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Southwest Mobile Storage - Best Mobile Storage & Office Containers In Henderson, CO

Southwest Mobile Storage is a family-owned shipping container business founded in 1995. Our strength for more than 25 years comes from the specialized knowledge and passion of our people, along with serving over 24,000 commercial, construction and residential customers. Our facility and expertise in maintaining, manufacturing, and delivering corrugated steel containers is unrivaled in the industry.

While the rental side of our business is regional with branches throughout the Southwest, our container sales and modification operations are nationwide and becoming global. Henderson, CO offers a wide selection of portable offices and mobile storage containers you can rent, buy or modify.

Our experts in container rental, sales and customization are committed to providing you the highest quality and best experience from service to delivery - our reputation depends on it.

Whether your need is for storage, office space, moving, multi-purpose or custom use, we've got your back. Here's how:

Storage Containers Henderson, CO



We bring your storage container to you for convenient, easy access at your home, business or jobsite. Plus, you'll get more choice in storage space and better security, for a fraction of the cost of a pod or add on building, saving money and energy.


Not enough room to keep a storage container at your business, home or construction site? No problem - we can store it for you. Plus, you get 70% more space and better security, for a fraction of the cost of public storage units.


Need a permanent storage solution for your business, residence or construction? We sell new and used shipping containers in many sizes with a variety of add-ons. Or customize a container to your specific storage needs with our certified fabrication experts.


Take your time packing with our moving containers. We'll deliver to your business or home and pick it up whenever you're ready to move. So, you don't have to stress about moving or making multiple trips in one day, like if you rented a moving truck.


Our moving container solutions ensure the long-distance move of your home or business is highly efficient and affordable throughout the southwest. In fact, we usually cost 20%-40% less than full-service movers.


We understand move-in and move-out dates might be different. We can store your moving container at our highly secure facilities until you're ready to move to your new home or business location, and you can conveniently access it at any time.


Whether you need a workspace, conference room, or other office requirement, our ground-mounted mobile offices meet any and all of your business needs. Plus, it's faster and easier than building additions.


If you need your shipping container to serve multiple uses, such as office-storage combos, breakrooms and even utilities, we've got you covered. We'll modify a custom container to fit your business needs and bring your business to the next level


We'll create a custom container to fit your unique needs anywhere in the US. With our container modification expertise, we make any idea a reality. From pop-up stores to multi-story structures, our unrivaled facilities and fabrication experts do it all.

You'll get your own dedicated storage and container expert to serve as your one point of contact for easy, convenient service you can trust.
With our wide selection of intermodal containers for sale and rent, you'll find exactly what you need, from size, to type and condition.
We maintain our rental fleet to the highest standard - our integrity depends on it.
Our certified, experienced Conex container modification experts have more than 500 years combined experience modifying ISO containers.
All of our containers come with high security dual-locking system for no additional charge, so you can rest assured your stored items stay safe and that you don't have to pay extra for it.
At our unrivaled 90,000 sq ft indoor fabrication facility, ensuring your custom shipping container is made exactly to your specifications.
With our level of service, quality and expertise, you won't find a better value anywhere else.
Our portable offices include lighting and electrical outlets, internet hookups, HVAC and were crafted by our in-house steel container fabrication experts for top-quality construction.

Premium Quality - High Security

With Southwest Mobile Storage, you get much more than a POD or typical Conex box. You also get high security, unparalleled service and unmatched container modification expertise and facilities. No other company offers that much.

Shipping containers and storage containers come in a range of sizes. The most common external lengths are 20ft and 40ft with a width of 8ft. ISO Containers are typically 8ft 6in tall, but high cube containers are 9ft 6in tall. We also have steel containers in a variety of sizes from 10ft long to 45ft long to rent or buy, and we can modify shipping containers into any size you want.

