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Film industry’s demand for building materials boosts Georgia’s rural economies

As the sun rises over Atlanta, the team at Reel Supplies loads up trucks with building materials to be shipped to one of dozens of Georgia film studios. It’s another busy day for the team, doing whatever it takes to support an industry whose economic impact ripples throughout the state in surprising ways.

Thousands of Georgians directly benefit from the film industry’s demand for building materials through work in the lumber business. The lumber industry touches nearly every corner of Georgia — from South Georgia’s Lowndes County to North Georgia’s Fannin County; Coastal Georgia’s Effingham and Southeast Georgia’s Webster.

And at the center of this job generator sits East Point-based Reel Supplies, the only building supply company in the country dedicated solely to film and TV production.

“Every day we see how supplying building materials to the film industry touches every corner of Georgia,” says Matt Davis, Reel Supplies founder and CEO. “From people harvesting lumber in rural Georgia to those fabricating customized lumber products in metro Atlanta, Georgians are benefiting from the film industry’s growth. Our plan is to keep it up.”

Because of the fast-paced nature of the film industry, Reel Supplies leverages local distributors who depend on Georgia mills for supplies. A key component of the relationship between supplier and film production is access to these local resources.

Reel Supplies spends more than $10 million a year through wholesale lumber distributors located throughout 13 counties. The wholesale lumber is purchased from mills located throughout 52 Georgia counties.

“The film industry is an on-time, on-demand model,” says Rusty Winter, general manager of Auburn’s Boise Cascade. “We buy local and distribute locally, a key to supporting this channel efficiently and cost effectively. Consequently, we’re creating and keeping more jobs in our state.”

Supplying building materials to the film industry proved to be good business for Reel Supplies’ Matt Davis, co-founder and CEO, and Jamie Davis, co-founder and vice president. The husband and wife team started Reel Supplies in August 2021 with just Matt and Jamie, their nephew, a forklift and a truck. Less than two years later, Reel Supplies employs 16 full-time employees, two part-time employees, and pays 15 percent above industry average and offers healthcare and other benefits — all due to the thriving demand from the film industry.

Reel Supplies keeps 156 frequently requested items on hand. Of those materials, 142 are sourced in the state of Georgia covering product lines from plexiglass to moulding and millwork.

Supplies are purchased through wholesale lumber distributors like Dixie Plywood in Duluth and Boise Cascade in Auburn and both depend on a vast array of Georgia vendors spread throughout the state. Vendors like Huber in Commerce engineer high-performing panel products and Langboard MDF in Willacoochee produce medium-density fiberboard.

Tucker Door & Trim

Doors and windows are sourced from suppliers like Tucker Door & Trim in Monroe, a company that attributes more than $1 million in annual revenue to the film industry.

“We have 250 guys working our production line in Monroe, and the Georgia film industry helps keep our guys working,” says Ron Herrin, Tucker Door & Trim VP of Sales and Marketing. “The industry is looking for the value we provide and film is incredibly important to our bottom line.”

Tucker Door & Trim

Reel Supplies turns to Mom-and-Pop specialty shops as well. For one production, intricate millwork was required to replicate woodwork from the White House’s Rose Garden. Reel Supplies called on a specialty woodworking vendor in Cartersville to complete the order in a few weeks to meet the production’s tight deadlines.

Reel Supplies recently purchased a 40,000-square-foot warehouse on six acres in East Point, and plans to expand to meet the demands of Georgia’s film industry.

“Our company expanded significantly in less than two years, from one employee to 16, from one truck to four,” says Matt. “Georgia’s film industry has created incredible business opportunities and as owners of the company, we feel lucky to share it with our employees and suppliers.”

Map of Reel Supplies' vendors across GA

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