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Pallet Manufacturers Reap Benefits From Upgrading Controls on Nailers by J&J Machinery
J&J Machinery: Pallet manufacturing companies reap benefits when they upgrade nailing machines with help from J&J Machinery; company’s service and controls improve nailing machine operations.

By Diane M. Calabrese
Date Posted: 9/1/2008

PENSACOLA, Florida — Suits can be tailored for a perfect fit. So can machines. That’s where J&J Machinery enters the picture.

   Jeff Purnell knew the intricacies of pallet equipment – the hydraulics, the electronics and the computer controls. He knew them thanks to decades of working in the pallet industry. Jeff’s knowledge and hands-on experience made him certain he could help pallet companies, especially those with automated nailing machines, get the most from their equipment.

   By modifying the computer control system on some nailing machines, for example, Jeff knew he could improve performance – assemble pallets faster. He knew how to upgrade the systems whether it was a new machine or an old one.

   Jeff launched J&J Machinery three years ago. (The other ‘J’ in J&J stands for his wife, Janet.)

   Through J&J Machinery, Jeff markets a computerized control system that he designed and installs for automated pallet nailing machines. He also can customize computer controls, and his company provides services to refurbish nailing machines. Jeff works with 12-14 pallet companies a year.

   J&J Machinery provides services to modify machines manufactured by Viking Engineering and GBN Engineering, two of the leading suppliers of automated pallet assembly systems. Jeff also can provide services to refurbish older nailing machines, such as the FMC and Morgan brands. “I know old machines,” said Jeff. “That’s something I pride myself in.”

   Jeff has been in the pallet industry since 1979. He began working for Campbell-Atlantic, the predecessor business of GBN, after graduating from high school and continued for 13 years. He went to work as an engineer for a number of different pallet manufacturing companies. In the course of his career he developed ways to modify nailing equipment to improve performance, and he successfully modified countless machines.

   Clint Binley, president of Pallets Inc. in Fort Edward, N.Y., was among Jeff’s first customers. Clint’s company had a Viking Duo-Matic machine that it had owned for 12 years. He contracted with Jeff to install the J&J Machinery upgrade, which Jeff named the Duo-Magic 224 Hot Rod Computer System. Before Clint contracted with J&J Machinery, he did a thorough cost analysis to determine if modifying and improving the nailing machines would be worth the investment. He concluded they would be.

   The upgraded control system lived up to its ‘Hot Rod’ name, according to Clint. Production increased significantly, he said. With some pallets, the production increase was as much as 30%.

   The Duo-Magic 224 computer control system provided other important benefits, too, Clint noted — in machine set-up, nailing accuracy and overall pallet production.

   Jeff was in his first year of business when Clint learned about J&J Machinery. “It was recommended by a business acquaintance of ours,” Clint said. “I knew a little about Jeff’s background,” he said, and had confidence in Jeff’s expertise.

   At Pallets Inc., upgrading the Viking Duo-Matic was just one of the services that Jeff provided. “He modified another nailing machine as well,” said Clint. He also helped the company improve a nailing machine that used Stanley-Bostitch pneumatic nailing tools for a specialty pallet.

   Pallets Inc. has 35 employees. Dating to 1942, the company’s long continuous history in pallets is noteworthy. “I’ve been told that we’re the second oldest pallet company in the nation that started out as pallets,” said Clint. His grandfather, Art Binley Jr., founded the company. Clint’s father, Art Binley III, retired from the business seven years ago.

   Pallets Inc. is the second oldest company in the National Wooden Pallet and Container Association (NWPCA) and has maintained a strong, active involvement in the trade organization. In fact, Clint is in line to become president of the NWPCA in 2009; that would make him the third generation of the Binley family to lead the association.

   Clint gives a great deal of thought to issues that are confronting the association and its members, including “procuring lumber across borders to shipping pallets overseas.” One of the biggest issues on the horizon is likely a move toward changing pallet design, he noted. The NWPCA recently established a blue ribbon task force, made up of NWPCA members as well as pallet users, to study the feasibility of establishing a block pallet pool in the U.S.

   Clint is guided by some basic business tenets. “I learned from my father the commitment to customers, the commitment to a quality product,” he said. Day-to-day, Pallets Inc. maintains a “commitment to customer service, quality, and reliability,” he said.

