N. Carolina Manufacturer Moves Ahead with Block Pallet Business
Granville Pallet Building Block Pallets on Storti Nailing Machine
By Tim Cox
Date Posted: 11/3/2003
Glenn’s business, Granville Pallet Company, has been operating a Storti Flex 2600 nailing system for more than a year. Storti, an Italian pallet and sawmill machinery manufacturer, is represented in
The decision to invest in a nailing machine primarily to assemble block pallets was prompted by the addition of a large customer account in recent years that required that type of pallet. Glenn sought to add another machine primarily to build the block pallets for this new customer.
“At that point, we knew we wanted another machine,” said Glenn, and the company wanted the flexibility to build block pallets.
Although other nailing machine suppliers to the pallet industry manufacture systems to assemble block pallets, Glenn did not give them in-depth consideration. The reason was his association with Greg Wine, the principal of G. Wine Sales. Glenn’s business relationship with Greg extended back to when Greg worked for another machinery supplier and continued when Greg launched his own business, marketing and selling equipment for West Plains Resaw Systems and later Storti. G. Wine Sales also offers used pallet and sawmill machinery and equipment.
Greg invited Glenn to visit a pallet manufacturing company in
Glenn admitted he had “a little” hesitation about dealing with a supplier far away in
“All my dealings with Greg have been straight as an arrow,” said Glenn. “I have a lot of faith in him.”
Glenn has been willing to “be a guinea pig” before when it came to investing in new types of machinery, he said. Some of those experiences turned out well and some did not. “This has turned out good so far,” he added.
The guinea pig comparison is rather ironic since Storti is not a newcomer to the pallet and sawmill industry, nor is this particular machine. Storti is a leading machinery manufacturer in
Glenn purchased the Storti Flex 2600 system that was demonstrated at the East Coast Sawmill and Logging Exposition in
The installation and process of bringing the new machine on line went “pretty smooth,” said Glenn. A Storti technician from
Since the machine had been set up for the trade show in
Glenn has been pleased with the machine’s performance and recommended that pallet manufacturers consider Storti if they are in the market for a new machine. “For high volume block pallets especially, I’m real confident that Storti will do the job for anybody,” he said.
Glenn grew up on a family farm in
In the mid to late 1970s, Glenn was asked to build pallets under sub-contract to a state sheltered workshop that had a pallet manufacturing operation for handicapped people; the workshop’s pallet program was administered by a family acquaintance, and the sheltered workshop had more contracts to supply pallets than it could build.
Glenn had no prior experience in the pallet industry. “The only thing I knew how to do was lay brick and build houses,” he recalled. He and his father explored the opportunity, and Glenn started in business. Soon he was visiting other pallet manufacturers to see their operations with the help of Virgil Schmidt, who was no stranger to the pallet industry.
Like other entrepreneurs, Glenn started out on a small scale. He bought a radial arm saw, a compressor and nailing tools and purchased random width boards from a nearby sawmill. Glenn hired a few employees and they worked in a 1,800-square-foot cinder block building that his father built. The company officially was launched in 1979.
The business grew quickly. The company doubled the size of its plant in the next year. As the business grew, Glenn began buying pre-cut pallet stock. In 1986 the company expanded to 12,000 square feet and added cut-up equipment and automated nailing machines.
Today Granville Pallet is situated on 10 acres and has 40,000 square feet under roof. The company currently employs 43 people and ships 40-50 truck-loads of pallets weekly. It has customers in food, pharmaceuticals, flooring ,and automotive-related manufacturing industries.
Granville Pallet manufactures about 50-60 size pallets. It produces a considerable volume of GMA pallets but also manufactures odd sizes and pallets to specification.
The company historically has built 100% hardwood pallets but is using some pine lately because low-grade hardwood raw material has been so scarce. It prefers to do business in truck-load quantities but also accommodates small orders. In addition to its nailing machines, about eight workers assemble pallets by hand.
The company added pallet recycling operations about eight years ago, and about 15-20% of its business is comprised of recycled pallets.
The company runs about 40-50,000 board feet of cants per day and supplements that production with a few loads of cut stock per week. It buys hardwood cants from sawmills in
The market for hardwood raw material is “real tough,” Glenn acknowledged. “And costly, too.”
Granville Pallet relies heavily on Brewer Inc.-Golden Eagle cut-up equipment. The company operates two cut-up lines that are equipped mainly with Brewer-Golden Eagle machines.
