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G. Wine Sales Helping Companies Increase Production, Trim Labor: Customers in Washington, Texas Benefit from New Stackers
G. Wine Sales: Girard Wood Products in Washington and Groves Pallet in Texas both reaping benefits of using the G. Wine Sales ML2 board stacker in their pallet cut-up operations.

By Carolee Anita Boyles
Date Posted: 4/1/2008

    Some companies just have “it” — that combination of reliable equip-ment, personable staff, and great customer support that creates loyal long-term customers.

    G. Wine Sales in King George, Virginia, is one of those companies. Owned by Greg Wine, G. Wine Sales offers a full range of services to the pallet and sawmill industries. The company sells new and high quality used equipment, assists with plant layouts, and helps customers sell their old equipment.

    “We see ourselves as a sales company that listens to customers’ needs,” said Greg. “Our board stackers are built by Automated Industrial Technologies, which is owned by Gary Sill. We sell the board stackers that Gary manufactures. We’re a partnership because the stackers were developed by G. Wine Sales, but I didn’t want to be in the machinery manufacturing business. So Gary engineered and manufactures them. We also represent West Plains Resaw, which manufactures band resaws, and Storti, which manufactures scragg mill and pallet machinery.”

    Because G. Wine Sales sells both new and used equipment, it offers the best of both worlds for customers. Greg and his company also have a good understanding of the pallet industry — what pallet manufacturers need in the way of equipment and what’s going on financially in the industry as a whole.

    Greg’s business philosophy is simple: treat other people like he would like to be treated.

    “We don’t want to sell something to someone that’s not what they need,” he said, “but when someone has a need to fill, we want to fill that need.”

    One of the things that has made G. Wine Sales so successful, Greg said, is the wide variety of resources the company brings to the table. The suppliers represented by G. Wine Sales can equip a business for a scragg mill, lumber remanufacturing operations and automated pallet assembly.

    “We can help our customers with their whole plant because of the number of companies we represent,” he said. “We have contact with more than 25 engineers through these different companies. We don’t have all the answers, but we can get them.” This gives G. Wine Sales flexibility and breadth of expertise that few companies in any industry can match.

    “We’ve assembled a great team here,” added Greg. “Everyone works together for the common goal of taking care of the customer. I was told a long time ago to surround yourself with good people, and I am pleased to say that we’ve done that!”


Girard Wood Products

    A very satisfied G. Wine Sales customer is Girard Wood Products in Elma and Puyallup, Washington. Company president Steve Vipond and his two brothers, Greg and Scott, run a two-location operation that relies heavily on a number of pieces of equipment that were supplied by G. Wine Sales to maintain the efficiency of their business.

    Seven years ago, in a move unusual in the pallet industry, the Vipond brothers built the plant in Elma from the ground up.

    “The Elma facility is primarily a cutting facility although we make a few pallets there,” Steve said. “Besides the stackers, we put in a new saw system that processes more than 100,000 board feet of 2x4s per shift, and we run two shifts.” Originally the Elma facility had two stackers, but recently the company added four more.

    “We bought our first two stackers from G. Wine Sales, and they were a pleasure to do business with,” Steve said. “They have a good product that’s straightforward and simple and doesn’t require a lot of maintenance. When it came time to buy the other four stackers, there was no question about where we would buy them. G. Wine Sales makes it very easy to do business with them. It starts with the way they answer their phone and how fast they return calls. Treva, who answers the phone, is more than just the receptionist; she is Greg’s right-hand man, if you will. The whole company is very efficient, their billing is accurate and timely, and they’re very helpful all the way around.”

    One of the big challenges in the pallet industry is labor, and equipment that stacks pallet parts automatically helps Girard Wood Products cope with that challenge.

    “Using the stackers reduces labor and makes the job more rewarding for our employees,” Steve said. “People like running stackers. They don’t like hand-stacking lumber.”

    The facility in Elma has allowed the Puyallup portion of the business to greatly increase its output. “Today, we process about 5,000 pallets a day,” Steve said. “That’s up from about 1,000 pallets a day when my dad bought the company back in 1982.”

    Girard Wood Products buys low-grade 2x4 lumber from sawmills in western Washington that produce hemlock and fir dimension lumber for the housing industry. The lumber goes to a custom infeed deck with a tilt hoist and then an unscrambler. The lumber is conveyed to chop saw stations to be cut to length.

    “We have an unusual delivery system that presents individual boards to each of the chop saws,” explained Steve. “The guys don’t have to pick the wood up. That’s a real significant feature of the system.” That is what makes the saw line so productive, he said.

    When the lumber is cut to length, the pieces are dropped onto a series of take-away belts. Based on the length and grade of the piece, it is kicked off the belt automatically by an air cylinder onto the appropriate transfer conveyor and then to the stackers. Pieces that need to be split go through a resaw line.

    Although a few pallets are manufactured on site, most of the pallet components are sent to the Puyallup facility, 63 miles away. “We’re not a big 48x40 producer,” Steve said. “We make a lot of different sizes, and we make them to order.” Girard Wood Products has customers in the beverage industry, building materials, and other industries.

    The company supplies a large volume of pallets for export shipping. “We do a lot of heat-treated pallets,” Steve said. “That’s very easy for us to do because the large sawmills predominantly produce kiln-dried material.”

