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Small Colorado Company Combines Artistic Expression with Exemplary Craftsmanship to Make a Big Impression in the Furniture Industry

With the help of: Manufacturer's Edge


Black Hound is a name one would at first think was associated with a dog training business or a hunting operation. This particular moniker, however, belongs to a custom furniture design and manufacturing business called Black Hound Custom Furniture and Design. A small company with only 17 employees, Black Hound was launched in 2013 when the owners, married couple James and Kate Hixson, had the grand idea to combine their artistic abilities and James’s education and experience in sculpting to create functional, unique, handcrafted furniture pieces that would delight the eye while also outfitting homes and businesses. What started as a wood sculpture for a friend or a set piece for a university theatrical production evolved into a prosperous and growing business with clients that range from boutique hotels and high-end luxury homes to a national contract with Punch Bowl Social, a chain of popular hangouts.

Black Hound’s first major client was a BBQ business in New York City who ordered several custom tables. Once the Hixson saw that their unique design capability was marketable, they went to work on creating a variety of different product designs for tables and chairs. Eventually, one sale led to another and, as word spread, referrals began contacting them with ideas and requests for furniture that exceeded their two-person workload and they had to find skilled employees to handle the unique demands associated with the design and manufacturing needs of the business.

The Challenge

As happens with any successful, expanding business, Black Hound began experiencing growing pains. Having never developed a formal planning process, the Hixsons applied for assistance through the Manufacturer’s Edge (ME) Small Manufacturer’s Advantage program that leverages state and local resources to provide assistance to companies with 20 employees or fewer.

Manufacturer's Edge is a great program. We really benefited from the fair/unbiased look at our company and the advice that followed. Sometimes we get so mired in the day-to-day running of our company that it's hard to step back and think things through objectively. This program allowed us that view.

— Kate Hixson, COO

MEP's Role

Under the guidance and facilitation of an experienced strategic planning consultant from Manufacturer's Edge, part of the MEP National Network™, Black Hound soon held their first ever formal planning/strategy meeting. The consultant assisted them in developing a sound strategic plan that challenged them and created specific goals and action plans focused on the desired growth direction of the business. 


Created June 2, 2020, Updated July 12, 2021