A board line begins with a Brewer infeed deck and unscrambler to singulate cants, which are fed to a Brewer twin cut-off saw. The cut-off saw is equipped with a waste conveyor system to carry trim-end blocks automatically to a dumpster. Sized cant material feeds in-line to a Brewer-Golden Eagle two-head horizontal bandsaw system (if needed) and then inline to a Brewer-Golden Eagle gang saw. Finished deck boards exit the gang saw and convey directly to a Brewer-Golden Eagle stacker.
The other cut-up line can be used to produce deck boards or stringers. The line begins with a Woodkraft infeed deck, unscrambler and cut-off saw, followed in line by a Brewer-Inc. single-head bandsaw and a Brewer-Inc. gang saw. After the gang saw, stringers may be routed to a Brewer-Golden Eagle two-head notcher, and boards may be directed to a Brewer-Golden Eagle stacker.
Brewer-Golden Eagle also is equipping Granville Pallet for a major change in operations, building a scragg mill that will be installed in a new building. The addition of the scragg mill will make Granville Pallet an integrated manufacturing business.
In addition to its Storti Flex 2600 nailing system, Granville Pallet also has a pair of Viking nailing machines, a Viking Turbo 505 and a Viking Duomatic, and a Fastening Technologies Company stitching machine, which is used to assemble tops and mats with bulk wire fastener material. The company has owned a number of Viking machines since about 1986.
The recycling operations are limited to repairing pallets. The company uses No. 3 lumber for repair stock. The company has no pallet dismantling operations or recycling machinery.
The company takes a two-pronged approach to residuals. End cuts of cants are sold for firewood. Other scrap wood is reduced on site by a contractor with a tub grinder. Glenn is planning to add a horizontal grinding system after the scragg mill is operational.
Granville Pallet recently added Storti equipment to automatically feed blocks and some boards into the first nailing station of the Storti Flex 2600 tandem nailing machine. The block feeding system is a new design from Storti that has fewer movable parts and operates more smoothly than previous versions, according to Glenn. The additional automated equipment eliminated the need for three workers to feed blocks manually, and Granville Pallet now operates the Storti Flex 2600 nailing system with only four employees.
Granville Pallet has built as many as seven pallets per minute on the Storti Flex 2600 nailing machine but generally averages about 300-310 pallets per hour, according to Glenn. “I’m very happy with that,” he said. The Storti nailing system, operating 10 hours daily, has required only normal preventive maintenance.
The Granville Pallet maintenance staff fabricated a large overhead hopper that was erected at the head of the Storti nailing line. Blocks are cut on a block saw in another area of the plant, and then dumped by forklift into the hopper. The hopper has an opening at the bottom where a worker is stationed to remove blocks and load them into the nailing machine’s automatic feed system.
The company is purchasing a refurbished block cutter from Brewer-Golden Eagle that will be set up near the Storti nailing system. It will be installed with an overhead conveyor system to carry blocks automatically into the hopper. The block cutter, equipped with multiple saws, will process a 48-inch piece of material into eight blocks with one cutting action.
Granville Pallet also offers custom design and manufacturing services, on-site consulting, warehouse storage, quick turn-around and customer response, and prompt delivery with its own fleet of trucks
Granville Pallet invested in a pallet heat-treating system from Kiln-Direct about a year ago. “It’s working out very well,” said Glenn. “We’re real pleased with it.” The company currently heat treats two or three truck-loads per week, but Glenn predicts the volume will grow. The company previously contracted for fumigation services on-site but discontinued the service.
Granville pallet buys Grasche saw plates and sends them out to Union Grove Saw & Knife for service. The company has used both Econotool and Profile Technology cutting tools for notching. Bulk and collated nails are supplied by Magnum, and the company also buys some collated nails from Duo-Fast. For hand nailing the company has Duo-Fast power tools.
Glenn described himself as a “pretty hands-on” owner who does “a little bit of everything.” He prices all the company’s pallets and buys most of the raw material, among other things. Although the company employs a sales staff, Glenn also keeps in personal contact with customers. His wife, Angela, works in the office and handles the company’s major financial functions, such as payroll and bookkeeping.
When he has leisure time, Glenn’s favorite past time is saltwater fishing at places like
Granville Pallet operates on a fiscal year that ends in June, and sales increased 10-12% in the year recently ended. “We had a fairly good year, but profits are down because of higher raw material costs,” said Glenn. “The bottom line is tough because of higher cant costs.” The company is currently operating at about 85% capacity.
About once a month the company treats employees to lunch on Friday. Often the meals are purchased in conjunction with a fund-raising effort of a local charitable cause.
“Our employees are what make this company,” said Glenn, “and we do have a good workforce here. Without them, we wouldn’t be what we are…Employees of Granville Pallet Company are the backbone of the company. We have good personnel.”
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