 Rent Storage Containers Henderson, CO

SMS Mobile Storage Containers have these high quality features:

1/8" thick steel plate bottom side rails
High strength steel supporting cross members
1 1/8" thick hardwood floor with galvanized self-tapping screws
16-gauge corrugated steel walls
16-gauge roof
270-degree swing cargo door(s)
High security dual-locking system*
Spot-grinded, primed & repainted with a beige high-grade water reducible alkyd direct-to-metal enamel*
* Comes standard on all rental units

SMS portable workspace containers have these structural features:

High security window bars, lever & deadbolt set with lock box
Studs & R-19 Insulation covered with wood paneling
1 1/8" marine board floor is covered with a durable single part gray epoxy coating
Dual pane low-E horizontal sliding windows with screens and miniblinds
18 Gauge steel polystyrene core 3-hour fire rated personnel door
All of our workspaces are manufactured in-house and arrive new or restored to factory specifications
Exterior load center operating on 100 Amp single phase 230 Volt power
Light switch, receptacles and 4' light fixtures; all wiring is Romex 12/2
CAT-6 voice and data lines with electrical junction box
HVAC units ranging from 1 ton to 2 ton on rentals; ability to customize up to 10 tons of cooling

Having flexible storage containers options is important, but security is crucial to protect your peace of mind and your possessions.

At Southwest Mobile Storage, we don't believe in leaving things to chance. We want you to rest easy knowing your inventory, documents, tools, equipment and other items are safe 24/7. That is why we equip SMS high-security slide bolt locking systems and lockboxes on our entire fleet of rental freight containers.


High-security slide-bolt locking system and extra-long lock box, giving you twice the security and peace of mind.
No holes to ensure your rental shipping container is wind and water-tight.
No rust for your safety.
14-gauge corrugated steel for strength and reinforcement.

Contact us to speak with a helpful, friendly representative to better understand our full range of capabilities. We are happy to answer any questions you have, go over pricing and set up a time and place to deliver your Conex box. Our quotes are 100% free and you are under no obligation to pay for your consultation.


When you own a business or manage one, it's crucial to have efficient, affordable ways to store inventory and supplies, whether it's to grow your business or adapt to changes in the market, like the many caused by the pandemic.

Renting storage containers to keep at your business eliminates the cost and hassles of sending your staff to offsite storage facilities. Steel containers with roll up doors make storing and retrieving items faster and easier. Auto repair shops and other businesses that need easy access throughout the workday to secure storage for tools, parts, equipment or supplies find renting shipping containers to be the best solution for their business storage needs. Southwest Mobile Storage has your back.

 Storage Containers For Rent Henderson, CO

Renting portable offices gives your business more workspace, breakrooms, pop up stores, security booths and more, without the cost and red tape associated with constructing building additions. Plus, a steel storage container fits neatly into one parking space and provides much stronger security than Pods and way more convenience than self-storage units.

If you have a specific need, we can modify shipping containers to build whatever you need to grow your business. Whether it's a portable workspace to run your business, like a pop-up container bar, or a durable facility for scientific research, like a container laboratory, or even a container gym, our unrivaled fabrication facility and modification experts got you covered. Our full-time, in-house staff of certified welders, engineers, electricians, carpenters and painters have over 500 years combined experience modifying thousands of container projects for just about any business use you can imagine.


Offsite storage alternatives cause a mess of hassles and headaches. Expanding office space and storage capacity at your location saves time, money and hassle of making multiple trips offsite.
We offer more choice in security, size and features in steel Conex boxes or ISO shipping containers than a public storage unit or Pod for less cost and far greater service.
We offer flexible, month-to-month rental agreements and prorate by the day after your first 28-day billing cycle.
With us, you get a dedicated account manager you can rely on, so you can focus on running your business than waste time with a different person every time you call that doesn't know or care as much.
While other companies may have some staff for modifying containers, most outsource the work, so you don't know who is actually doing the modifications or how much they're marking up the price.
 Mobile Storage Containers Henderson, CO
When you modify a shipping container for your business, you won't have to worry about expensive, lengthy and complicated construction.
We have modified thousands of containers nationwide and internationally for more than 25 years for NASA, US Navy, GCP Applied Technologies, Helix and Sundt to name a few. And rent containers to Amazon, Walmart and many of other nationally recognized brands.
Our extensive staff makes it possible to custom build multiple projects simultaneously and our 90,000 sq ft indoor fabrication facility prevents contaminants from interfering with fabrication, which delivers better quality and precision.


