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Homegrown ingenuity
Bouldin & Lawson soil mixer.jpg
Pictured is one of the soil mixing machines designed and manufactured at Bouldin & Lawson in McMinnville. The company does all of the work and will even provide on-site setup.

Like so many great businesses, Bouldin & Lawson got its start in a garage.

That was in 1959.

The company has grown into a 70,000-square-foot facility that employs 40 people and ships to countries all over the world.

The business got its start when Sonny Bouldin and Avery Lawson, two Powermatic employees, decided to do some side work on their own. That would be the groundwork for what's become a prosperous McMinnville industry.

"We ship out of the country to South Africa, Brazil, Canada and Europe," said Lesa Brock, vice president of manufacturing. Lesa has been with the company for 38 years, getting her start in 1982.

Bouldin & Lawson does all its work in-house. It manufactures equipment that's primarily used in the nursery industry.

Bouldin & Lawson employees do all the design, welding and fabricating work. There is also a great deal of electrical and programming work in getting the machines operational. When complete, the company even has its own paint shop to give the equipment its signature green look.

"It can be a long process," said Brock when asked how long it can take to make one piece of equipment. "It can take six to 12 weeks and that doesn't include the engineering time."

Brock says one thing that's helped Bouldin & Lawson in recent years is the popularity of the hemp industry. People are getting into the hemp industry who have never done farming work before so they need to buy equipment.

Brock says there's a specific soil mixture that works well for growing hemp and the Bouldin & Lawson machines can help get that soil mix exact.

Brock said business took a slight downturn about a decade ago, but it's been very steady the past five years.

"It used to get slow for a few months in January and February and we'd have to cut back to 32-hour work weeks," said Brock. "But work has been so steady we haven't needed to do that for several years."

Monty Rowland was fine tuning a machine on Friday to ensure everything was working correctly. The machine takes a plastic tray and places seeds in 288 slots with soil. 

This saves a huge amount of time because it prevents the process from being done by hand. Bouldin & Lawson has sold a similar machine to a company in Dubai.