Southwest Trading Post has an old-school business format, and owner Dave Oliver said he likes it that way. He still uses a leather-bound ledger to track his finances and provides hand-written receipts to customers who come in for native hardwood furnishings and specialty building materials in his Bee Cave-area shop. There are no computers, spreadsheets or online shopping for this 24-year-old business—just the hum of a saw, country music and Oliver’s staff.
“We’re putting out things that people don’t see every day,” Oliver said, referencing the mantels and tabletops created by highlighting the natural beauty of mesquite, pecan and cedar tree logs.
Oliver said he has his own sawmill and enlists a team of long-standing employees to craft custom wood pieces.[/caption]
His business sells about 40 mantels monthly, he said. Customers can select the type of wood they prefer fresh from the kiln and customize it to suit their homes, he said.
Oliver buys top-quality native hardwood directly from logging companies and processes the raw product into furnishings and building materials on-site, he said. He has his own sawmill and a team of dedicated employees—most of who have been with the company for eight to 18 years, he said.
“Good employees make your business, and I have some of the best craftsmen around,” Oliver said.
Since graduating from high school in 1977, the native Austinite said he has always been in business for himself. He settled onto Hamilton Pool Road in 1993 and began Southwest Trading Post by selling wood furniture. During the business’s first eight years, he said he followed style trends and transitioned into the specialty market he serves today.
Southwest Trading Post owner Dave Oliver offers hardwood fireplace mantels.[/caption]
Oliver teamed up with contractors and homebuilders to create works inspired by the look and feel of homes in Austin and its suburbs.
“When you’re in [business] for the long run, you have to keep up with the times, not only in styles, but pursue products that are more profitable,” he said. “That’s how we ended up here. Evolving the business from furniture to what we are doing now has opened the door to huge opportunity.”
Southwest Trading Post
16016 Hamilton Pool Road, Austin
Hours: Mon.-Fri. 8 a.m.-5 p.m., Sat. 9 a.m.-1 p.m.