With an extensive in-house staff and 90,000 sq ft container modification facility, we're able to deliver consistently high quality and work on multiple projects simultaneously for a fast turnaround.

Other companies don't have the facility, staff or resources to modify shipping containers and will outsource the work to various shops who may not have the special experience or tools needed to modify the right way.

You can rest assured knowing your custom container is safe in our hands. Our certified weld and quality control inspectors ensure everything is structurally sound and built to your specifications through every step of the process.

Renting a moving container from us makes your move much less stressful because you won't have to rush to pack your whole house into a moving truck in one day. Instead, you can take your time packing over the course of a month.

Our ISO shipping containers are weatherproof and come with vault-like security, so you don't have to worry about theft or damage to your belongings.

You won't get that level of security from U-Haul or other moving truck companies.

Renting a storage container at your home keeps your belongings close and gives you convenient 24/7 access, so you're always able to retrieve the contents of your container when you need to.

We know move in and move out dates don't always line up. We can store your packed rental container at our secure facility until your new home is ready.

With our mobile storage containers for rent in Henderson, CO, you can save up to 40% when compared to full-service long-distance movers, while gaining more flexibility in your schedule.


We know your needs may change suddenly. With our extensive inventory and variety of sizes of portable offices and shipping containers to rent, buy or modify in Henderson, CO, we provide fast service and the best value possible so it's easy for you to get whatever you need when you need it.

Renting storage containers and portable offices from us gives you more flexibility when it comes to your schedule and options. If you don't have enough space at your current location or simply would prefer offsite storage, you can keep your rental storage and office containers at your location or ours - whichever is most convenient for you. You also get more options to choose from when it comes to size and features, like portable offices with divided rooms for private meetings or office/storage combos for storage and office space in one container. All while costing a fraction of the price of a pod or self-storage facility.

You can also buy new or used freight containers from us and choose from a variety of add-ons, including lights, electricity, doors and windows. Or fully customize a shipping container to save time, money and energy by skipping the expensive, lengthy process of constructing building additions. We can modify a Conex box into whatever you can imagine for any use you need, from construction tool cribs to office buildings, monitoring stations, mobile communication towers and much more. The possibilities are endless.


You'll never face hidden fees or surprises with us. We give you transparent billing up front at the best prices.

With us, you get a reliable, dedicated point of contact, who keeps you updated every step of the way. You can rest assured knowing you'll always get what you need, when you need it.

No other company has the breadth and depth of staff and experience that we do when it comes to modifying shipping containers. Our certified welders, engineers, electricians, plumbers, carpenters and painters have more than 500 years of combined experience in fabricating custom steel containers.

We prorate your rent by the day after the first 28-day billing cycle, so you don't have to pay for a full month when you only have your mobile containers and offices for a few days.

While other companies may be able to do small container modifications, most don't have an in-house fabrication staff or 90,000 sq ft fabrication facility like we do. As a result, they outsource the work on your custom container, so you don't know who's actually building it.

Rest assured knowing your modified shipping container will be built to the highest quality standards. Our certified weld and quality control inspectors check every step of the fabrication process to ensure everything is structurally sound and built to your specifications.


Whether you're in need of a storage container for your commercial business, a portable office for your construction site, or a moving container for your home, our process is simple and straightforward.

Choose Your Container

Choose the mobile storage solution that works best for your needs. In this step, you will let us know the number of containers you need, their sizes and what types of doors to equip.

Choose Your Options

Let us know if you would like to add any of our rental options, like a folding table or shelving.

Choose Your Security

Choose from padlocks, puck locks and other enhanced security options. All of our storage containers come standard with dual-locking, vault-like security.

Choose Your Delivery Timeframe

You can expect standard delivery within 3-5 days of your order. If you need expedited delivery, we will do everything in our power to accommodate your needs.

