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Atlanta Recyclers Form Association
Association of pallet recycling companies in the Atlanta area hopes recyclers in other states will follow their example and form local or state groups.

By Staff Writer
Date Posted: 8/1/2000

The leader of an association of pallet recycling companies in the greater Atlanta area is hoping that recyclers in other states will follow the example of the businesses in Georgia and form their own local or state associations to promote cooperative working relationships among recyclers.

The Georgia Association of Pallet Recyclers has nine member companies. The group, made up of pallet recyclers in the metro Atlanta area that now are soliciting new members from elsewhere in Georgia, meets regularly — usually monthly — for a dinner gathering at a restaurant. The members share and exchange information that can benefit one another.

The association was the brainchild of Ricky Mock, president of Mock Pallet Co. in Covington, located about 35 miles east of Atlanta. Ricky has been in the pallet business more than 17 years.

For 15 years, Ricky said, he tried unsuccessfully "to get pallet people in our area to work together instead of working against each other." He realized that pallet recyclers could help each other by sharing information — about untrustworthy vendors or suppliers, supply prices, buying and selling pallets, and more. "But some didn’t want to talk."

Over the years he developed a good networking relationship with other pallet recyclers and began suggesting the idea of a more formal association. Eventually a group of recyclers finally agreed to meet.

They met in Janury 1998 in Ricky’s home, and the seven or eight companies represented formed the Georgia Association of Pallet Recyclers. There was an agreement on the need and benefit of working together, although some still remained skeptical. They decided at the start not to disclose customer names until members reached the point where they could trust that information to one another.

The association met with success. Members swapped information that helped them operate more profitably. As time went on, however, some members withdrew and the group had difficulty convening on a regular basis. Throughout most of 1999, the group foundered, meeting only once.

Toward the end of 1999, however, there was renewed interest in an association. "More people were interested," said Ricky, 42, because they saw coming true some developments in the pallet industry that they had discussed earlier — for example, the growth of Chep and its pallet rental business and the rise of other regional and national pallet companies, such as Bromley, PalEx, and PECO. "People realized there was strength in numbers," Ricky recalled. They would have to work together in order to compete effectively against larger business organizations.

The group has been gathering monthly or regularly since the end of 1999. The dinner meetings usually last a couple of hours. Members have a full slate of topics to discuss, and many stay late afterwards, talking in the restaurant parking lot. "Now it’s hard to chase them away," said Ricky.

The association established by-laws and officers. Membership is not open; new members must be elected by the existing membership. "We’re selective who we let in," explained Rick. The members seek to abide by Christian principles in their business practices and solicit pallet recycling companies for membership that have high ethical standards. The association also is open only to privately-owned companies.

At a recent meeting, members shared information about high-risk customers and vendors and discussed plans for purchasing a kit to train forklift drivers. Members also shared information about fire safety and how to accurately determine the cost of building a custom pallet. A representative of one company talked about his experience with an online pallet auction.

"Each month, we cover different things," said Ricky. A long-term goal, he said, is to get enough companies in the association in order to be able to obtain a group health insurance policy that would cover members’ employees.

In addition to recruiting more members, the group wants to help pallet recyclers who may be interested in forming such a loose-knit association in other states.

"This is what we’re hoping to do...to get the word out that we have an association that is working here in Atlanta, and we’d like to see recyclers in other cities put together their own associations." If recyclers in other states banded together similarly, he said, it would lay the groundwork for networking among recycling companies in different states and regions. Pallet recycling companies could work cooperatively together, for example, to supply and service customers that may have multiple manufacturing plants in different states.

(Editor’s Note: For more information about the Georgia Association of Pallet Recylcers or to contact Ricky Mock, call (770) 787-8343.)

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