Corley’s product line includes carriages, band mills, carriage feeds, optimization, linebar and horizontal resaw systems, edger and trimmer systems, and conveying equipment for the entire sawmill.
CORLEY MANUFACTURING—Continues to be Innovative in Challenging Times
By Terry Miller
Chattanooga, Tennessee—Since its establishment in 1905, Corley has been meeting the demands of their customers by developing and marketing a wide range of sawmill equipment. They are constantly adapting to new technologies in an effort to make their products more durable, more sophisticated, and also more user-friendly.
The company acquired Lewis Controls in 1983 and Tyrone-Berry in 2003 in an effort to expand their line of sawmill machinery. Today, Corley’s product line includes carriages, band mills, carriage feeds, optimization, linebar and horizontal resaw systems, edger and trimmer systems, and conveying equipment for the entire sawmill. The partnership between these three companies has enabled them to put together the entire package according to Chip Corley, chairman and chief executive officer of Corley Mfg. Tyrone-Berry offers a complete range of shotgun and cable carriage drives and Lewis designs and supplies a variety of headrig, edger, and gang optimization systems including a unique carriage optimizing system which consists of a 360-degree scanning system for logs.
Corley board feeder in operation.
Recently, Tyrone AC regenerative electric drives and thin kerf horizontal resaws have been added to the equipment products offered and according to Corley president Chuck Boaz, “Lewis just released our next generation of 3-D carriage optimization, Ready Scan II. We incorporated the latest 3-D scan heads from Dynavision and a number of hardware changes. Benefits to the customer include improved scan data, and a more rugged and reliable system than what we released in 2001.” “We actually have a faster operating system, although we felt like the previous system was the fastest in the industry. With our newer system, we squeezed a little more speed out of it,” he continued.
“Our new horizontal resaw started out with a customer that is running two of our 6-foot band mills. At the time, he was also running another manufacturer’s thin kerf horizontal resaw, ” Boaz explained. “He approached Jack Corley and I one evening while we were visiting his mill and said he needed a thin kerf horizontal heavy enough to stand up to the production in his sawmill. That night, we started discussing it and developed a horizontal that uses the same air strain as our 6- and 7-foot headrigs, and the same type of cast wheels. We put all of the features and benefits of our headrig band mills into this 48-inch horizontal and the result is, it’s a fantastic running machine. We’ve gotten excellent results out of it.”
A new Corley carriage frame in the machining stage of production.
“We had been a dealer for Tyrone-Berry since the 1950s,” Boaz stated. “In 2003 we were able to purchase that product line. At the time we purchased Tyrone, we knew we wanted an AC electric carriage drive. Between our engineers here at Corley and our engineers at Lewis, we put together a fully regenerative package, the new Tyrone AC Carriage Drive. We put the first one in and ran it for two years before we took it to the marketplace. The product is used in hardwood and softwood applications. Anybody that uses a carriage in their sawmill is going to use this product.”
“We also have a new product that’ll be shipping soon, a carriage cutoff saw,” Corley added. “We developed it for mills that are sawing long timbers such as 24- 36 feet or longer.”
Boaz explained, “For example, in the past, mills would saw a 30-foot timber and have difficulty handling the 30-foot side boards. They had to be handled somewhere downstream, cut into on a roll case, on a deck, etc. We’ve developed a cutoff saw that mounts at the headrig so that the sawyer can cut this longer board in two before it ever gets to the roll case. This makes handling the longer pieces much easier downstream.”
“Our customers can get everything they need by making one phone call. To my knowledge, we are the only one in this industry that is a single source supplier for the entire sawmill. Historically, we have not pushed our product line outside the boundaries of the sawmill building. We focus on the sawmill floor and do a good job there. We don’t want to branch out so far that we become thin in certain areas. We are absolutely devoted to this industry and we have been for all of our 100 plus years,” Corley stated.
Chip Corley shown with a redesigned Tyrone-Berry carriage drive, one of many new and updated products to their equipment line.
Turn-key mill installations and engineered retrofits of equipment to existing mills are performed on a project-by-project basis, with management and engineering expertly handled by Corley’s experienced project engineers.
“We have built over 20 sawmills from the ground up…from the concrete, through the building, the electrical system, the support steel, the construction, and the start-up, along with providing all of the equipment,” said Boaz. “We have very knowledgeable field application engineers and installation supervisors, some of whom have been with our company for over 25 years. We also have a fully-staffed parts department to respond to our customer’s needs quickly, should a mill go down.”
“The global downturn in the sawmill manufacturing and lumber business led to us making a difficult decision to downsize, like many sawmills did throughout the country,” Chip Corley explained. “In order to have the right number of people for the level of business that we had, we had some difficult choices to make. All along the way, we made a concerted effort to keep the right kind of talent on staff so we would be able to maintain our service to our customers. That was the main concern of Chuck Boaz and my son Jack who, by the way, is fourth generation Corley. We have maintained our ability to provide field assistance to our valued customers, service supervision, and provide repair parts when needed in a quick and efficient fashion. So we believe, in spite of what’s happened in the industry, we’ve been able to keep our service levels, both from the standpoint of human support and supplying repair parts, up to the level of what it was beforehand.”
Lumber going through a Corley linebar resaw system.
As a testament to Corley’s customer service and the dedication of our team of employees, Chip said the company suffered a devastating fire in the office building just over three months ago. “The fire started on a Saturday and we were up and running Monday morning at 8:00. Not only were our phone lines destroyed, all the connections to our computers where order processing, inventory records, and all necessary to ship parts, were hit by the fire. All that had to be reconnected, including the phone lines, and again, our people were able to accomplish that, in less than 48 hours,” he explained.
Recent installations by Corley Manufacturing include Begley Lumber, London, Ky.; Parton Lumber Co., Rutherdfordton, N.C.; and J.W. Black Lumber Co., Corning, Ark., among others. “At Begley Lumber we replaced the optimizing edger system completely with a new 4 saw edger as well as a new Lewis optimization and scanning system,” Boaz said. “We’ll be putting a new Corley carriage and Lewis ShapeScan optimization into J.W. Black Lumber Co.,” Corley added. “Along with new ShapeScan optimization at Ward Timber, Linden, Texas. We’re also getting ready to upgrade the edger optimizer. Ward is one of our turnkey sawmills, that’s one that we built from the ground up,” he continued.
Corley Mfg. is a member of the Hardwood Manufacturers Assoc., Appalachian Hardwood Mfg. Inc., National Hardwood Lumber Assoc., Kentucky Forestry Industries Assoc., Indiana Hardwood Lumbermen’s Assoc. and the Southeastern Lumber Manufacturers Assoc.
Corley’s horizontal resaw shown here.
Corley’s grandfather started the company as a small machine and saw repair shop. He began doing work for small sawmills in the Chattanooga area and soon grew his business after purchasing the rights to make circle saws from a company that had burned to the ground. As his business took off, he custom built sawmill equipment and patented a number of set-works and dogging devices.
With years of experience under their belt and peppered with dedication and elbow grease, Corley Mfg., along with Lewis Controls and Tyrone-Berry, will continue to strive to meet the growing demands of loyal customers throughout North America and around the world, according to Corley.
The parts department at Corley is open five days a week from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Phones are answered 24 hours a day, every day. Emergency parts services are available 24 hours a day seven days a week. “If it weren’t for repeat business, we wouldn’t be in business today. It is our responsibility to take care of our customers. Getting the order, manufacturing the equipment, getting it in the mill are all important, but our life’s blood is the after- market service to take care of our customers,” Corley concluded.