Owen Lilly, older brother of T.F. Lilly, incorporates the Lilly Carriage Company in Memphis TN, November 20, 1882. The Carriage Company specialized in horse drawn carriages, harnesses and also manufactured some early automobiles.
Thomas F. Lilly founds The Lilly Brokerage Firm, which later becomes The Lilly Company in Memphis TN. The primary focus was taking large bulk quantities (55 gal. drum and larger) of products, such as petroleum jelly and linseed oil, and breaking them down and repackaging them into smaller, more consumer sized packages. As a result, the painting industry was a major focus.
Thomas Lilly built a machine that crushed 300 lb. blocks of ice & carried the chips along a conveyor for diverting and sorting into bags by size. This became a very profitable venture: In 1925, ice was the only method for keeping food cold. The business thrived in this form until World War II and the invention of refrigeration.
The end of World War II signifies a shift in the marketplace as on-site refrigeration becomes more common.
Lilly salvaged from his ice crusher the one aspect that had a future in 1945: the conveyor system. He recognized that material handling offered great opportunity for industrial growth and he wanted to be a part of it.
Thomas Lilly passes away, Thomas J. Clark Jr. leads the company towards continued growth.
Thomas J. Clark, Jr. Named as President of The Lilly Company.
Became a dealer for Yale & Towne lift trucks. First forklift delivered to Pidgeon-Thomas Iron Company in Memphis.
Outgrew Union Ave. location and moved facilities to Fleetbrook.
By 1982, Tom was ready to turn over the business to the next generation, and his son Thomas J. Clark, III (Ret. U.S. Army, Major) became president after serving 20 years in the military as a commander and pilot of helicopters and fixed wing aircraft.