Clay Structures, Inc. sells brick and stone building supplies, fireplace units and construction supplies from its headquarters in Mabank, Texas and second location in Dallas, Texas. Dennis Thomas started Clay Structures in January 1999 with his father as his first employee. Dennis sold the product and his father Louise made all the deliveries on behalf of the business. The brick inventory was stored in a hayfield on the family farm. Within a few years of operation, Dennis’ brother Leslie joined the business.
Clay Structures realized significant growth with $500,000 in sales in year one, $1,000,000 in year two and $2,000,000 in year three. The consistent growth aided in the business laying a slab for its new building in September 2001. The Thomas’ hired Coy Anderson to join the sales team and he remains a loyal employee today.
Dennis came to the Trinity Valley SBDC in 2003 to receive assistance with his business. Dennis expanded his product offering with natural and man-made stone added to the product line. He came to the SBDC to discuss growth and expanding to a secondary location in Dallas, Texas. Dennis found land with a building and the owner was will to owner finance. Dennis needed an SBA loan to improve buildings, purchase equipment and inventory and a small amount of working capital.
In 2003, Clay Structures, Inc expanded to a second location in Dallas, Texas and was approved for an SBA loan for $100,000. This expansion was followed by several good years of growth and profits followed. In 2005, Dennis’ wife Debra managed all accounting and office operations for the business. The business would go through a significant loss of fifty percent (50%) loss in revenue in 2008 due to the credit crunch and recession. According to Dennis Thomas, “It was a struggle to survive. An SBA loan was key to our survival.”
In June 2009, the Trinity Valley SBDC Director, Mike Ellsberry engaged with Dennis and his team to assist in terming out short-term financing, obtaining additional funding and providing customized consulting services. Clay Structures, Inc. received an SBA Loan in 2009 for $1,100,000. The business was able to improve cash flow and returned to growth.
“Applying for a loan with a new bank can be extremely stressful. The folks at Community Bank were very impressed with my loan package and presentation. The credit goes to the SBDC. Thank you again.”
In 2015, Clay Structures increased their team with the addition of Dennis and Debra’s son Tyler joined the business, bringing his keen marketing skills to the operation. Tyler’s role has continued to expand as the business demands additional sophistication in its management practices. Clay Structures, Inc. has successfully engaged second generation through the addition of son Tyler and the business continues to prosper as a result.
The business continues to grow in sales year after year with 2017 sales of over $7 million and $8.4 million in 2018. Moreover, the business continues to expand from two (2) employees in 1999 in the startup phase to today with sixteen (16) employees. Dennis is active in industry trade groups and working to propose cooperative efforts with Trinity Valley College located in Athens, Texas to provide bricklayer training.
The Trinity Valley SBDC has worked with Dennis providing over seventy (70) hours of customized small business assistance for his business. Decisions are underway regarding the next stages of expansion. The SBDC is committed to dedicate effective resources for every stage of growth for Clay Structures, Inc.
Clay Structures in a true example of a family owned business who has effectively utilized resources such as SBA for funding, the SBDC for consulting services and working with the college to expand training opportunities for tradesmen. Twenty years in business has earned this company brand recognition, customer loyalty and prestige.