G. Wine Sales Upgrades Reduce Changeover Time, Boost Production: Pasadena Skid Succeeds by Sharpening Focus, Improving Efficiency
Focus & Efficiency: Rob Trexler has made Pasadena Skid successful in the tough Texas market by focusing solely on pallet and crate manufacturing and keeping costs low. Nailing line upgrades from G. Wine Sales have reduced changeover time and boosted production.
By Chaille Brindley
Date Posted: 10/1/2013
PASADENA, Texas – Improving efficiency and focusing primarily on manufacturing wooden packaging has allowed Pasadena Skid & Pallet to remain competitive in a tough southeastern Texas market. Pasadena Skid serves the greater Houston area including Southeast Texas and Louisiana, especially the petro chemical industry.
Rob Trexler, president and co-owner of Pasadena Skid, said, “There is great price pressure in the market right now, and the competition keeps getting tougher.”
Trexler said that pallet recycling is a completely different type of business than pallet and crate manufacturing. Instead of offering both services, he has chosen to focus on the manufacturing side while partnering with other companies to provide recycled pallets to customers. Trexler said, “I have found it better to focus on manufacturing and look to reduce costs instead of trying to balance two very different types of businesses under one company.”
Automated Pallet Nailing Capacity
Nailing lines provide automation for large runs. Pasadena Skid can produce up to 3,500 pallets per day using its Viking 504 and Viking 505 automated pallet assembly systems. The company has added capacity to make its machinery lines more efficient thanks to upgrades by G. Wine Sales. For example, G. Wine Sales upgraded a Viking 504.
Randy Dunkerson, vice president and co-owner, said, “I love it because the system is a whole lot simpler to run. The processing efficiency is better, and the machine is faster. Also, we have cut our training time in half for a new operator.”
Dunkerson added, “Changeover for various pallet sizes is much easier and faster. Changeover time has gone from about 35-40 minutes to 15 minutes from last good to first good.”
Quality control inspectors at the end of the Viking 504 and 505 machines ensure that top quality standards are met. Currently, Pasadena Skid has four Viking lines. These machines run really well and are the workhorse of the operation.
When it came to upgrading the systems, Dunkerson said, “G. Wine Sales was perfect in execution and on time in terms of setup and turn around.”
A year ago Pasadena Skid added a second Viking 306. Trexler said that he likes this unit because it can use #4 quality lumber without problems. Employees can hand place poorer quality lumber and use this machine for smaller orders or when they need to run reclaimed wood. He explained, “You can’t run the same poorer quality lumber as efficiently on the Viking 504/505 models.”
Navigating a Tough Market
Staying competitive requires consistent work to eliminate costs and get the most out of raw materials. Trexler commented, “Our nailing machines help cover the costs of the operation, and we tend to make profit on other things, such as specialty packaging requests. The pallet industry is way over capacity right now in terms of pallet manufacturing capacity.”
At the same time the lumber industry has lost significant capacity, which makes sourcing lumber a much harder thing to do. Some consolidation in the region is impacting local lumber availability. For example, Georgia Pacific is buying Temple Inland. Also, the oil and gas boom has hurt logging capacity because crews are switching over to support oil exploration and development instead of logging. Trexler lamented, “The key problem with logging is financing and making enough money. I foresee that healthy sawmills are going to end up financing their logging crews to secure supply.”
Another major challenge for Pasadena Skid has been securing reliable workers. The company started using E-verify in Jan 2013 to confirm the work authorization status of new hires. Trexler said, “A lot of good workers can’t get passed through the E-verify process, and the labor market keeps getting tougher.”
The company currently employs 70 people and has worked to maintain a strong workforce despite pressure from other industries and government regulations.
One major bright spot is specialty sizes and packaging types. For example, the company made a specialty design used to move the field for the Houston Texans football team. It makes sturdy pallets used in the petrochemical market, such as a 60x60 hardwood with a solid top and bottom deck bolted together.
Today less than 10% of the pallets made by Pasadena Skid are GMAs. It produces lots of 48x48s, 46x46s and 45x45s. Many of its customers prefer hardwood over softwood.
Pasadena Skid heat treats about 80% of its manufacturing output for pallets. Dunkerson said, “Many of our clients are in the petrochemical industries and they don’t want to risk getting loads held up due to the ISPM-15 certification issue.” Pasadena Skid uses a SII dry kiln to treat pallets. It is heated with natural gas, which is abundant and cost effective in the area. The company chose a SII dry kiln because it has been easy to use and get approved as well as the fact it does an excellent job.
When it comes to specialty orders, Pasadena Skid will even make pallets out of lumber certified under either the SFI or FSC programs for companies wanting to ensure that green and renewable practices were used in sourcing wood material. Trexler added that wooden products were green before green ever became popular in the corporate world.
Getting the Most Out of Every Piece of Wood
A big part of the company’s green strategy is its sawing operation that processes dimensional pine and hardwood cants. It uses a 4-head Brewer band resaw for processing cants. The company purchased the line at auction and has used it to boost sawing capacity. It also runs a small reclaim operation that cuts used pieces down to the next workable size. Trexler explained, “It’s all about the bottom line and getting the most out of each piece of wood.”
Some customers are less strict on appearance or lumber quality, which allows less desirable material to be used, lowering cost.
Seeking to boost productivity and lessen the strain on workers, Pasadena Skid installed a new ATI stacker a few years ago for processing deckboards and runners. Dunkerson said, “The ATI stacker saves a lot of man hours.”
The company also uses a Pacific Trail crosscut unit saw to cut panels and dimension lumber. This gives the operation added flexibility.
Wood waste is chipped and put through a Rotochopper grinder. Pasadena Skid only grinds clean material and uses it to produce colored much. The company relies on Amerimulch red and black colorants for making top quality mulch. Although the grinding operation can be expensive to run, the company has made it profitable.
Ever since Trexler started his company in 1983, he has remained competitive by focusing on the manufacturing side of the business, offering quality products and service and working to maintain a quality reputation. While some companies try to do it all, Trexler has learned that less is more when you want to do one thing and do it really well.
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