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This story is part of an on-going series recognizing the Springfield-Washington County Chamber of Commerce award winners.
The Springfield-Washington County Chamber of Commerce added the ‘Entrepreneur of the Year’ award to its list of honors at this year’s awards gala, and the inaugural winner certainly fits the bill.
Wesley Smith, owner of Smith Contracting in Springfield, was recognized for the work he’s done as a business owner over the last decade, as well as his continuous drive to expand into other ventures.
Smith Contracting celebrated its 10-year anniversary in January, but it’s not the only area of Washington County where the owner is making his mark. Smith has also taken on ownership of rental properties, including the Rosary Heights development, and Oil Pros Instant Oil Change, which he opened with Michael McCain just last year.
“We thought that was a need for people in Washington County,” Smith said of opening Oil Pros. “Time is of the essence anymore. We felt like the days of dropping off vehicles and picking them back up are kind of far gone. It’s the speed of the 21st century.”
Smith said his primary business of Smith Contracting has grown exponentially in recent years thanks to the community’s support. It came from a humble beginning and now employs six full-time employees who work on jobs throughout Washington, Marion and Nelson counties, and even as far away as Lexington and Sparta.
“We did anything that it took to make a buck and to survive. We mowed Cemetery Hill for three years when we first started out,” Smith said.
Great employees and great customers helped Smith’s business balloon into the full-service heating and cooling and electrical contracting company that it has become today.
“I have to give a lot of credit to the employees that I’ve had over the past 10 years. They’ve been super, and so has our customer base,” Smith said. “I think those are two main keys. Also, I’m a devout Christian, and I think God gives back as you give to him.”
He also attributed his drive to the support he’s received from his wife, Abby, and his parents, Steve and Wanda Smith of Springfield. That made it all the more meaningful that Steve was the presenter of Smith’s award at the awards gala.
“That was pretty special. I’ve got to give a lot of credit to both of my parents for everything they’ve done for me. They groomed me into the young man that I am today, but most importantly they taught me how to work and taught me my faith,” he said. “It meant a lot, it really did.”
The award itself showed Smith that his work within the community isn’t going unnoticed.
“I was very appreciative of the award. Sometimes we all feel like we do things that nobody really sees,” he said. “Not that we always have to be acknowledged for those, but it is nice to be recognized when you really have put all your heart into something and you’re working hard every day to make it a better community.”
Being an entrepreneur, Smith knows that some could view the success he’s had over the last 10 years with a jaded perspective, which made being honored by the people he lives and works with all the sweeter. He learned long ago that positioning himself around successful people was a much more beneficial strategy than trying to bring them down.
“Some people in society look at someone who is succeeding and have a hard time supporting them,” he said. “I believe in surrounding myself with (successful) people, because they will help you and bring you along with them as opposed to trying to hold you back.”
That mentality has spread to the Washington County community. Smith believes the reason behind that is that he’s built a certain level of trust with his customers.
“I’d have to say that with my business, it’s been about giving the community exactly what you promised them,” he said. “It’s encouraged the community to really give back to a small company like us instead of purchasing out of town.
“I want them to feel like Smith Contracting gave them 110 percent of what they paid for,” Smith added. “I don’t expect anyone to pay until they feel that they have received that.”
As for the current state of business, like most other folks, Smith just wants to see the economy continue to rebound from the downswing of recent years.
“I hope the economy continues on its uprise. That’s going to be key with rising health costs and costs of goods, fuel, etc. That’s really been a tough expense to try to manage in the growth of any business that I own,” he said. “It seems to take day-by-day following to keep a handle on that, but I hope to continue to build and do more in the community as time goes on.”
Smith may try his hand at a new business venture down the road, but for now, he’s content with what he’s already established. No new businesses are in the works, yet, that is.
“Not as of today, but tomorrow may be different. I pretty much take it day by day,” he said. “Springfield has some room to grow as far as development and new industry. It’s just finding what the local people will support.”