   Clint earned undergraduate and graduate degrees in business and worked in other industries before joining Pallets Inc. “Getting an education and experience,” he said, was the path his father believed that a son or daughter should take before joining a family business. Clint worked for Pepsi Cola, a mainframe computer maker, and then a pallet company in Wisconsin before returning home to join Pallets Inc.

   Pallets Inc. serves customers within a 250-mile radius of its home in the eastern part of the Empire State. “We provide wood packaging solutions to local and regional manufacturers,” said Clint. About 75% of the company’s business is hardwood pallets, and the remainder, softwood.

   Fort Edward, a town with 3500 residents, takes its name from the colonial Fort Edward. The Hudson River community is 38 miles north of Troy, N.Y.

   From its inception 66 years ago, Pallets Inc. has focused on solutions for materials handling. The company also puts a strong emphasis on collaborating with customers to solve their problems. Educating customers about all the options available to them is another important aspect of doing business.

   Pallets Inc. found Jeff takes a similar approach to his business. He is eager to answer questions, take feedback and share his expertise. In fact, Clint remarked on Jeff’s good communication skills.

   “Jeff’s willing to work with pallet companies and talk the same language to presidents, to operators” and so on, said Clint.

   When J&J Machinery takes on a project for a customer, Jeff goes to the customer’s site and remains there until the work is completed. “He provided good training with employees,” Clint recalled. “He was on site for a couple of weeks.”

   Going to a customer’s plant to get a firsthand perspective is important to Jeff. Being on site, he can interpret their objectives more clearly for a particular machine, and then gear his computer system to meet them.

   The Duo-Magic 224, which derives its name from two computers and 24 configurations, was the first J&J product. Now, Jeff also offers the Duo-Magic 2200, which has 200 configurations. “Everything after that is highly customized,” said Jeff.

   The upgraded computer control systems J&J supplies are not just applicable to older models, either. They can improve performance of new models. Jeff recently put a Duo-Magic 2200 system on a new nailing machine that had just been installed at a pallet plant in Alabama.

   “I always do the work at the machine’s location,” said Jeff. Earlier this year he fitted a Viking 504 with a J&J Machinery Duo-Magic 2200 system; that job was done for Girard Wood Products in Puyallup, Wash.

   Girard Wood Products has a new Viking Turbo 505, but with two shifts a day running, the company wanted to be able to count on its 20-year-old Viking 504, too. “We’re predominantly a new pallet manufacturer,” said Steve Vipond, president of Girard Wood Products. “And we also do pallet recycling.” The company, which dates to 1961, has been in the hands of its current owners since 1982.

   After reading a J&J Machinery ad, Steve called Jeff. They talked by phone, and Steve decided to have J&J refurbish the older Viking 504. Steve was so impressed with Jeff that he contracted for his services without consulting any references. Jeff reminded Steve of his two best vendors. “Just like the others, you can just tell” he is capable, said Steve.

   When asked to describe Jeff and those other two vendors, Steve used phrases like “responsive,” “communicates well” and “backs up” the work. “Jeff made it easy,” explained Steve. “He’s easy to get a hold of. He responded quickly. He seemed like a stand-up guy.”

   Steve’s confidence was rewarded as he assessed the progress of the project. “Jeff knows nailing machines, and he knows the pallet business,” he said. “He also did a little work for us on a GBN. He was really a pleasure to work with. He did a very nice job.” Jeff’s work on the Viking 504 included upgrading the machine’s electrical system.

   J&J has developed a number of mechanical improvements for nailing machines, too. Jeff offers an integrated positive clamp system for rails and other upgrades. Fang feeders enable a nailing machine to assemble pallets made of low-grade deck boards.

   Jeff credits his father, Donald, with stirring his interest in machines. “My father was always very mechanical,” he said. “He always gave me the incentive to learn” how machines worked.

   Janet serves as office manager at J&J Machinery. She and Jeff are the only employees.

   The first computerized systems that J&J offered “piggy-backed” on existing systems, said Jeff, but he has gone on to develop new systems of his own.

   Jeff also provides services to customize computer controls for nailing machines. “I will customize any of these systems based on my customers’ wants and needs.”

            (For more information about J&J Machinery or its products and services, call Jeff at (850) 712-4975 or e-mail jjmachinery1@gmail.com. Jeff’s company currently does not have a Web site, but he has posted four videos of machines that he has upgraded on the ‘You Tube’ Web site; to watch the videos, visit www.youtube.com, and search for duo-magix.)

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