Powell Valley Millwork recognized by U.S. Senate
Powell Valley Millwork recognized by U.S. Senate

Located in the heart of the Appalachian Forest, Powell Valley Millwork is a large-volume manufacturer of Poplar products.

CLAY CITY, Ky.– Powell Valley Millwork of Clay City was recognized as the Senate Small Business of the Week by the Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship. Kentucky Republican U.S. Sen. Rand Paul is the ranking Republican on the committee.

Sen. Paul entered the following into the Congressional Record:

Custom window treatments from Powell Millworks
Custom window treatments from Powell Millworks.

Mr. PAUL. Mr. President, as Ranking Member of the Senate Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship, each week I recognize an outstanding Kentucky small business that exemplifies the American entrepreneurial spirit. This week, it is my privilege to recognize Powell Valley Millwork of Clay City, Kentucky, as the Senate Small Business of the Week.
Twenty nine years ago, Jim Thornberry and his son Jimmy left the mining industry behind in search of a new venture. Shortly thereafter, Powell Valley Millwork was founded. The Thornberrys started their business with the desire to harvest a tangible product within a sustainable industry, and that mission has stayed at the heart of their business throughout decades of growth and success.
The talent and substance of Powell Valley Millwork draws directly from our state, with the company focusing on only one species of lumber: poplar. As the state tree of Kentucky, poplar is an abundant resource within Appalachia, which makes their location a prime spot for the operation. Often referred to as “the painter’s wood” poplar is known for its clear grain, smooth milling, and paint-taking qualities. The versatile and fine nature of the wood allows Powell Valley to supply consumers across North America with a wide variety of interior trim products such as primed finger-joint mouldings, door and window jambs, stair parts, stretcher bars, cabinetry components, and more. In creating all these products, Powell Valley makes sure nothing goes to waste. Poplar can be safely used as animal bedding which means the offcuts, those that are not already being used to fuel the company’s wood drying kilns, are turned into shavings. This material is bagged and shipped out by the truck load to be sold in a wide variety of retail outlets including the equine and poultry sector.
This Powell County manufacturer maintains their technology at a topnotch standard. In 2019, the owners invested in a new addition to the team: a sophisticated scanning rough mill line from Eagle Machinery & Supply Inc. The new rough mill line is able to process 65,000 board feet of lumber in a single 8-hour shift with only six people required to operate it. The joint project between Powell and Eagle, both family companies, demonstrates that U.S. machinery manufacturers can successfully compete with Europeans in providing world-class technology to the North American wood processing industry.
The Thornberrys keep their eye on efficiency and progress, opening up ownership of the company to experts outside the family, including Dale Budke, Powell Valley’s Operations Manager. As a partner in the company, Dale provides the experience and expertise necessary for navigating the growing Kentucky lumber industry. In 2019, Powell Valley Millwork acquired a manufacturing facility in nearby Jeffersonville, Kentucky. With a new 125,000 square foot location only twelve miles from their Clay City mill, the two sites utilize their natural synergies to support the needs of a diverse customer base across North America in full truck and railroad quantities.  The proximity of the facilities coupled with increased volume production allowed Powell Valley to respond quickly as the global supply chain for building materials began to waiver in 2020.  Domestic millwork production continues to thrive with more end-users focused on steady supply and reliable customer service.
Powell Valley Millwork is a testament to the ingenuity and resourcefulness of Kentuckians. Drawing from our beautiful natural resources and employing over 200 local men and women, this business illustrates some of the best qualities Kentucky has to offer –fine craftsmanship and dedicated hard work. Powell Valley Millwork is a decades-old dream the Thornberrys had when they left the mining industry, a dream that continues to grow with the third generation, Jimmy’s son Michael Thornberry, playing an active role in the company since 2014.
Small businesses like Powell Valley Millwork are the core of small towns across Kentucky, and like the lumber they use, their roots grow deep to help our communities flourish.  Congratulations to the Thornberrys and the entire Powell Valley team. I wish them the best of luck and look forward to watching their continued growth and success in Kentucky.

The Senate Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship oversees proposed legislation on matters relating to the Small Business Administration and investigates all problems relating to America’s small businesses.


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About the author
Larry Adams | Editor

Larry Adams is a Chicago-based writer and editor who writes about how things get done. A former wire service and community newspaper reporter, Larry is an award-winning writer with more than three decades of experience. In addition to writing about woodworking, he has covered science, metrology, metalworking, industrial design, quality control, imaging, Swiss and micromanufacturing . He was previously a Tabbie Award winner for his coverage of nano-based coatings technology for the automotive industry. Larry volunteers for the historic preservation group, the Kalo Foundation/Ianelli Studios, and the science-based group, Chicago Council on Science and Technology (C2ST).