’s wife, is a beautiful mother to their four kids along with being a guidance counselor at Hermitage Springs School. She has a sweet disposition and passion for kids of all ages and enjoys making a positive impact in the lives of the kids at her school. Lesley also helps within the family businesses as a supportive and positive figure. She’s a breath of fresh air and a positive influence to all she meets.
Shane & Lesley have four wonderful children who the family cherishes more than they could have ever imagined. Isaac, born 2001, is close to finishing high school and enjoys hunting and video games. Eli, born 2003, is an avid outdoorsman who loves the farm and tending to the land. He plays basketball and is in his first year of high school. Andrew, born 2006, loves basketball and is in the honors program at school.
While he’s just in junior high school, he still has dreams of being an engineer when grown. Lily, born 2011, two days after we buried dad, was a sweet surprise for the family. She has been a sweet haven for us all, and being the only girl, she is a true pride and joy.
I love and am passionate about marketing and people. I love to motivate and come up with new and creative ideas to share with all to make a positive working environment and to show the family’s appreciation for all the employees, who we like to call “family,” too.
Nick, my husband, is a veterinarian and currently helps with the businesses with a main focus on Barky Beaver. We met in 2011 when I brought a hurt basset hound, Roscoe, to him. It was truly love at first site, and we were married a year later. Nick’s been a great blessing to me and our family. He does a great job helping with Barky Beaver, and we look forward to seeing what he accomplishes in the future.
Nick enjoys operating our farms, and he is passionate about the “family” of businesses. Everyone is just like family here, and we spend just as much if not more time with them than we do our own. Nick once mentioned even if he didn’t want to be a day-to-day participant in the family of businesses, he couldn’t have resisted because of the love our family has for the employees and how you can’t help but want to be a part of something like that.
We are blessed to own and operate a store in Algood, Tennessee, called The Mill Storehouse, and we enjoy hosting barn sales twice a year on our farm, Acres of Grace Farms. The Lord is full of grace, and has blessed our family greatly, which is how we decided upon the name. As with all that we do, we wanted the Lord to be honored with the farm and chose this name as a symbol of His grace towards both our families.
As a family, we love what we do, tending the land and being good stewards of what the Lord has blessed us with. It is our desire and goal to continue to provide jobs to the wonderful folks in our community while building and growing the current companies. We are thankful for the legacy to pass down throughout the generations to carry on the Smith Family tradition.
What we do outside of the family-owned businesses.
With the considerable amount of land Dad and Mom bought for timber over the years, presently my brother, my husband and I mostly tend and nurture it. Sometimes Shane and I still invest in land together.
We have cleaned up and converted more than 4,000 acres of land that no longer grows a sustainable forest into pastureland for cattle or fields for crops. Dad always farmed, raising tobacco, cattle and some crops. Shane does mostly corn and wildlife, and Nick and I raise corn, beans and cattle through our own farming operations called Acres of Grace Farms.
Shane created McFarland Creek Outdoors, a successful business that entertains our customers with wild deer and turkey hunts within a 100-acre preserve, as well as raising his own deer inside 8’ high fence containment. He sells the opportunity for busy professionals to bag huge bucks of their dreams as trophies within a few hours, which is amazingly big business. McFarland Creek is already sold out for the 2018 season. Also, Shane is now raising elk!
Shane still has a passion to collect and restore antique cars like Dad used to do. At one time dad had more than 100 classic cars – more than most museums – fueled by his love for cars and memories of his youth. It was his wish to sell them all right before passing away in 2011.
Nick and I own a retail store in Algood, Tennessee, that is located on the Honest Abe Log Homes campus of model homes. The shop, Mill Storehouse, is in the first Honest Abe model home, which we moved from its original location. The store sells clothing, home décor, personal care products, seasonal items, eggs and Akaushi beef from Acres of Grace Farms and local dairy and fresh produce.
In 2018 we introduced A Southern Marketplace Barn Sale, which is being held for two days the third weekend in May and October each year. Old barns were converted to booths for more than 50 vendors. There’s entertainment, concessions, a vintage car cruise-in, farm and home tours, a farm-to-table dinner and more.