Wood Industry Market Leader: Jimmy Thornberry, Powell Valley Millwork
October 23, 2019 | 3:15 pm CDT
An inspirational business leader and president of Powell Valley Millwork, Jimmy Thornberry represents the second of a three-generation family business that incorporates innovative management and production processes in the manufacture of poplar moulding and millwork.

Prior to entering the woodworking industry, Thornberry and his father, Jim, owned and operated surface mines throughout eastern Kentucky. “We decided to leave the industry in the early 1990s to find a new business that was renewable and generated a tangible product while utilizing equipment and people. We began working in the secondary wood manufacturing sector in 1992 and have enjoyed success for nearly 30 years,” he said. 

“Our success is predicated upon the high caliber people we have been fortunate to work alongside: employees, vendors and customers having the same values, goals, and work ethic,” he added.

One of the statements used internally and externally at the Clay City, Kentucky-based Powell Valley is “Find a way to yes,”  Thornberry said. “We strive to satisfy the needs of our employees in their daily work. We also want to live up to our customers’ expectations and help them with their obligations.  If we find a way to yes, we have done all we can.”

Another well-known mantra is SQYPH: Safety, Quality, Yield, Production, and Housekeeping. “If we take care of those objectives, we will be successful for generations to come,” he said.

An environmentally sustainable, zero-wood waste facility, “Powell Valley has experienced significant growth in the last five years increasing capacity, acquiring market share, and developing new product lines. I want to continue that trajectory with our team and reinvest in our land, building, equipment, and personnel.”

Thornberry also works to promote the industry as a whole. He has served on the board for the Kentucky Forest Industries Association, and continues to remain active. “Our entire industry should promote the goods and services we provide while being good stewards of our natural resources.”

Thornberry and the company are also active in the community and contribute to many organizations, including Spark Ministries, which serves as a “catalyst to bring people back to life and give them purpose.” Outside of work, he enjoys spending time with his wife, children and grandchildren. “I also enjoy exercise, golf, travel, bird hunting and raising beef cattle on our farm in Lexington, Kentucky.”

Quick Glimpse:

  • Education: Bachelor’s degree in Management and Finance from the University of Kentucky
  • Number of years at the company: 27
  • Number of years in the industry: 27
  • Words that best describe you: Patient, thorough, analytical, and dedicated
  • Business mantra: We have several including SQYPH: Safety, Quality, Yield, Production, and Housekeeping.
  • Best advice: Tell me and I forget, teach me and I may remember, involve me and I learn.
  • Who have you tried to emulate: I look to my father’s business acumen and accounting background as a model for Powell Valley or any business we operate.  I think of my late friend Bo Smith as a thought leader in the industry.

About the Wood Industry Market Leaders: This marks the 11th year Woodworking Network has paid tribute to outstanding men and women that have made an impact, not only at their companies, but within the various wood products industries. Since 2009, more than 70 industry professionals have shared their influencers, insights and strategies.  Read more about the 2019 and past honorees at WoodworkingNetwork.com/Market-Leaders.

Have something to say? Share your thoughts with us in the comments below.

Profile picture for user karenkoenig
About the author
Karen Koenig | Editor

Karen M. Koenig has more than 30 years of experience in the woodworking industry, including visits to wood products manufacturing facilities throughout North America, Europe and Asia. As editor of special publications under the Woodworking Network brand, including the Red Book Best Practices resource guide and website, Karen’s responsibilities include writing, editing and coordinating of editorial content. She is also a contributor to FDMC and other Woodworking Network online and print media owned by CCI Media. She can be reached at [email protected]