Growth at Fla.-Based Pallet Consultants Is Sustained, Selective and Structured
Carefully structured expansion is the hallmark of Pallet Consultants
By Diane Calabrese
Date Posted: 9/1/2004
Yet carefully structured expansion is the hallmark of Pallet Consultants, a holding company in its ninth year of business. In fact, Gus Gutierrez, the company’s CEO, gives just as much attention to the organization of the company as he does to the operations of manufacturing and recycling pallets.
Pallet Consultants supplies new and remanufactured pallets as well as related services, such as pallet sorting, pallet banking and logistics. From its three
“Through our entire operation, we handle approximately 755,000 pallets per month,” said Gus, “processed and handled out of just four facilities.
As a holding company, Pallet Consultants seeks to expand its ownership stake in firms under its umbrella and to acquire pallet companies that complement its operations. For instance, this year Pallet Consultants acquired full ownership of another pallet supplier in Haines City, Pallet Associates Inc. In September Pallet Consultants also is scheduled to acquire Pallet Central Brokerage Inc. in central
Tailoring operations for efficiency drives innovations at Pallet Consultants. The results speak to the success of the approach. “We have exceeded our second quarter numbers with a 19% increase in revenue,” said Gus, “surpassing our forecasted mark.”
Gus has years of experience in the pallet industry on which to base his business decisions. He also taps his formal education in business, having earned undergraduate and graduate degrees in business from the
Al Longman, national
The company’s biggest market for wood waste grindings is boiler fuel, and mulch sold wholesale is second. Pallet Consultants also is entering the colored mulch arena. “We have decided to order a colorizing unit and market wholesale colored mulch,” said Al.
The company is considering spinning off a separate landscaping business. The landscaping division would sell the company’s colored mulch and also apply it for retail customers. “We have the moxie to go after the market,” said Al.
Another team member has been instrumental in helping Gus make some changes in operations to supply heat-treated pallets. In order to meet standards set by the IPPC (International Plant Protection Commission), Pallet Consultants added a TEMP-AIR thermal remediation system. “Eddie Dyess, division president of Pallet Consultants in central
TEMP-AIR is a division of RUPP Industries Inc. in
The TEMP-AIR system is used to heat-treat pallet components and pallets. It has enabled Pallet Consultants “to maximize…loads of treated product for shipping to any facility closest to the customer in need,” said Gus.
The TEMP-AIR chamber holds the equivalent of two truckloads of pallets. It is heated with propane and loaded with forklifts. Stafford Inspection and Consulting Services audits the results of heat-treatment and verifies that IPPC standards are met so the lumber can be marked with the heat-treating stamp.
Pallet Consultants buys mixed hardwood cut stock. As an example, for GMA pallets it buys 5/8-inch deck boards in 4-inch and 6-inch widths, 40 inches long, and stringers – notched and not notched – 1-3/8 by 3-˝, 48 inches long. For custom pallets the company buys 1x4 in 12-foot lengths and 2x4 in 8-foot, 10-foot and 12-foot lengths.
The company is considering buying a sawmill. “In the near future, we plan to open a sawmill near our
John Gamez, vice president of operations at Pallet Consultants, helps Gus to continually analyze and evaluate management information from all parts of the holding company.
Pallet Consultants employs as many as 300 at its four core installations and its brokerage business. “It bounces between 220 and 300 with the season,” said Gus. The company increases production of GMA pallets for
Affiliates of Pallet Consultants maintain separate employee payrolls although purchasing of some supplies and raw materials is consolidated where feasible.
Frank Gutierrez, operations director, has been considering how Pallet Consultants might manufacture saw blades for its own use and to sell to other companies. For now, however, it is not easy to beat Saw Service & Supply, said Gus. “We generally purchase our blades form Saw Service & Supply,” he said. “They are reliable and professional…the kind of vendor committed to providing [us] with a quality product and great service.” The company uses mainly disposable saw blades; nondisposable blades are picked up and serviced by a local supplier for each plant.
Custom pallets are assembled by hand with Stanley-Bostitch power nailing tools. “Stanley-Bostitch provides us with great on-site service at all of our locations,” said Gus. “Normally, we would use a typical 2-inch screw-shank nail. But there are custom pallets with thicker deck boards that require a 2-1/2-inch to 3-inch screw-shank nail.”
John is looking closely at the pros and cons of automating the company’s pallet repair and assembly operations. If the company moves in that direction, it may do so next year.
Pallet Consultants has long relied on the Innovative Data Systems (IDS) Pallet Track® system to determine its daily inventory of pallets at
“We believe we’re better in tune with trends than any of our competition,” said Gus. “We’ve got a feel for market conditions,” he explained.
That “feel” comes from several quarters. Working with affiliates is important. So is the composition of the team that runs Pallet Consultants.
Gus credited Al with helping the company increase
Al trains and supervises eight
Sales associates are assigned regions. However, they can make
Pallet Consultants promises 24-hour service to any location in the Southeast. Within 150 miles of its core facilities the company uses its own tractors and trailers. Delivery routes are well planned in order to minimize miles and keep the trucks moving at optimum speed.
“To help keep rein over this growth and consolidate all of our facilities, we are implementing a state-of-the-art accounting system,” said Gus. “It will not only help at our current size but will…help catapult us into the next phase of our growth and expansion plans.”
Pallet Consultants purchased its corporate headquarters in
Gus was recently elected chairman by the company’s board of directors; he assumes the dual role of CEO and chairman in September, when the company also expects to name a chief financial officer and senior director.
All the changes in the works at Pallet Consultants are made with a single goal in mind: meeting the needs of its customer. “Pallet Consultants aims to give our customers choice, convenience and flexibility,” said Gus.
Pallet Consultants emphasizes three Rs in its operations: Reduce waste, Reuse material, and Recycle the remainder. The philosophy not only benefits the environment, but it also nudges the company to look for ways to add value or extract maximum value from every product it handles. The company also collects cardboard and similar packaging material, bundles it and sends it to a recycler to be remanufactured eventually into paperboard.
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