Holmes County is a wonderful place for start-ups and entrepreneurship, whether you’re looking to build from scratch or move to a location you can grow into.
In 1990, Barb and Ernie Hershberger were seeking a new business venture. Barb’s family had established a boot and harness shop and a quilt store, but she was intrigued by the idea of selling furniture. Initially operating out of the family’s old chicken coop, Homestead Furniture introduced Holmes County to quality pieces made in North and South Carolina.
Ernie came from a family of cabinetmakers, and so – when he worked at Homestead on the weekends – he’d sell furniture like a cabinetmaker: offering customizations in wood type, stain, finish, sizing, and more. The only problem? The Carolina builders only wanted to sell their product in large quantities, as is.
So, Homestead got creative, leaning into local builders to manufacture the customs pieces. When word got out that Homestead would do customizations, business really took off, and Barb and Ernie decided to start building their own furniture. In 2001, they took the courageous step of opening a manufacturing facility that has continued to expand.
Since then, Homestead has continued to grow. They moved from the old chicken coop into a 27,000 square foot store in Mt. Hope that features 3 floors of furniture, all made by Homestead or builders in a 30-mile radius, plus live edge slabs, mattresses, and custom upholstery.
To help facilitate the build and move, Homestead turned to the HCEDC. Through the Enterprise Zone program, Homestead saved significant funds on taxes that allowed them to maintain their current workforce, while also added several new employee positions. The company was also able to make good use of the fact that there were no zoning restrictions, a very fair tax base, and numerous B2B connections made with construction companies ready to help Homestead succeed.
Ernie was so grateful for and committed to the HCEDC’s work and mission that he joined the Board, and is now able to offer the tools and resources of the Economic Development Council to other young and growing businesses.