Built to Last for Generations to Come.
When building a family business meant to endure, the strength must come from the foundation up. Making a conscious choice to create a long-lived company is the first step in building a strong foundation. It takes some luck to survive for generations, certainly, but these things don’t happen by accident either. It starts with your intentions. For 44 years, Sam and Travonda Satterwhite have done just that. Here Sam shares his passion for family and his family business, Satterwhite Log Homes.
After a career in log homes that goes back 44 years (so far!), I find myself reflecting back a lot and considering more and more the things that really matter. Faith, family, friendships, integrity, patriotism, obligations. These are on my short list.
Like most folks, I hope to leave a family (and a family business) well grounded in the things that matter. As a grandfather, it is a fervent desire that these grandkids grow up with pride instead of shame in their family and their family business.
A family business like ours expands our family, not by blood, but by relationships. We share each other’s joys, births, birthdays, graduations, and all the happy milestones. We also share the sad times with each other. Customers become close friends and so the family grows.
Our business and family began back in the mid-seventies. The smartest thing I ever did was marrying my first secretary, Travonda. Maybe the second smartest was to stay with my instincts about our fledgling log home company.
We began by using dry logs to build log homes because it made sense then. It has continued to make sense for all these four plus decades. We are a major producer of house logs and lumber products from dead-standing timber, timber killed from bark beetle epidemics in high elevations of the Rocky Mountains. Because of economies of scale, lighter shipping weights, and our business philosophy, we can ship across the entire country and still be extremely price competitive with the rest of the log home and lumber industry.
Satterwhite Log Homes is the most radical company in our industry when it comes to moisture content. At our mill in Utah, every log destined to become part of a log wall is oriented through the mill top first. We do this so that the wettest end, the butt, is always on the same end through the entire process. That way the moisture testing station always checks the wettest end of each piece. And every timber sawed is tested, not every other, not a random sample. Every piece is moisture tested. And if it is too high, it is sent back through the mill to be sawn into 1, 2, or 3” thick lumber so that it will never have a chance to be a house log.
What difference does that make to a homeowner or builder in the Blue Ridge Mountains? It means our logs move less and are more stable in your log home, when it’s built and for the future of the families that live in it. Something we are very proud of is that, because of our dry logs and house our houses go together, we have never yet had one of our homes blown down or the log walls pulled apart by tornado or hurricanes. Consider that most of our homes are in “tornado alley,” (Texas, Oklahoma, Arkansas, Kansas & Missouri), and have survived up to F5 storms, so you can rest easy that they are solid and strong.
Back in the eighties I traveled the southeast frequently calling on builders and other log home companies we sold logs and lumber to, and I fell in love with North Georgia and the entire southern Appalachian region. I wondered many times how my family could leave Pine Mountain Georgia in 1856 to go to Texas. Many of my cousins headed back East to fight in the war between the States, going back to their new home of Texas afterward.
Our family and family business has been blessed beyond measure for all these years in spite of dumb things I do. I picked the worst possible time to stake our claim in Ellijay in 2006. North Georgia, and Ellijay in particular, was a major hub of log home activity. We never feared competition, rather they feared us, and we were itching to compete when we came. We just didn’t know the boom was about to bust when we opened our new facility in April ‘08! Timing could not have been worse yet many in our business said we had built the best, most beautiful office and model east of the Mississippi.
Through hardheaded determination we held on through some tough times, times, that sank most of our competition. Without our dedicated staff headed by Don Estes and Ron Lomonaco, we couldn’t have survived. When the market turned, repos sold, and folks started building again, we were ready! Having experienced bad times, our company family has been humbled, and appreciates our customers more than we ever have. That humbling has made me a better person. I say “Thank You” to folks for buying a 2×4 just like I do to someone who spends a million dollars.
As our business began to improve, we have had low points, too. Three years ago November, our close friend and Ellijay,Georgia Manager, Don Estes, was taken by cancer. We have missed him tremendously, but Ron Lomonaco stepped up and is doing an exemplary job running “Satterwhite East”. Ron was an outstanding young man when we first ran into him, a friendly, happy young builder who was drawn to our log homes. His first assignment was to go (at age 22!) to New Zealand to train “Kiwis” to build our log homes. Afterwards, Ron came to our sales team and what better person to guide you through the building process than one who knows the project and process from the ground up? Ron and his sweet wife Britney and new son, Logan, are Ellijay natives who know the area well. Their roots run deep.
To round out our Georgia family, Cindy Key, our office manager, will meet you in our Ellijay office. Cindy is a friendly, helpful, professional, and her winning smile will put you at east as soon as you come through the door. Whether it’s around the office, loading lumber on your truck, or delivering to your jobsite, James Aaron will always greet you with a smile, with his booming voice. This bear of a man makes everybody comfortable. He and I call each other “Cousin”, and even if we aren’t, we ought to be!
Chris Crump joined our sales group just over a year ago. Chris and his wife, Keshia, just recently welcomed a new baby girl, Landree, to their family.
Travonda and I are so fortunate to have such a great group of people in our company family, whether they are in Texas, Utah or Georgia! Family Matters!
For more information visit
Satterwhite Log Homes
Eastern Sales Office & Model Home
14378 Highway 515 N
Ellijay, Georgia 30536