Our History

Humble Beginnings


rom his early childhood, E.J. Hurdle Jr. displayed a gift for designing and building things. During his childhood, his mother would hear him in his room scratching out designs on whatever paper was available in the middle of the night. Always tinkering, designing, and building, one early project was a primitive car that he drove back and forth to the surrounding towns. Another project was a telephone system with wires strung through the surrounding trees at his childhood home. He didn't know it then, but the idea for a sawmill would come in time and change his life. Most of the building blocks - mechanical aptitude, hard work ethic, perfectionism, and a passion for simple machinery - were already in place.

After serving in the U.S. Navy for 2 years as a ship machinist, Mr. Hurdle worked for 3 years and advanced to journeyman machinist at Memphis Machine Works in Memphis, TN and then went to work at Troxel Manufacturing in Moscow, TN as a Tool and Die Maker for 3 years. In 1964, Mr. Hurdle went into business for himself by starting Holly Tool and Die in Holly Springs, Mississippi. However, business was slow.

A man known as Junior Goulsby had bought a tract of timber near Holly Springs and became a regular customer needing parts for his sawmill. After some convincing, E.J. agreed to visit the mill. After watching the mill with fascination and listening to encouragement from Mr. Goulsby, E.J. decided to build a portable sawmill. This was during the late 1960's when many "groundhog mills" were assembled in the woods and run with diesel power units. The assembly and setup was not fast. The Hurdle mill was designed to be a complete sawmill that could be pulled to the woods and be ready to go in less than a day. It would run with the standard diesel power unit with 12V battery and would soon replace many of those "groundhog" mills.

Mr Hurdle went back to his shop and began designing and building his first complete portable sawmill from scratch. Long time friend and sawmiller, Erby Skelton bought the first Hurdle mill. After seeing the successful operation of this sawmill, Mr. Hurdle decided to move back to Moscow, Tennessee and begin manufacturing sawmills exclusively.

E.J. and his backyard built car
E.J. in Navy machine shop aboard U.S.S Saint Paul
The first portable mill built from scratch by E.J. Hurdle Jr., at Holly Tool and Die, Holly Springs, Mississippi
The first portable mill built from scratch by E.J. Hurdle Jr., at Holly Tool and Die, Holly Springs, Mississippi
The first portable mill built from scratch by E.J. Hurdle Jr., at Holly Tool and Die, Holly Springs, Mississippi

Early Growth


urdle Machine Works Inc was established in 1969 by E.J. Hurdle Jr., after moving from Holly Springs, Mississippi to Moscow, Tennessee. With the third sawmill, Mr. Hurdle completely reworked a Corinth carriage and Berry feed for use on the mill. This practice continued until 1976 when Hurdle Machine Works started building its own carriage feed, and purchasing new Corinth carriages. In 1980, Hurdle Machine Works introduced its own carriage, the Hurdle Hydra-Air Carriage, and a modular sawmill package.

Always innovating, Mr. Hurdle continued to improve his carriage going on to develop the Junior Carriage, the Challenger Carriage (1985), the Challenger II Heavy Duty Linear Carriage (1997), and the Challenger LP Linear Carriage (2001). He also designed and patented both the Hurdle Vertical Edger (1990) and the Hurdle Grade Band Resaw System(2001). The Hurdle Band Headrig (2003) soon followed.

In 2006, Hurdle Machine Works, Inc. introduced the Magnum LP Super Duty Linear Carriage. The Magnum LS setshaft carriage soon followed(2008). In 2013, the Magnum LT setshaft carriage was developed to fit on the Standard Hurdle Automatic Sawmill.

E.J.'s two sons actively participate in the business. In 1998, Jeff Hurdle joined the business concentrating on advertising and the development of computerized scanning and controls. John Hurdle joined the company in 2002 specializing in CNC machine programming and shop management.

Second Hurdle Machine Works mill in dirt parking lot - This was the first mill built in the new Moscow location.
Early Hurdle sawmill (Bette A Hurdle in sawyer's seat)

The Hurdle Junior Carriage.
The first Hurdle brochure. "Designed for Simplicity and Dependability ..."
Early Hurdle Machine Works mill in gravel parking lot.
Jeff and John Hurdle - 1986

The Future


n todays rapidly changing markets, a Hurdle Mill just makes sense. It can be put into operation in days, not weeks, requires minimal operating resources, has a proven track record, and is an affordable addition to many operations regardless of size. Mill owners are seeing that money can be made with an efficient Hurdle Sawmill set up stationary in their operation. After the 2009 slump, many operations, big and small, turned to Hurdle to improve their performance. Over the years, the mill has continued to improve, but the basic foundations of simplicity, easy setup, affordability, and long lasting performance have made our success.

Hurdle Machine Works, Inc. is committed to improving and expanding its product line into the future. Continuous improvement is a way of life for us, and that process keeps us improving our product no matter where changing wood products markets might take us. We are engineers and designers. Designing and manufacturing great sawmills is our passion. This desire drives us forward into the future ...

Hurdle Machine Works, Moscow TN
John, E.J., and Jeff Hurdle - 2014