You Said It
Greg Bowen is the founder and president of Bo’s Pallets Inc., a pallet recycler and mulch producer servicing Atlanta, Georgia. The company also offers recycling solutions for cardboard, plastic, metal; roll-off services and trailer rentals.
Date Posted: 8/1/2018
Pallet Enterprise: How do you think the pallet industry will change in the next 5-10 years?
Bowen: We will see automation fill the void of available laborers in the recycling side of our industry. The companies that automate will continue to grow while those that resist will be limited in size, if they can remain in business at all. Along with automation, pallet recyclers will need to become more of a total recycling option for suppliers. We have recently added roll-off services to our list of recycling solutions to our suppliers. I also believe we will see a consolidation of quality companies creating a vacuum of companies in the $2-9 million range.
Pallet Enterprise: How/why did you decide to get involved in the pallet industry?
Bowen: In 1984 I was a manager at the company I had worked at since high school. My father saw my company sending pallets to the landfill and told me I could sell them. The company was glad to give the pallets to me to avoid landfill fees. In 1988 I received Christ as my savior. Shortly after that, I felt him impressing me to work for myself. With no formal business training and not having a college education, I was reluctant, but I also needed more income to provide for my family. So, in 1989 I started Bo’s Pallets Inc. in my backyard with only a pickup truck and worn-out hammer my father gave me. Now 29 years later, I get up each morning excited to go meet the challenges of the work day at my company that has grown to 22 acres and 90 employees.
Pallet Enterprise: How do you decide whether or not to try a new idea at your company?
Bowen: As owner of Bo’s Pallets I’ve always tried to surround myself with a team of managers that feel empowered to speak freely at our weekly management meeting. Each person gets time to present ideas for improvement or identify a challenge we need to focus on. No one person can have all the good ideas, even if they are the owner. To determine which ideas get done first, we determine ROI (return on investment). Our industry is evolving rapidly, with challenges coming not only from our competitors but government regulations, lack of people in the labor pool, the need for capital investment for automation and growth, just to name a few. So, the projects or ideas with the fastest payback usually get done first.
Pallet Enterprise: What is the most important lesson you’ve learned about customer service?
Bowen: Customer service is the “secret to success.” You can never give too much service. Our motto is ‘Give the customer what they want, when they want, the way they want.” If we do these three things daily, we can be confident of a solid relationship with our customers. Communication is the most important aspect of service. Setting realistic expectations with our customers makes great service much easier to achieve. We also must find the balance between giving the customer what they ask for while listening to their expressed needs in case we can offer a better solution to resolve any issues they are experiencing.
Pallet Enterprise: What is your favorite part of your work day?
Bowen: Hands down my favorite part of the workday is the first hour. It sets the tone for the entire day and will determine whether we go home feeling successful. I know its corny and my managers laugh when I say it but, I call it the HOUR OF POWER. Getting focused on the priorities of the day early will make the end of the day a lot less stressful. That I get to do it with a cup of coffee in my hand is just a cherry on top.
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