Success doesn't happen by accident; Hi-Tech Engineering, Inc. was started in 1988 by the late John Fletcher and LC Gaither. They were joined in 1989 by Chris Raybon, Pat Conry & Russell Kennedy. What began as a consulting firm to the forest products industry soon blossomed into one of the most successful OEM’s of computerized sawmill machinery in the southeastern United States. The story behind their success began with their first successful laser trimmer optimizer in 1991. The rest, as they say, is history.
FOUNDING PARTNERS - 1990
From Left to Right: LC Gaither, Pat Conry, Chris Raybon, John Fletcher, and Russell Kennedy
HI-TECH's FIRST TEAM - 1990 From Left to Right: Giovanni LiMandri, BJ Bridges, Mike Bearden, Chris Raybon, LC Gaither, Jeff Nobles, Russell Kennedy, Pat Conry, John Fletcher, John Fletcher, John Oliver, Terry Smith, Nancy Millard, and Ken Geubert.
Raybon, Kennedy and Conry operated the company until selling their majority interest to Comact, Inc in January of 2000. A year after the sale, Kennedy left to pursue other interests while Raybon and Conry stayed on as part of the Hi-Tech Comact management team.
Early in 2004, when Comact made the decision to shut down the Baxley, Georgia plant, Chris Raybon and Pat Conry stepped up to form Baxley Equipment Company to keep the plant open. With the approval of Comact, Baxley built miscellaneous equipment for OSB plants as well as some over-flow sawmill equipment for Hi-Tech Comact. Russell Kennedy re-joined the team in October of 2004.
A group was put together early in 2005 to purchase the assets of Hi-Tech Electronics. The group includes thirteen shareholder employees and key members of the Hi-Tech team; Paul Caple, Ronnie Clem, Lamar Currington, Patrick Flemming, John Oliver, Joey Rogers, Donna Smith, Jada Smith, Philip Stevens, Ronnie Stewart, Darrell Taylor, Chris Taylor and Andy Trantham. One year later, this group purchased the remaining assets of Hi-Tech. Portions of the remaining assets of Comact, Inc were sold to the management group at Comact which became Comact Equipment, Inc and Comact US, Inc.
In February of 2008, Baxley partnered up with long-time industry veterans Jim Krauss and Josh Krauss to purchase Price-Systems located in Malvern, AR. The new company, Price LogPro, LLC, manufactures machinery for sawmill logyards, engineered wood products plants, pulp and paper plants, chip mills, pellet mills and biomass energy plants.
According to Kennedy, “The employee ownership of Baxley Equipment makes us unique as an O.E.M. in the forest products equipment business. We have found that this ownership interest gives the customer a big advantage and has stepped up the level of service that we were able to provide in the past.” These strategic purchases have positioned Baxley Equipment to provide their customers with the products they need and the service they deserve. Most importantly, it has benefited Hi-Tech customers with continued equipment service and sales support.
Baxley and LogPro now employ ~200 people and are operated from a 145,000 sqft office and fabrication facility located on 13.9 acres in Hot Springs, Arkansas. Baxley operates a second 45,000 sqft fabrication facility in Baxley, GA.
Raybon, Conry, and Kennedy have been co-workers and partners for the past 35 years. The “Hi-Tech” team has just passed the 26 year mark in providing their customers with innovative equipment and excellent service. Their reputation is built on innovation and integrity.