Spurlock Family Bonds Over Faith, Thriving Furniture Business – The Exponent Telegram (press release) (registration)

Clayce Spurlock Jr. and his sons, Clayce III, Billy and Joey have no problem identifying why their Star Furniture business has thrived, sometimes even in the toughest times.

“It’s God’s grace and our faith that really moves things forward,” the father said as the four sat around a conference table at the company’s distribution center in Anmoore.

As the father spoke, his three sons nodded and voiced agreement, as they each chimed in with their own vision of God’s impact, some referring to specific scriptures while others used more anecdotal evidence.

Started as a small furniture and undertaking business by Herman Stuck in 1907 in tiny West Union, Star Furniture has grown from a small mom-and-pop operation to a much larger one.

The Spurlocks’ relationship with Star Furniture began in 1955 when Clayce Senior, better known as “Doc,” became a partner. He and his brother, Howard, eventually owned it and passed it on to their sons.

Clayce Jr. became the sole owner in 1997 and his sons have grown up in the business to become full partners, each with equal ownership, the father noted with a sense of pride.

From that time in 1997, the company has had unprecedented growth. Twenty years ago Star Furniture had seven employees; today it has about 115. There are now eight stores and the main distribution center.

They credit that growth to God.

“We had always tithed as family,” Clayce III said.

“The difference began when we started tithing as a company,” Clayce said. “And giving to the community.”

Star Furniture is well-known for its support of worthwhile community efforts, especially those that involve faith. All four men are heavily involved in their respective churches, and the company is a visible presence in the faith community.

“We’re blessed to be a blessing,” Billy said. “If you can bless someone else, it’s more rewarding.”

The company and family are strong supporters of programs that try to help youth overcome obstacles, such as drug and alcohol addiction. They support both the local effort to build a Teen Challenge facility in Harrison County, as well as the Chestnut Mountain Ranch in Monongalia County.

“We give to a lot of different churches and programs,” Clayce said. “But, we do things behind the scenes. God knows and that’s all that needs to be said.”

The family’s commitment to God extends to the company’s practice of not opening on Sunday, which goes against all trends in the furniture business.

“(The experts) say you have to be open on Sunday,” Clayce III said. “But, we don’t believe it, and look what’s happened.”

Clayce said he doesn’t look down on those who are open on Sunday and says he’s a bit hypocritical, since he shops on that day.

But he believes firmly that Sunday is a day for church and a day for family, so he wants his employees and customers to have that choice.

“We study the trends and work hard at it,” Billy said. “But, we trust in God in the decisions that are made.”

Like most businesses, the furniture industry has changed dramatically over the past 20 years that Clayce, Clayce III, Billy and Joey have become partners.

They have stayed ahead of the trends by talking with others in the business, studying happenings in other markets and understanding North Central West Virginia’s demographics, as well as anyone.

“It is challenging, with changes happening rapidly,” Clayce said. “We work very hard to keep up with the times, to be updated with what’s happening nationally.”

While none of the four have a college degree, you can say that are all Ph.D.’s from the school of “Hard Knocks.”

“When they came out of high school, they went to work,” Clayce said. “It’s amazing what God can do with uneducated, dumb hillbillies.”

The four chuckle at the elder Spurlock’s comments as it’s clear the family has built a trust in one another through their work and faith.

There are times during their hour-plus long interview the four obviously have different views, and they don’t hesitate to voice them. But, the three sons are near reverent in their approach to their father, who credits his boys for “running the daily operation,” allowing him to be more “the overall overseer.”

Clayce III handles buying and marketing; Billy is in charge of back-end operations, warehousing, logistics and IT; Joey is in charge of accounting, making sure the bills are paid and profit is made.

But they all shared memories of their start in the furniture business that actually pre-dated high school graduation.

“Growing up, I can remember all of us in the living room, putting (stick-on) addresses on mailers,” Billy said.

Since then, the brothers have done just about every job, from sales to delivery, giving them the foundation to be successful.

For the Spurlocks, their faith is visible in all that they do. And there is little doubt it guides their decision-making.

“When you are walking in your calling, it doesn’t mean there won’t be bad times,” Clayce said. “But you learn from them and eventually they help lead to good times.”

He provided examples of lost leases on locations creating short-term problems that led to relocation and business doubling in a new spot.

The boys related how they were led as a family to take a leap of faith in expanding the warehouse operation, opening the distribution center in 2006, which has allowed the company to flourish.

“With the rack system and stock pickers, it has increased our efficiency,” Billy said.

“It’s allowed us to grow, to support our sales efforts in each of our stores,” Joey said.

It was a huge investment, as the state-of-the art facility features timed lighting, a floor-to-ceiling rack system, a furniture repair shop and even a photography studio to allow staging for website photos to be taken for marketing purposes.

The company also uses a bar code system to track inventory easily, which adds to the efficiency.

Of course, a few years after opening, the Great Recession changed the economic landscape, but Star Furniture weathered that and other storms by maintaining its focus on customers, hiring and retaining good employees and trusting God.

“God just always opens the doors,” Clayce said. “We attribute all of our success to Him first, then our customers, then our employees.

“Through our faith in God, He’s grown our business. It’s nothing we do; it’s His work. This was a failing business in 1997. Now look at it. It’s all Him.”

Clayce III says when they talk of success, they look at their families and their lives, thankful for the opportunities.

“The success of what God has done in our lives — this is something we do together,” he said. “I don’t know what it’s like if one of us isn’t here.

“We all live in Harrison County. We do everything together. Even when we take a week off, we talk about work. It’s just part of us, and it’s been that way since we graduated high school.”

All four men thank their wives and families for being integral to the success, providing a strong support network that understands the demands of a customer-centered business.

“It’s about faith and family,” Clayce said, as a huge smile crossed his face. “We’re blessed.”


Write a Reply or Comment:

You must be logged in to post a comment.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.