October 1, 2019
Three generations of family members are now continuing the dream of Rufus Smith Jr. who founded Smithbilt Homes in 1956. Smith’s “One Man” business has evolved into a family owned and operated home construction and real estate business that proudly offers affordable, new homes in Knoxville and the surrounding counties in East Tennessee. Smithbilt takes great pride in its hands-on approach to home construction, guided by meticulous individuals who are involved from inception to construction and on to completion of each home. Considering all aspects of the home building process, the staff of Smithbilt dedicate themselves to producing a home that owners, their families, and neighbors can be proud of for generations to come.
As a family owned and operated business for more than six decades, Smithbilt’s management team knows the importance of family. For that reason, their goal is to build more than homes- the build communities in desired school zones with an emphasis on family friendliness. Those communities are replete with amenities including swimming pools, club houses, tennis courts, playgrounds, walking trails, and much more. So many of the essentials that improve the quality of life for the discerning home buyers who have chosen a Smithbilt home.
A BRICKLAYER’S DREAM
Rufus Smith Jr. was working with his father as a bricklayer in the late 1940s building small homes in Oak Ridge, Tennessee. After a break for military services from 1950 to 1952, he returned to Oak Ridge and continued in the trade he learned from his father.
In 1954, he decided to venture into business on his own as Rufus H. Smith, Jr. & Company specializing in the construction and selling of quality, affordable homes. He first broke ground in the West Haven and West Hills areas, and soon grew the business into developing subdivisions. His Seven Oaks subdivision on Kingston Pike featured larger homes.
Smith continued to grow his business. After purchasing the Baum Florist property in 1966, he branched into the construction on commercial buildings, including warehouses, offices, storage units, and built the first mini-ware-house. Those properties continue to be owned and managed today by Smith’s children who followed their father into the business. He also built and owned six apartment buildings in the Knoxville area which have since been sold.
RECOGNITION BY HIS PEERS
Smith’s unwavering commitment to quality construction and his service to the industry have been recognized with numerous awards and accolades. He was a long-time member of the Home Builders Association and served as the State President for Tennessee in 1971. Three years later he was awarded the Green Jacket as Builder of the Year. Smithbilt Homes were always included in the annual Parade of Homes. Smith was also active throughout his career in the National Home Builders Association and served as the organization’s Vice- President in 1983.
While Rufus Smith, Jr. passed away in 1992, his family members have continued pursuing the founder’s dream of helping people achieve the American Dream of home ownership. His children, Traci, Rocky, and Tom, remain active in the business today. Rocky grew up working with his father in the home and apartment construction side of the company. Traci handled the rental business. Tom joined the team upon graduating from the University of Tennessee.
With Rocky at the helm, the company separated the construction and the real estate division of the business. The real estate operations are now branded “Southland” while the construction activities continue the name “Smithbilt.”