Honest Abe founder, Doug Smith dies at 68

Doug Smith, Honest Abe Log Homes founder

UNION HILL-Honest Abe Log Homes founder, successful entrepreneur, and longtime supporter of the local community Doug Smith passed away here at his residence last Thursday, September 8 after a long battle with cancer and he is being remembered for his legacy of hard work and the impact it had on the area.

“Without my dad’s hard work, persistence, and sacrifices, our many jobs here in Clay County would have been nonexistent,” Smith’s son Shane was once quoted in the HORIZON saying as he honored his father at a company gathering.  “For a man who started out with nothing and never gave up, he has accomplished so much and helped so many people.”

Honest Abe president Randy Fudge echoed those sentiments in a statement released Monday.

“Doug didn’t know the meaning of failure and never let an obstacle get in his way.  He had the unique ability to see opportunities where others did not, and wasn’t afraid to take chances,” Fudge said.  “It was this drive that led him to great success in business, and in turn provided so many jobs to the community.”

After being raised here as a part of large family, Smith attained a mechanical engineering degree from Tennessee Tech before working away from home for a few years, but he always wanted to return to the place he was born.

The start of a small sawmill afforded him that wish and he began making broom handles, but with cheap Chinese competition he could not compete in the market and eventually turned to a pallet operation to find his initial success.

The pallet mill then led to the creation of Honest Abe in 1979 when Smith and his father Lemiel built a log home for his family from timbers gathered from the sawmill yard.

As the company was developed into the world-wide phenomenon it is today, sawmill operations under the name Green Forest Wood Products were expanded and hardwood lumber sales became another facet of Smith’s business through the creation of G.F. Hardwoods.

Throughout the late 1980s the growth of Smith’s wood product empire continued to balloon to a point in the mid-1990s where, at one time, he directly employed at least 300 workers and indirectly his companies supported numerous other jobs.

Today, Honest Abe has manufactured over 6,000 log homes worldwide, and along the way Smith ventured into other areas of business including real estate, land development, equipment sales, marina operation, and many others.

Besides the ones already mentioned, his companies included Green Forest Equipment Sales, Happy Trucking, Barky Beaver, Moss Sawmills, Livingston Sawmills, Swan Ridge Development, RockCastle Development, Allons Sawmills, Mitchell Creek Marina, and McFarland Creek Outdoors.

Smith leaves behind his wife Janie, his son, and daughter April, who have long played a part in and will continue to manage his companies.

“The legacy he leaves behind is evident, and through his family, companies and many employees, Doug will continue to inspire us well into the future,” Fudge said.