    Labor continues to be the big challenge for Girard Wood Products, but the stackers help tremendously.

    “We have a lot of employees,” said Steve. “The plant in Elma has 50. That’s a big reason we put in the stackers. They’re more efficient, and they improve the morale of the employees. The more we automate, the more we can afford to pay our employees, and that helps keep them happy.”


Groves Pallet

    Another happy customer of G. Wine Sales is Andy Dunn, owner of Groves Pallet Co. in Port Neches, Texas. Because Groves Pallet makes so many different sizes of pallets, Andy measures his output in board feet rather than in the number of pallets manufactured.

    “When I bought this mill in 1989, it was making about 55,000 to 60,000 board feet a day,” he said. “Now we’re up to doing around 90,000 board feet a day of finished product.”

    Groves Pallet is based right where the oil business started in this country. “We’re located between Port Arthur and Beaumont,” said Andy, “very close to the 1901 Spindletop oil field discovery that launched the petroleum industry. Gulf, Exxon, Texaco, Mobil – they all started here. We mainly service the petrochemical industry that since has concentrated in this area.”

    The two items most often shipped on their pallets, Andy said, are bales of rubber and plastic pellets, both of which are shipped to domestic and export markets.

    “The plastic pellets are used to make the dashboard in your car and the toys your kids play with,” he said.

    “The plastic pellets go all over the world,” he added. Accordingly, nearly 100% of the pallets made by Groves Pallet are heat-treated for export shipping.

    “We do about 75 percent kiln-dried pine pallets, and about 25 percent hardwood,” said Andy. “Most of our pine comes from Mississippi, Louisiana and Arkansas. Most of our hardwood, we buy within about 200 miles.”

    On one kiln-dried pine lumber line, the company uses a Newman KM-16 multi-trim saw to cut the lumber to length. The trimmed lumber is then conveyed down to a Pendu (Cornell) linebar resaw for deck board production or to a Hazledine Model J-92 for notched stringer production. Components are manually stacked and then moved to the pallet assembly area.

    Andy recently converted a similar production line to exclusively produce notched stringers with the aid of a new G. Wine Sales M2L stacker. “On this line, we have a West Plains dealer deck feeding a KM-16 multi-trim saw that cuts the lumber to length,” he said. “From there, it moves on to a conveyor into the back of a Bob Hannah notcher. When it comes out of the notcher, it goes into the M2L stacker.”

    The G. Wine Sales stacker has made a significant contribution to production capability. “We were using six people to do the notching operation before we put in the stacker,” said Andy. “Now we’re using three and getting one and half times the production.”

    On a third line for kiln-dried pine, Andy uses a Pacific Trail Exacta Cut Model 116-22PM cross-cut package saw to cut bundles of pine lumber to length. Bundles are moved to and fed into two Pendu (Cornell) CLB double-arbor linebar resaws. Boards exiting the resaws are dropped onto a belt that aligns them to feed into another G. Wine Sales stacker.

    “We were using six men for this function, but now, with the new configuration and stacker, we’re using five and getting double the production,” Andy said.

    There are two production lines in the hardwood area; one is a cant line and the other is a board line. The cant line is equipped with a Brewer BR1695 cut-off saw, with associated conveyers and decks, to cut the cants to length. The trimmed to length pieces go to a West Plains two-head Model 400 bandsaw.

    “We use that saw to size and split the cants,” explained Andy. “From there, the wood goes into a Brewer BR8112 stretch double-arbor gang saw. Output moves to a round stacking table where the lumber is stacked manually, then sent to the assembly area.”

    On the board line, a Newman KM-16 cuts the lumber to length, and a Brewer BR2487 single-arbor gang saw with a planer head sizes the boards and resaws them into pallet parts.

    “We don’t make any standard size pallets,” Andy said. “They’re all made to custom specifications for our customers.”

    For assembling pallets automatically, Groves Pallet has a GBN Excalibur tandem nailing machine with an automatic stringer feeder, two GBN Patriot nailing machines, one with an automatic stringer feeder, a Viking DuoMax nailing machine and a Stapling Machine Co. assembly system that is used to assemble block pallet mats.

    “We have a Brunner Hildebrand heat-treating chamber for our hardwood pallets so they can go overseas as well as the pine pallets, since that wood is already heat-treated,” Andy said.

    As with Girard Wood Products, the G. Wine Sales stackers reduced labor costs and made operations more efficient and productive.

    “We’ve raised our production with less labor as a result of the stackers we bought,” Andy said. “We couldn’t have accomplished that without them.”


Looking Ahead

    One of Greg’s goals over the next few years is to get more recognition for his company’s Web site, www.palletmachinery.com.

    “I think eventually we’ll change the name of the company from G. Wine Sales to Pallet Machinery,” he said. “We already do a lot of advertising that way.”

    Whatever he calls the company, Greg’s goal is to help his customers make more money and stay in business.

    “The bottom line is that we think of ourselves as a company that sells equipment you can run with minimal labor,” he said.

    Greg’s company will exhibit at the Richmond Expo May 16-17, and he plans to introduce some new equipment at the trade show. He invites customers and potential customers to stop by his exhibit in the Old Dominion Building.

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