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About Us

Since 1919, The Lilly Company has helped businesses across the Mid-South run safe, profitable and competitive operations.

The Lilly Company, Memphis, TN

The Lilly Company History


Our Founder

Thomas F. Lilly had a vision to service his customers with the most innovative and useful products in the marketplace. Starting out in the painting industry, his vision shifted to the ice industry in the late 1920’s. He became somewhat of a pioneer by creating and patenting multiple devices that would simplify the process of sizing and bagging ice.

Lilly's Founder, Thomas F. Lilly
 

As refrigeration became more common by the end of WWII, it was once again time to adapt. By the late 40’s and early 50’s, the Lilly Company had evolved into a player in the material handling industry.  The year 1952 marked the entry as a dealer for a major line of forklifts, as well as providing the parts and service for those products.  Now, after nearly one hundred years of servicing the Mid-South and its neighbors, The Lilly Company is poised to continue its growth into an ever-changing market place.

Our Timeline

1882

November 20, 1882

The Lilly Carriage Company Is Incorporated In Memphis

The Lilly Company 1882Owen 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.

1919

T. F. Lilly Founds The Lilly Brokerage Firm In Memphis, TN

Thomas F. Lilly founds The Lilly Brokerage Firm,The Lilly Company 1919 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.

1919

1929

Thomas Lilly Develops Ice Processing Machine
The Lilly Company 1929

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.

1945

End Of World War II
The Lilly Company 1945

The end of World War II signifies a shift in the marketplace as on-site refrigeration becomes more common. 

1945

1945

From Ice To Material Handling
The Lilly Company 1945

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.

1948

Thomas Lilly Passes Away
The Lilly Company 1948

Thomas Lilly passes away, Thomas J. Clark Jr. leads the company towards continued growth.

1948

1948

Thomas J. Clark, Jr. Named As President
The Lilly Company 1948

Thomas J. Clark, Jr. Named as President of The Lilly Company.

1952

The Lilly Company Becomes A Dealer For Yale & Towne
The Lilly Company 1952

Became a dealer for Yale & Towne lift trucks. First forklift delivered to Pidgeon-Thomas Iron Company in Memphis.

1952

1969

New Location
The Lilly Company 1969

The Lilly Company outgrew the Union Ave. location and moved facilities to Fleetbrook.

1982

Thomas J. Clark, III Named President Of The Lilly Company
The Lilly Company 1982

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.

1982

1995

Moved Memphis Operations center
The Lilly Company 1995

Moved Memphis operations center to current location on Knight Arnold Road.

2003

Became Exclusive Dealer For Toyota Industrial Equipment For Memphis
The Lilly Company 2003

Became the exclusive dealer for Toyota Industrial Equipment for the Memphis and Mid-South Region.

2003

2004

The President’s Award
The Lilly Company 2004

First awarded The Presidents Award from Toyota Material Handling.  This is the highest award a dealer can achieve.

2005

Clark Brand Expansion
The Lilly Company 2005

Expanded with a new brand line by adding  Clark into the East Tennessee region.

2005

2006

Increased Clark Footprint
The Lilly Company 2006

Increased Clark footprint by acquiring and adding Birmingham and Madison Alabama locations.

2015

Expansion Into Alabama
The Lilly Company 2015

Acquired Alabama territory for Toyota Industrial Equipment.  Four Toyota locations added in Alabama: Irondale, Dothan, Mobile and Montgomery.

2015

2016

Preparing For 100 Year Anniversary
The Lilly Company 2016

As The Lilly Company approaches its 100 year anniversary, the leadership team is poised to continue growing our footprint, our presence in the market, and our people.

2019

CELEBRATING 100 YEARS
The Lilly Company 2019

The Lilly Company turns 100 in 2019. We celebrate 100 years and continue to treat our customers the way we would want to be treated. 

2019

Today

100 Years of Expertise and Integrity

You have a trusted partner in the material handling business.

Working at a government run site it is important to obtain high-quality equipment to be a good steward of taxpayer money. The Lilly Company is my go-to solution for forklift, material handling equipment, and services. There is a personalized touch, working with them. I highly recommend buying from The Lilly Company!
Private Government Agency
Our warehouse was in desperate need of help! We did not have a huge space to work with, and what little space we did have was cluttered and disorganized. The Lilly Company was able to offer a solution that fit within our budget and helped us to create a significantly more functional workspace.
Tommy H.
Apologetics Press GM
 

Our Values

We make doing business with us as simple as possible.

We treat you the way we want to be treated. We show up when you need us, treat you and your team with respect, get the job done, and follow up.

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100 Years of Expertise

Since 1919, we’ve been helping businesses grow and maintain their operation without making costly mistakes along the way.

We wouldn’t have made it over 100 years without genuine expertise and integrity. At The Lilly Company, we’re real people who treat you like a real person.

LEAN ON THE MOST TRUSTED NAME IN MATERIAL HANDLING

At The Lilly Company, we believe setting you up for a successful operation means more than selling you equipment. You need the right equipment and the right service so your staff can do their job best, and your customers can get their goods fast.

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WE ARE HERE FOR YOU

You deserve an equipment and service partner you can depend on
 

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