Pick-Up Planning

Do you need to keep your shipping container at our location? Prefer to have our team deliver your packed container to a location of your choice? Let us know, and we'll be by your side to work out the logistics.




Let our team know where we should deliver your mobile storage container for rent in Henderson, CO. Be sure to let us know if there are any special conditions that might prevent our drivers from entering your chosen destination. Before you schedule your delivery, let us know which direction you would like the doors of your container to face.



Our drivers can deliver your storage container Monday-Friday, between the hours of 6AM and 2PM local time. Our two-hour delivery window is the most precise in the industry. If you desire another delivery time outside of our standard delivery options, we will do our best to accommodate your needs. As a courtesy, our driver will call you at least 30 minutes before they arrive at your drop-off destination.



Before we deliver your Conex box, prepare your delivery area by ensuring that there are no low overhangs, arches, wires, trees or any other obstacles that could interfere with your delivery. It's a good idea to mark the space where you would like your steel container placed.



When our driver arrives, they will back our truck into the space where you would like your shipping container placed. Once we arrive, we will ensure that your container is delivered safely and securely. If placed on asphalt or pavement, we will use wood dunnage pads to make sure your ground surface is protected and the container is level.


Check out our FAQ page or reach out to our helpful customer service team today @


Latest News in Henderson, CO

Janus Henderson: ‘We’re back to a world of fundamental investing’

Janus Henderson's portfolio managers discuss why fundamental investing is back this year. 7 March 2023After last year’s sell-off in public markets, we are back to an environment that favours fundamental investing, according to participants at a recent roundtable hosted by Janus Henderson.“I think we’re back to a world of fundamental investing,” said Richard Clode, portfolio manager at Janus Henderson and co-manager of the global technology leaders and sustainable future technologies strategies....

Janus Henderson's portfolio managers discuss why fundamental investing is back this year.

7 March 2023

After last year’s sell-off in public markets, we are back to an environment that favours fundamental investing, according to participants at a recent roundtable hosted by Janus Henderson.

“I think we’re back to a world of fundamental investing,” said Richard Clode, portfolio manager at Janus Henderson and co-manager of the global technology leaders and sustainable future technologies strategies.

“Interest rates are going to stay higher for longer, central banks are going to be tapering and not doing QE and you’re going to have to have a company that is self-sufficient. And we just got away from that in recent years.”

Clode’s views echoed sentiments expressed by other fund managers in recent months who have said that this year is not about making big sector calls but rather about doing bottom-up research to find companies that are well-positioned to prosper in this environment.

The rally in equity and bond markets, which began in October, started to reverse last month as investors grapple with the prospect that the US Federal Reserve may persist with its rate hiking cycle longer than expected due to sticky inflation.

This type of environment increases the risk of recession, which market observers say underscores the need for active management.

Those views were echoed by the other participants and Andy Acker, portfolio manager at Janus Henderson and manager of the global life sciences and biotechnology strategies, also observed that the healthcare sector had seen a polarisation in stock performance lately based on the success of clinical data.

“We saw a real bifurcation, where companies coming out with successful data, positive data, addressing unmet needs performed very well in the market and those that had disappointing data performed poorly. Now you see a real differentiation and as an active investor in the sector that’s the kind of environment that we want to see,” he said.

Clode said that he was bullish on China, citing the amount of pent-up demand following the end to the country’s zero-Covid policy in December.

“We’ve significantly increased our China exposure, specifically around Chinese internet, because we think that’s a great play on pent-up exposure. There are various numbers out there. But $2.6trn of excess savings over the last three years, the GDP of Germany or something, that’s hopefully something that should be unleashed,” he said.

Tim Gibson, portfolio manager and co-head of global property equities, did not share the same enthusiasm as Clode, pointing out that although China had taken a number of steps lately to shore up the embattled property sector including its much-touted 16-point plan, the outlook remained challenging.

