Southwestern Family of Companies is an international, employee-owned conglomerate. It was started in 1855 as Southwestern Publishing House. In 2023, it was made up of 19 individual businesses. These businesses are in various industries including publishing, insurance, investment services, real estate, travel, business and leadership coaching, and sales.
In 1855, Southwestern Publishing House began in Nashville, Tennessee. It got its name because Nashville was then in the southwestern part of the United States. Initially, they published The Tennessee Baptist and sold religious booklets by mail for 20¢ and 30¢.
During the Civil War, bibles were mainly printed in the North. In 1861, Graves started printing bibles after acquiring plates from the North. The 1864 Battle of Nashville led to a Union victory, prompting Graves to move to Memphis. The company resumed publishing in 1867.
In 1868, Graves shifted from mail orders to training young men as independent dealers selling door-to-door to earn money for college. The company relocated to Nashville in 1879 under new ownership. By 1921, it became one of the largest person-to-person sales companies in the 1920s.
After World War II, Southwestern faced challenges but rebounded, growing to over 1,500 independent reps by 1947. Ownership changed hands in 1959, with Spencer Hays joining and expanding into various products and services.
In 1968, Times-Mirror Company acquired Southwestern. In 1982, it was sold back to executives. Southwestern earned a spot on the Inc. 5000 list in 2012. In 2022, Henry Bedford became CEO after Dustin Hillis stepped down, marking a continuation of Southwestern’s dynamic history.
Southwestern Ventures was founded as part of the Southwestern Family of Companies to create career and entrepreneurial opportunities for young people in Europe. We focus on elevating partners’ sales in addition to starting and on-boarding new businesses by leveraging the family of companies’ strong network of talented alumni.
The journey started in December 2018 when Jaak Roosaare together with our CFO Madli Suitslepp managed to create 80+ part-time positions already in the first 12 months of operation and help several partners fundraise and G4S increase fire safety by selling and installing connected COO detectors.
We currently have 4 divisions: Finance, Insurance, Fundraising, and Home Services. Headquartered in Tallinn, Estonia, we also do business in Latvia, Lithuania, and Poland.
We focus on offering people inspiring careers in a youthful and growth-oriented environment.
Since 2021, Ventures is lead by Priit Märtin.
Since 1855, Southwestern Family of Companies has been guided by principles built on the foundation of truth. These principles have shined a light on the path often surrounded by darkness and showed us the way through the Civil War, the Great Depression, many recessions, and both World Wars. Over the past 160+ years, we have stayed true to our mission of building people and serving our communities worldwide by helping people reach their goals in life.
Today, we find ourselves in a world focused on building walls instead of bridges. Many people are more focused on fame and fortune than inspiring kindness and filling needs. Some companies create products that harm instead of services that help. Lots of people get distracted by divisiveness rather than committing to unity.
Our diverse family of companies has one immensely unifying gravitational force: We exist to help our customers, clients, and team members achieve their goals in life. Products and services are what people truly need, and they deliver the benefits they promise.
Company team members operate based on principles and not from self-centered motives. Southwestern Family of Companies continues to innovate and will continue to grow.
This is important because throughout history, small groups of like-minded people have positively impacted the world. We only get one life to make a difference. What we do with our lives matters. We are created to serve, support, and help.
160 years from now, we will have made a difference in the trajectory of the world by choosing to align our vision and values in the service of others and live by the right principles focused on helping people.