Our History

Lee F Powell

Lee F. Powell 2nd Generation Owner

Old Hickory Clay Company shipped her first rail car of high quality Kentucky ball clay from the Hickory, KY area in 1918. The company was founded by Ralph N. Scott; a Paducah, KY resident who was the manager of West Kentucky Coal Company. After successors Lee F. Powell, and Joe A. Powell followed him in running the family business for many years, it is currently in the 97th year of continuous operation under the ownership of 4th generation President; J. Lee Powell.

Through the years Old Hickory has enjoyed expansion stages through growth and acquisition opportunities that have included mining and processing plants in Gleason, TN and McIntyre, GA in addition to a modern HQ and plant site in Hickory, KY. Most recently a sister company, Gleason Clay Company, LLC was added via acquisition in 2014 which further enhances reserves of TN ball clays, and adds additional mines, and a large processing plant with extensive storage to the family of businesses.

Old Hickory Clay Company and Gleason Clay Company are actively involved in the mining and processing of Ball Clay and Kaolin clays for industrial minerals applications which include ceramic tile, sanitary ware, dinnerware, asphalt emulsion, electrical porcelain, refractories, proppants, synthetic rubber, and various other building materials, fillers, and adhesives products.

Old Hickory - Oldl ShedThe companies own, lease and operate over 20 mines in Kentucky, Mississippi, Tennessee, and Georgia from which the crude clays are mined. There are some 80 employees working in all aspects of the operations of clay mining including drilling, overburden removal, mining, trucking, processing, and shipping the finished product. Clay is shipped via rail, truck, intermodal, and barge both domestically and internationally. The finished products include shredded, semi-dried, air-floated (powder), slurry and moist clay, super sack (IBC), and 50# bag forms.

Old Hickory and Gleason Clay share an experienced management team including J. Lee Powell -President / CEO, Cheryl Lehmkuhl – COO, Bill Hinson – CFO, and Bill Rogers – VP of Sales, and Ken Bougher -Technical Director. The companies are grounded in a culture that emphasizes customer service, quality, and highly reliable consistency and timeliness of shipments to a diverse market base.

Sales for the combined operations are expected to approach $20 million in 2015, as the companies continue their pattern of unprecedented growth and expansion in the immediate future, while maintaining a long-term view of the business that comes from the family owned perspective.

Technical and Quality Control laboratories are maintained in Hickory, KY, Gleason, TN and McIntyre, GA to fully support the exploration, mining, and processing, and R & D functions of the companies. Emphasis is placed on customized product engineering, state-of-the-art quality assurance, efficient logistical timing, and competitive pricing on the premium grade clay product offerings.