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Larry Markey, president of Pine Forest Lumber Company, answers questions from the Pallet Enterprise about working in the industry.

By Staff
Date Posted: 11/1/2013

Larry Markey is president of Pine Forest Lumber Company, Inc., a lumber manufacturer and wholesaler headquartered in Plymouth, Mich.


Pallet Enterprise: How and why did you first get involved in the industry?

Markey: I started in the lumber industry in 1972 with Markey Brothers Lumber Company, which was owned by my father and uncle. I worked in the lumber yard, drove a forklift, and loaded trucks and rail cars in the yard. We were a wholesale distributor based in Walled Lake, Mich. I became the yard manager and eventually moved into sales. I worked with many of the sawmills in Michigan and decided to purchase a mill in Lake City and another in Gladwin. Over the years I started two companies, Pine Tech and Pine Forest Lumber Company, and grew to be one of the largest manufacturers and distributors of dimensional and treated lumber in the Midwest. I’ve sold the dimension mills and have invested in several other mills and treating plants, specializing in fencing products and industrial lumber.


Pallet Enterprise: Have economic changes over the past few years changed the way you manage your company? How?

Markey: We were fortunate during the recession to be manufacturing a diverse array of lumber products. We were not reliant on the construction industry as a major component of our customer base. However, when lumber prices declined we needed to focus on increasing our investment in automation and reducing materials costs. We invested in our planer mill to increase our production capacity. We forged partnerships with our loggers to maintain an adequate raw material supply. Customer service remained extremely important as we made decisions about how to better serve our customers and make the products that they wanted to buy in a timely and cost-effective manner.


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

Markey: The best advice that I have received over the years was not to base my lumber business on the new home construction industry. I followed this advice back in the early 1980s when I diversified my product mix and we have been able to weather several economic downturns because of this strategy.


Pallet Enterprise: How do you think the pallet industry will have changed 5 to 10 years from now?

Markey: As a provider of wood components to the pallet industry we have seen the recycling of pallets grow over the years, and we expect that to continue to grow. There is more and more reusing of existing pallet stock which will only continue as wood pallets are more economical, recyclable and more environmentally friendly than other types of pallets. We look forward to continuing to partner with our pallet manufacturer customers in providing them with components for both recycled pallets and new pallet assembly.

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