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John Lucy, president of Clary Lumber, answers questions from the Pallet Enterprise about working in the industry.

By Staff
Date Posted: 7/1/2013

John Lucy is the president of Clary Lumber, a cut stock and specialty hardwood pallet manufacturer in Gaston, N.C.


Pallet Enterprise: What is the hardest challenge your company faces right now?

Lucy: Maintaining a full staff of skilled labor is our number one concern.  We usually go through at least 20 people to find one that wants to stay. Our safety record is good and we treat people well, but we find more people now with the mentality that they should get a reward just for showing up. At the same time, we’re trying to watch our total numbers due to the new insurance regulations. We have a good core staff and don’t really need over 50, but we need 45 that want to work, especially when we are busy.


Pallet Enterprise: What is the best piece of business advice that you have ever received?

Lucy: My father told me that the people you hire determine the success of your business. Hire good people and treat them well.


Pallet Enterprise:  What is the best part of working in this industry?

Lucy: Working with good people. And the industry itself constantly presents opportunities that push us to find better ways to work, so there is always a challenge which keeps it interesting.


Pallet Enterprise:  If you could change any business decision that you have made in the past, what would you do differently and why?

Lucy: When we merged our Virginia pallet company with a public company in 1995 we should have hired a much stronger CFO immediately after the merger. We went from $16 million to $72 million in sales in two years and were saving overhead nickels while losing raw material dollars. Turns out a new plant manager was making reject pallets and selling them for cash. This occurred for about 90 days but the plant was building large volumes at the time. That event had a major impact on the business for years to come because we ended up selling stock to raise more capital, which eventually caused us to lose control of the company.  The next controlling shareholders tried to run it but had no background in the industry, and the company filed for bankruptcy in 2003.

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