Laurel Machine & Foundry grows by diversifying
Laurel Machine & Foundry Co. began operation in 1904 as a metal parts manufacturer and supplier for the Lindsey eight-wheel wagon factory. Today its biggest customer in Mississippi is the maker of enormous fork trucks.
LMF, which will observe its 110th anniversary next year, has grown and prospered through the leadership of four generations of the Mulloy family.
In 1911, J.W. Mulloy and his brother Richard “Dick” Mulloy bought Laurel Machine & Foundry. The company had eight employees in two wooden buildings. In 1924, LMF began a long running working relationship with another local businessman, the inventor of Masonite board.
Gene Mulloy, the third generation to run the company and now its CEO, said, “We built all of his original equipment for him. Mr. Mason was our largest customer for most of my time here.”
Mulloy remembered his introduction to the family business. “I rode my bicycle (to work) and did inventory when I was a kid,” he said. “I’ll be here 50 years next year.”
Mulloy said the changes since his grandfather, J.W. Mulloy, bought the business are hard to comprehend. “They didn’t have a cutting torch or an electric wire welding machine. Everything was riveted and built in the shop. I don’t see how they ever built anything in those days.” If something broke when it got to the field, he said. “All you had was a hammer. I can’t imagine.”
Over the years, LMF has continuously diversified its products and services while expanding its facilities. In 1989 the foundry division relocated to a new 50,000-square-foot facility at Hawkes Industrial Park and 10 years later the CNC Machining Division moved to a new 30,000-square-foot facility in the industrial park. It houses the largest horizontal machining center in the state of Mississippi.
LMF now has approximately 150 employees who work in five departments. Mulloy said, “We just kind of grow here and grow there.”
He said, “We’ve got a foundry division where we actually melt steel and iron for castings. And we have two machine shops: The custom machine shop for repair work and a CNC (computer numerically controlled) shop which does higher production volume.”
Employees at LMF do structural, sheet and plate fabrication, manufacture and repair custom machinery and parts and also do casting work. There is a full-line metal service center that offers more than 10,000 industrial and oil field mill supply items. That department never closes to ensure customers can get the products they need when they need them.
LMF operates a fleet of trucks to pick up and deliver for customers within a 300-mile radius of the Laurel plant. Shipping to overseas markets is done through Gulfport, New Orleans and Mobile.
Among LMF’s customers are Howard Industries, Nissan, Hood Industries and Georgia Pacific.
“Our largest customer right now in Mississippi is Taylor Machine Works in Louisville,” said Mulloy. Taylor is a leading manufacturer of industrial forklift and material handling equipment. Mulloy said LMF makes the castings and fabricated steel products for the huge forklift trucks.
Gene Mulloy became CEO in 2005 when his son Trent Mulloy became president of LMF. Both men are active in local and state associations and as well as other business activities.
Larkin Simpson, director of the Jones County Chamber of Commerce in Laurel, called LMF a great company to work with. “They’re always looking to do new innovative things,” he said.
Simpson described LMF as “a great Mississippi company and a strong partner in our community, always willing to give back. And they are not just selling Laurel; they are selling Mississippi and the Southeast.”
Simpson said that LMF had an unknowing hand in helping to land a GE Aviation facility in Ellisville recently.
A GE Aviation official was in town to take a look around and ended up going to LMF’s annual crawfish boil that features the famous anvil shoot and draws 2,000 to 3,000 people from the community. No one was told why the guest was in town. “He met a variety of people from the community,” said Simpson. “After we landed the project and GE made the announcement, he said one of the things that really sold him on the community was the night he went to the crawfish boil. Without knowing it, that kind of clinched a big win for us.”
Looking at the future of LMF, Mulloy said, “We’ll be here. One of the good things about having five different smaller businesses is that most of the time if one or two of them are down, the other two or three are up. It helps to have the diversity we have. We work for so many different people, it’s been a blessing to be so diversified.”
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