You Said It: Chris Lasseter, sales director, Summerford Pallet, Ashford, Ala.
Chris Lasseter, sales director of Summerford Pallet, answers questions from the Pallet Enterprise about working in the industry.
Date Posted: 12/1/2013
Chris Lasseter is the sales director for Summerford Pallet, a wooden pallet recycler, located in Ashford,
Pallet Enterprise: How and why did you first get involved in the industry?
Lasseter: After graduating from college, I was a youth pastor for 15 years, and I married into the Summerford family. As my children got older, every time they were out of school I was gone with the church. I made the decision to go into the family business so I could be with my boys more. It has been the right move, and our family business has really grown over the past seven years. Not because of me, I must add. We’ve got great people who embrace the idea that we are family here, and we hope our customers feel that as well.
Pallet Enterprise: Have economic changes over the past few years changed the way you manage your company? How?
Lasseter: It’s made things interesting. We are primarily recyclers so just like everybody else the core market has become so constricted we had to change how we operated. We have and are making large investments to capture wood from non-GMA pallets. We are making 48x40 pallets out of all different sizes of pallets now. My brother-in-law said to me the other day, the GMA as we know it is dead. The standard measurements and types of wood have gone. We are now making pallets as quickly as we can out of what we can. I will say this and it is seemingly true nationwide. Business is up and it’s good, we just don’t have enough material to keep up with it.
Pallet Enterprise: What is the best piece of business advice that you have ever received?
Lasseter: My father-in-law has always said, “You can’t manage what you can’t measure.” I will tell you that isn’t just good advice, that is truth. We have changed so many things recently trying to manage costs, and it all comes back to how much can we do and how much more do we need to do. We are constantly trying to measure our operation, and it can get to be data overload if you aren’t careful. But if you are going to manage it, you have to be able to measure it.
Pallet Enterprise: How do you think the pallet industry will have changed 5/10 years from now?
Lasseter: I don’t see the wooden pallet going anywhere. We live in a country with vast natural resources, and wood is one of those resources. There has been idea after idea trying to get rid of the wooden pallet, and we are still here. However, if we just stick our heads in the dirt and quit trying to find the next thing or the next idea, we will pass away into obscurity. I think that a wooden pallet is a sustainable product, and we should start focusing on how to get the most out of our product’s life cycle including the end of it. The majority of our industry is small privately owned companies, and we have got to start trying to help each other advance as an industry and not just as individuals. It seems society isn’t embracing the idea of “small, privately-owned businesses” as much anymore. That being said, we better embrace each other then.
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