“I think the recovery such as it is will probably be more l-shaped than any particular strong bounce back. One has to be open to the possibility that more measures are coming and this could be the bottom. But frankly for us relative valuations and the fact that China is not in our benchmark means we’re probably happy to stay clear from the residential market at this point in time,” he said.

Finally, one of the standout performers last year were macro funds. Macro strategies, which base their holdings on the economic and political outlook of a given country or certain other macroeconomic factors, experienced their best year in decades last year, on the back of some of the biggest interest rate and currency moves in many years.

Andrew Kaleel, portfolio manager at Janus Henderson, said that he expected this year to be much tougher, although he said there were still opportunities with a weaker dollar and also in fixed income.

“Last year was probably some of the easier trends that we were able to jump on board. This year will certainly be a lot more selective. Clearly the weakness in the US dollar will provide opportunities,” he said. “But, of course, bonds at these levels look a lot more attractive, particularly at the short end of the curve.”

'Put some respect on his name': Jude Bellingham takes a swipe at Jordan Henderson's critics after he capped display against Senegal with a goal... as Jamie Carragher hails 'brilliant' England midfielder for always answering criticism 'in the right way'

Jude Bellingham called on Jordan Henderson's critics to 'put some respect on his name' after he scored England's opener in their dominant last-16 win over Senegal.Henderson retained his place in midfield, alongside Bellingham and Declan Rice, and he became the first ...

Jude Bellingham called on Jordan Henderson's critics to 'put some respect on his name' after he scored England's opener in their dominant last-16 win over Senegal.

Henderson retained his place in midfield, alongside Bellingham and Declan Rice, and he became the first Liverpool player to score at the 2022 World Cup when he slotted in for 1-0, converting Bellingham's cut-back.

The Borussia Dortmund star took most of the plaudits at full-time but Bellingham made his feelings clear on Henderson on his social media.

'Put some respect on his name,' Bellingham wrote, coupled with four pictures of the pair together in the win over Senegal.

Speaking to ITV Sport, Bellingham hit out at the 'rubbish' that is said about Henderson.

'I have seen some of the rubbish that was said about (Henderson) playing,' said Bellingham. 'It's ridiculous. He's so technically talented and he scored another goal in a massive game. He should get more respect.'

Jude Bellingham took aim at Jordan Henderson's critics after England's 3-0 win over Senegal

Bellingham (left) wants more respect given to Henderson (right), who netted the opening goal

Jamie Carragher also praised Henderson after his influential performance against Senegal


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Jurgen Klopp's Liverpool side are under a lot of pressure at home following a rocky start to their Premier League campaign and the World Cup has provided a chance for some of their players to get away from Anfield and find form.

Henderson, Liverpool's captain, took his opportunity on Sunday, breaking the deadlock against Senegal in the 38th minute at the Al Bayt Stadium.

Reds legend Jamie Carragher tweeted: 'Brilliant Jordan Henderson! So often questioned, but always answers in the right way.'

Henderson became the first Liverpool player to score at the 2022 World Cup with his opener

As Opta highlighted, 32-year-old Henderson became England's second-oldest ever World Cup goalscorer after his goal.

However, he has some way to go to catch up to the record holder, Tom Finney, who was 36 when he scored a penalty to equalise five minutes from time against the USSR in 1958.

Henderson was withdrawn to a standing ovation in the 81st minute. He was replaced by Manchester City's Kalvin Phillips with the score at 3-0, and no further goals were scored in the last-16 match.

England were up against it in the early stages of their match against the Africa Cup of Nations champion. It was a nervy start, which was settled by Henderson's goal.

It was Bellingham's (right) pass that set up Henderson for the first goal after 38 minutes

Bellingham's ball across was perfect for Henderson to shoot below Senegal goalkeeper Edouard Mendy and into the net.

Further goals from Harry Kane and Bukayo Saka sealed England's place in the quarter-finals against France, who defeated Poland 3-1 in the earlier game.

England's clash with France is the last of the quarter-finals to be played, when Henderson and Co return to the Al Bayt Stadium on Saturday evening to take on Kylian Mbappe's side.

