Ivan I. Smith, Jr.

Business Owner – Community Leader

Ivan I. Smith, Jr. was born on June 15, 1946 in Atlanta, Texas. In 1953, his family moved to Shreveport where he attended Creswell Elementary, Broadmoor Junior High and graduated from Byrd High School in 1964. He came to HSU on an athletic scholarship. He was active on campus activities, serving on the Nix Council, a member of Sigma Delta Sigma and as a member of the track team. He graduated from Hardin Simmons University in 1968 with a business degree, majoring in economics and finance.

A major influence in his life has been Dr. Elmin Howell, a 1952 graduate of HSU, who became a significant mentor of Ivan’s early life and continues in that role today.

Since his graduation, his successful life has been focused on his faith, family, business, service and leadership.

In 1968, Ivan began working for his father at Ivan Smith Furniture. He bought the business from his dad in 1976 and began expanding his locations with an average of about one store a year. Today the company has 43 Ivan Smith Furniture locations and four Ashley Homestore locations located in East Texas, Southern Arkansas, North and Central Louisiana. In 2005 the company built a 130,000 square foot, state-of-the-art distribution center in Shreveport and in 2015, expanded the distribution center, doubling the capacity for inventory.

Smith helped sponsor a Children and Youth Program for the less fortunate in Minden, Louisiana. In the early years of Shreveport/Bossier Community Renewal, Ivan was one of the primary supporters. Additionally, Ivan was a major sponsor of the Thanksgiving Blessing at the Highland Center, which feeds 500 families for a week. Ivan Smith Furniture, now led by Ivan’s sons, provides an annual fish fry to all area law enforcement. The company supports the Shreveport Independence Bowl by providing 200 tickets for veterans. Additionally, they sponsor the Caddo Parish Safety Town, which teaches safety for public and private schools. Ivan has sponsored medicine for “SHIP” (Support Humanitarianism through Intercontinental Projects) that has gone to Kenya, Africa, and an occasional medical mission trip taken by doctors and medical students. In the last few years, Ivan became one of the major sponsors of the Fellowship of Christian Athletes of Northwest Louisiana.

Mr. Smith has served on and/or chaired several boards, including Volunteers of America, Goodwill Industries, Highland Center, Commercial National Bank (now Regions), Retail Merchants Association and Hardin Simmons University Board of Trustees. In 1984, he served in Zimbabwe, Africa, rebuilding missionary housing in the bush country.

His company has received the J. Pat Beaird Industry of the Year Award and the Torch Award from the Better Business Bureau. Ivan received the Junior Achievement of North Louisiana Business Hall of Fame Award, the North Louisiana Track and Field Hall of Fame Award and the Hardin-Simmons Distinguished Alumni Award. Additionally, he received the Harry Blake Humanitarian Civil Rights Award and the America Humanitarian Award from The Volunteers of America.

In 2000, Smith was recognized as one of the top ten leaders of the new century in the Shreveport community. He received the Byrd High School Hall of Fame Award in 2013, and in 2015 the Greater Shreveport Chamber of Commerce Business Leader of the Year Award. Ivan was the recipient of the 2017 Distinguished American Award from the National Football Foundation.

As a member of the First Baptist Church in Shreveport, Smith has served as Chairman of the Deacons, the Finance Committee and Personnel Committee, and as Vice Chairman of the Pastor Search Committee. He was given the Patriot Award from First Baptist Church School where he served four terms on the Board of Trustees and coached basketball for many years.

Ivan married Gloria Greenlee in 1967 and they have four children – Lisa, Trey, Emily and Jonathan – and eight grandchildren with number nine due in August.

For his distinguished service as a business executive and community leader, it is a high honor for Hardin-Simmons University to induct one of its own, Ivan Smith, into the HSU Hall of Leaders.