In 1970, upon graduation from college, Ernest Dwight began producing wooden signs as an extension of his new wife's embroidery business. Mr. Dwight's interests in architecture and woodworking, coupled with the graphics and lettering aspects of the embroidery and monogramming in his wife's business, provided a unique mix of capabilities with which to enter the sign business. The company, then known as F&D Wooden Signs, initially focused its energies calling on architectural and design firms in the Carolinas. The goal was to offer those firms a dependable, quality driven source for the production of the newly-coined term "architectural signage," but in methods and materials which had a different look from the norm. Literally pioneering the methods and materials used to create "natural" looking wood signs, the company soon had to add staff and move to a larger facility. As a part of this move, and anticipated future growth, the decision was made to change the firm name to SouthWood Corporation.
Within several years it became evident that many clients needed more in-depth sign planning and graphic design expertise than was regularly available, so the company staffed its own in-house wayfinding & design department. This allowed the organization to offer full design-to-fabrication capabilities to clients who required it, while also strengthening SouthWood's ability to "speak the language" of design with its designer clients.
As demand for its services and products grew, SouthWood found itself doing work over a broader geographic area, and becoming more involved in the use of different materials for fabrication. The growth prompted two more facility moves, resulting in the company's 40,000 square foot current location. Over the past 45+ years SouthWood has served clients throughout the United States and in over two dozen countries.
Today the firm employs approximately 50 people, several of whom have been at SouthWood over 30 years. The emphasis is design/build, although much work continues for outside design and specifier firms. Likewise, most of SouthWood's work today is for large, sometimes multi-site signage systems, although commissions for single pieces and smaller projects are still taken.