Liverpool have had a rocky start to their domestic season, and currently sit in sixth place

Liverpool currently sit in sixth place in the Premier League, 15 points behind leaders Arsenal.

It is a far cry from Reds' performances in recent seasons, which have seen them fighting for the top spot.

Klopp's side return to competitive fixtures with the League Cup game against Phillips' City on December 22, ahead of their league clash with Aston Villa on Boxing Day.

Alisson and Jordan Henderson engaging in furious spat sums up Liverpool's problems

biggest names appear to be showing signs of frustration after club captain opted to make his fury at goalkeeper crystal clear in full view of everyone.The moment came mid-way through the second-half of the Reds' trip to Stamford Bridge to take on a struggling side. Henderson was seemingly fuming with his team-mate for failing to communicate with fellow star Fabinho and nearly costing men dearly.The Reds' skipper has never been one to shy away from letting his colleagues know exactly what he thinks and it was the same again ...

biggest names appear to be showing signs of frustration after club captain opted to make his fury at goalkeeper crystal clear in full view of everyone.

The moment came mid-way through the second-half of the Reds' trip to Stamford Bridge to take on a struggling side. Henderson was seemingly fuming with his team-mate for failing to communicate with fellow star Fabinho and nearly costing men dearly.

The Reds' skipper has never been one to shy away from letting his colleagues know exactly what he thinks and it was the same again on Tuesday as he screamed in the face of an equally annoyed Alisson.

While covering the incident live on talkSPORT, England legend Stuart Pearce claimed: “It stems from Saturday, you can see the frustration there."

However, the two were willing to forgive and forget by the time full-time rolled around, as both Henderson and Alisson left the Stamford Bridge pitch arm in arm chatting to each other.

It was a notably underwhelming display from Henderson and co. Liverpool can consider themselves fortunate to come away with a point, as Chelsea were guilty of spurning a number of glorious opportunities throughout.

Klopp rung out the changes before kick-off, making six alterations to the line-up that started Saturday's 4-1 hammering at the hands of Manchester City at the Etihad.

HAVE YOUR SAY!Will Klopp be concerned by Henderson and Alisson's argument? Comment below

Reds icon Jamie Carragher seemed to think that represented a wider issue currently plauging his old side.

Speaking ahead of kick-off, the ex-Liverpool ace told Sky Sports: "No it’s more than you do expect and what Jurgen Klopp’s done since he came in is there’s certain players who just play every game, you know, and those players, some of them aren’t playing tonight.

"You look at the back four, Virgil van Dijk, that’s down to illness we’re told but Trent Alexander-Arnold you’re always expecting to be on that team sheet. Mo Salah being another one, Andy Robertson being another one.

"He hasn't just changed the team, he’s changed mainstays really who are there week-in week-out - not just this season but for years gone by."

Henderson and Alisson were two of the mainstays to remain in the team, though it is unclear how Klopp felt about the pair of them barking orders in each other's faces.

Up next for the Reds is the small matter of a meeting with the league leaders as Liverpool welcome high-flying Arsenal to Anfield on Sunday.

Klopp will surely be hoping his players steer clear of any more on-pitch meltdowns when Mikel Arteta's men roll into town gunning for a first league win in the Red half of Merseyside for the first time in 11 years.

Kyle Walker and Jordan Henderson are both set to start for England against Wales on Tuesday night, with Phil Foden in contention too as Gareth Southgate tells Jude Bellingham and Co they've been rotated and not dropped

Gareth Southgate is considering tinkering with his World Cup starting XI with Jordan Henderson poised for a recall and Kyle Walker in line for his first start of the tournament against Wales.Having selected an unchanged t...

Gareth Southgate is considering tinkering with his World Cup starting XI with Jordan Henderson poised for a recall and Kyle Walker in line for his first start of the tournament against Wales.

Having selected an unchanged team and system against USA following the 6-2 win over Iran, national team boss Southgate is ready to make his first set of changes of the tournament for the clash against Rob Page's side.

Speaking on Monday night, the England boss said: 'We have to balance freshness with stability and that's always a decision you're making when picking a team.'

