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From a family operated corn milling operation in McMinnville, TN to today’s 400,000 square foot facility in LaVergne, TN, the evolution of Powermatic has echoed the success of American business ingenuity throughout the 20th Century and into the new millennium.
In 1921, Leonard F. Smith, Sr. was a seller of timber and rough-cut lumber in the McMinnville community of middle Tennessee. He believed he could make a better product to sell if he first planed the wood himself. Instead of purchasing a planing machine from an existing manufacturer, he decided to build his own in his workshop on the family farm. Upon completion, he used it in his lumber and timber business. Shortly afterward an individual offered to purchase the machine. Mr. Smith used the money to build four more planers, which he offered for sale to others he knew in the lumber industry.
These sold quickly and as word spread of the quality of these machines, demand increased. Mr. Smith decided to leave the lumber industry and engage full time in the manufacturing business. The growth of the company demanded a move to larger facilities. In 1928, Mr. Smith named his company Powermatic, and moved his business into an old blacksmith shop in town. He introduced several new products including sanding machines, drill presses, and the industry’s latest invention, the Tilting Arbor Table Saw.
Through the 1940’s several progressively larger factories were occupied as the demand for Powermatic products grew. In 1954, the company, now run by Mr. Smith’s sons, bought land on the edge of town and built a 38,000 square foot facility specifically tailored to their operations. In 1958, Powermatic took a unique step in the industry by establishing its own 50,000 square foot foundry. This enabled the company to keep tight control on the precision and quality of its castings and to ensure that the Meehanite ™ process, still in use today, would put the company at the forefront of the woodworking machinery manufacturing process for years to come.
In 1966, the Smith brothers sold their business to Houdaille Industries. Although owned by a Fortune 500 Company, Powermatic continued to be influenced by the local community and run in autonomous fashion. In April of 1986, Powermatic was purchased and operated as a division of DeVlieg-Bullard, Inc. In October of 1999 Powermatic was purchased by WMH, who already owned Jet Tools, and Performax Products. These three companies along with the Wilton Tool Company were grouped together to form the WMH Tool Group. In 2014, Powermatic was purchased, along with its sister brands by Tenex Group and are now grouped together to form JPW Industries Inc., as they are still knowns today.
In July 2001, a “NEW” Powermatic emerged and a strategic business decision was made to pursue the general purpose industrial woodworking machinery market much more aggressively. From a family operated corn mill to a world class leader of industrial woodworking machinery, we remain…
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