Citing a difficult economy and the federal government’s more restrictive lending policies, XS Smith, a fourth generation family-owned and operated greenhouse manufacturer, is closing its doors this summer.
“It’s not an easy situation or an easy decision,” says Skip Smith, president of XS. “But we’ve had the slowest spring in the last 40 years. We’re forecasting out, and the industry’s not looking good.”
Smith says they’ve seen many of their customers go bankrupt, including Carolina Nurseries, one of their largest, which closed two years ago. “Most, if not all, my other large customers I talk to say I’m doing the smart thing,” he says. A huge surplus of used greenhouses has also affected his business.
The Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act has made borrowing money much more difficult as well, Smith says, saying the law now requires a complete reevaluation of the property when applying for a loan, slowing and complicating the process. “It hasn’t been fun anymore,” Smith says.
The future of his employees weighs heavily on Smith’s mind. “It’s the biggest concern I have,” he says. “It hurts. Some of them have been with us for 35 years. I’m really worried about them.”
The final closing of the doors is still six to eight weeks away. “We’re still working in the shop, still moving product, and even taking some orders,” Smith says.
Smith asks that the people to whom his company owes money “just hang with us a little bit,” saying the company has substantially more assets than liabilities. They are selling off inventory and equipment. “Our intent is to pay everyone 100 percent and be done,” Smith says.