Kyle Walker and Jordan Henderson are set to start for the first time in this year's World Cup


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Vice captain Henderson could come into the team ahead of Jude Bellingham, who has started the opening two matches here in Qatar.

Behind the scenes, Southgate has made clear to his players that any omissions from the starting XI should be viewed as rotation rather than anything more concrete.

The England staff have told their players that they intend to use the depths of the squad to combat the quick turnaround in matches and the stifling conditions here in Qatar.

Southgate does not want Jude Bellingham and Co to be downhearted if they don't start

Southgate does not want his players to be downhearted if they are not named in the starting XI or lose their place and has made this point to his players.

The big question for the England manager is whether to hand Phil Foden his first start of the tournament amid a growing clamour for the Manchester City star to be unleashed.

While captain Harry Kane is expected to start, Southgate is considering refreshing his forward line with Raheem Sterling, Bukayo Saka and Mason Mount's places under scrutiny.

It remains to be seen whether Phil Foden will receive his first start in Qatar on Tuesday night

There is also significant hope that Walker can start in the game.

The right back and his Manchester City colleague Kalvin Phillips - who would in usual circumstances be key players during the tournament - are yet to play a single minute after recovering from surgeries.

Walker's return to fitness is particularly crucial with Southgate, having started the World Cup with a 4-3-3, ready to switch to a back-five during the tournament.

How two Texas drinking buddies wound up with one crackling cartel thriller

By Smith Henderson and John Marc Smith Ecco: 352 pages, $28If you buy books linked on our site, The Times may earn a commission from, whose fees support independent bookstores.The art of collaboration is not generally taught to aspiring novelists. Short of reading “True...

By Smith Henderson and John Marc Smith Ecco: 352 pages, $28

If you buy books linked on our site, The Times may earn a commission from, whose fees support independent bookstores.

The art of collaboration is not generally taught to aspiring novelists. Short of reading “True West” and determining that strangling your writing partner is not a Best Creative Practice, most of us learn that writing is an art filled with dark nights to be suffered through alone. Which is one of the things that “Make Them Cry” — a kinetic new thriller by Smith Henderson and newcomer Jon Marc Smith — such a notable project.

The bestseller list usually holds a few titles by authors, both living and dead, who’ve collaborated with another writer, though a great many are less like partnerships and more like franchises. Think of James Patterson and his small factory of co-writers. But “Make Them Cry” is distinctive for actually being … co-written. Less like Patterson et al., more like Greer Hendricks & Sarah Pekkanen.

Equally noteworthy: It marks Henderson’s first publication since 2014, when his debut, “Fourth of July Creek,” was a literary sensation. Released that summer, the novel went on to earn countless best-of-the-year plaudits — praise that was well-earned. “Creek” follows a social worker, a conspiracy theorist, militias, runaways and an alphabet soup of government agencies in a sprawling Reagan-era tale of violent societal disaffection that presaged much of what our life looks like now, when the fringe is in power and conspiracy is the language of policy.

And so Henderson’s follow-up was a long time coming, but still a surprising turn. After working as a staff writer on AMC‘s western sagaThe Son,” based on the book by his pal and fellow University of Texas alum Philipp Meyer, he dove even further into genre and collaboration, writing a bullet-train thriller in partnership with his old friend Jon Marc Smith, a screenwriter and English lecturer at Texas State.

It makes perfect sense to Henderson. “There’s a thing maybe you think you’re supposed to do, or a career you’re supposed to have,” he says. “The only thing that I’ve heard that seems to be honorable is to write what you’re scared to write. Or the thing that’s the hardest. Because that’s probably the thing you’re most interested in exploring.”

“Make Them Cry” focuses on DEA agent Diane Harbaugh — so good at her job, she makes even hit men cry — as she immerses herself in a vast conspiracy that will take her from Los Angeles to Mexico to interrogate a cartel heavyweight with a valuable secret. There’s a Zeta assassin right behind her, corrupt CIA agents closing in around her and the existential ramifications of an unwinnable drug war looming everywhere. There is also of one of the best car chases you’ll ever read. The journey of making it was equally fun and torturous, beginning with a screenplay that just wouldn’t sell.

The duo became friends in 2000 when Jon Marc Smith was an MFA candidate at Texas State, but it wasn’t until 2007, when Henderson was working on his own MFA at the University of Texas, that the two began collaborating, adapting Smith’s as-yet-unpublished novel into the film “Dance With the One” for UT’s Film Institute. The early script version of “Cry” emerged from that process, but their friendship evolved the old-fashioned way: in bars, over beers.

“The first night we hung out together,” Henderson says, “we disagreed and argued about politics and sports.” By the end of the night, they were fast friends, with Smith having convinced Henderson to reconsider subjects ranging from the Clinton presidency to the arc of narrative.

“We argue all the time,” says Smith. “It might sound like we’re angry, but we’ve been working together for 13 years and we learned early on to keep talking. Whenever we disagree with each other, we keep talking.”

Even over Zoom — Henderson reporting in from a sun-dappled Montana living room with a Peloton in the background, Smith from a Texas den stuffed with bookshelves — it’s easy to see how the constant conversation kept them sane in the early days of this decade-long passion project. They’re quick to finish each other’s sentences and stories, particularly those tales of Hollywood that seem like satire but aren’t.

Henderson: “We’d get notes like, ‘Could this be more like ‘Inception’…’”

Smith: “… because ‘Inception’ was the No. 1 movie that week…”

Henderson and Smith: [unintelligible moaning…]

After enough absurd meetings, both realized something important. “We didn’t know what we were doing writing movies at that point. We didn’t know anything,” Smith says. But they did feel they knew how to write prose. “Though neither one of us had published a book,” Smith says — the release of “Creek” was still a few months out — “we just felt way more secure in our knowledge.”

And so they got to work, sharing a Google Document back and forth. For years.


Aug. 21, 2020

Three years in, Henderson says, “We’d written a chunk of it, wrote a proposal, sent it off and were queued up to sell it, and I just had this feeling that something was not OK.” Premonitions of humiliating failure are not uncommon among writers. But Henderson’s niggling wouldn’t go away, until he determined the problem: They’d started the book too late in the story line. Was it a fatal mistake? Maybe not — “They’ll let you publish a bad book,” Henderson says plainly — but it wasn’t one he could abide. As the beginning of a possible series, the book had to start in the right place. Finally, he bit the bullet and called his friend.

“It was difficult,” says Smith. “I don’t know if I agreed right off the bat. He convinced me.” They decide they had prematurely written a sequel; the hero, Diane Harbaugh, was something closer to an antagonist in their draft. They’d need to start from page one, again. “And I knew it was right,” Smith says. Even talking about it now, years in the distance, both writers seem pained by the experience.

Fortunately, they shared a vision of how to move forward. They divided the research —everything from the cross-border drug trade to the impact of opium harvesting in Afghanistan — as well as the pleasure reading (John le Carré, Elmore Leonard, Graham Greene). But for the writing, they did what they’d always done. They finished each other’s thoughts. “It’s never a matter of: One person is plotting it and one person is writing sentences, one person is writing exposition and one person is writing dialog,” says Smith. “When it’s really working well, you don’t even know what you’ve done.”

Henderson puts it more fatalistically: “One of us would change a sentence and then the other person would change it back, and it would go on like that for a month. And then someone eventually would quit.”

The result is a novel reminiscent of Robert Stone’s “Dog Soldiers”: its skin is pure entertainment, but its bones are political. What starts as a violent thriller flips over and becomes an examination of the aftermath of armed conflict, in which sorting the good guys from the bad is less about uniforms and codes and more about personal morality.


April 15, 2019

“This is the only war in the world where both sides want the war to continue,” Henderson says. If that sounds like a lot of weight for a thriller to carry around, this writing team is up to the task, and might be for several more books to come.

Goldberg’s next book, “The Low Desert,” will be out in February.


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