G. Wine Sales Expands Supplier Role to Pallet, Sawmill Industry
West Plains Rep Adds Storti Nailing, Scragg Mill Line, Moves into Manufacturing
By Tim Cox
Date Posted: 6/3/2002
Greg Wine started a pallet and sawmill machinery business in 1995, essentially beginning as a manufacturerís representative who marketed and sold the West Plains Resaw Co. line of equipment. In seven short years, his company has grown and expanded to also offer complete scragg mill systems and pallet nailing systems, and it has ventured into developing and manufacturing pallet equipment with the G. Wine Sales name plate.
"We have the most complete line of equipment and services offered by any supplier in the pallet industry," said Greg, whose company is based in King George, Va.
G. Wine Sales represents the West Plains Resaw Co. line of band saws, notchers, cut-off saws, unscramblers and decks. Last year G. Wine Sales also became the exclusive North American agent representing Storti, an Italian manufacturing company that produces scragg mills, slab reclaiming equipment and automated pallet assembly systems. G. Wine Sales also developed its own board stacker. The company offers complete installation and service.
G. Wine Sales also brokers sales of used pallet and sawmill machinery. "If a customer needs to sell a used piece in order to buy something new, we will broker that sale for them," said Greg.
He launched his company after acquiring considerable experience in the pallet machinery industry, particularly with nailing equipment. Greg worked as a technician for a nailing machine manufacturer and a nailing machine service business before being employed by Viking Engineering as a salesman and regional sales manager for nine years.
When the opportunity arose to represent West Plains, Greg talked to a lot of customers whom he also considered friends. He solicited their advice and assessed the strength of the business relationships. Even if he had confidence in West Plains and the quality of its machinery, Greg needed to know if customers "would buy it from me."
"Our main focus and product," said Greg, "is West Plains Resaw," which manufactures secondary break-down equipment for hardwood sawmills and band resaws and notchers for the pallet industry. "Iíve learned a lot from and really respect Bill Ball," the owner of West Plains Resaw. "He is in the sawmill business and the pallet business. He builds a good piece of equipment because he knows what itís like to be on the other side of the desk." West Plains manufactures individual machines to complete systems, including unscramblers, cut-off saws, vertical and horizontal band resaw lines, notchers and more.
After starting the business as a representative for West Plains, G. Wine Sales soon added services to broker sales of used equipment. "I didnít plan that," he said, "but so many customers called, asking for help to sell their old equipment and asking me to keep an eye out when they were looking to buy used equipment."
"We have such a wide variety of used equipment listed for sale. We probably have something for anybody, whether it be nailing equipment, resaws, notchers and so on."
Jim Spaulding of Spaulding Lumber Co. in Chase City, Va.., has done business with Greg since he was a representative for Viking. "I donít know anybody who is more credible, reliable or honest than Greg as far as people Iíve done business with," he said. "He does what he says, and heís a good salesman."
"He and I have a good relationship," added Jim. "Iíve bought a lot of machinery from him, and Iíve sold a lot of machinery through him."
When marketing used equipment for a company, G. Wine Sales obtains specifications and other information about the machine and also a photograph. The photograph is displayed on his companyís Web site at www.palletmachinery.com. "We get a lot of response from our Web site," said Greg.
Whenever possible when brokering used equipment sales, G. Wine Sales asks potential buyers to go and look at the machine. "Our goal is to do our best to keep everybody happy," said Greg. "If somebody is looking at a used piece of equipment and theyíre not comfortable with it, Iíd just as soon they not buy it."
G. Wine Sales has had good success with the first machine it brought to market under the companyís own name plate. Greg developed the concept of the companyís ML2 Board Stacker and later contracted with Gary Sill at Specialty Manufacturing, a Virginia company, to produce them. The ML2 may be put after band resaws, multi-trims, or other equipment, such as chamfer machines, notchers or dedusters. A new, high-speed model will automatically place cross-outs and stack up to 15,000 4-inch boards per hour, and would fit nicely behind a high-speed gang resaw that is processing random width cant material.
Last year Greg began representing Storti, an Italian manufacturer of pallet nailing systems and sawmill machinery. "We can take it from a log to the finished pallet," said Greg, describing the range of machinery his company now can supply. G. Wine Sales representatives also can provide assistance with plant lay-outs and consulting.
Storti manufactures two automated nailing systems that are being marketed to North America under the model names Flex 2200 and Flex 2600. Both machines are beam-type, tandem nailing lines, and they can assemble block and stringer pallets. The systems can include in-line equipment for automatic chamfering, corner-trimming and branding, or they can be added later.
Pallet companies in the U.S. and Canada that buy Storti equipment will be able to get parts and technical assistance from a North American-based service company headed by Lawrence Zavitz. Lawrence and his staff of technicians will be fully trained on the Storti nailing systems and other Storti equipment. The service company will be able to supply parts within 24 to 48 hours via overnight shipment.
Storti contacted Greg several years ago by letter about the idea of representing the company in North America. He began researching the company and its equipment.
Ray Piland, president of Williamsburg Millwork, encouraged Greg to consider representing Storti. Rayís company had invested in a Storti block-cutting system, and he had decided that he would consider a Storti nailing system if he added nailing capacity in the future. He encouraged Greg to represent Storti because his company could benefit by having someone so close by with knowledge of the Storti equipment. Both Williamsburg Millwork and G. Wine Sales are located in eastern Virginia. "I was delighted to hear he was interested in the Storti line," said Ray.
Greg traveled to Italy with Ray MacDermid, owner of MacDermid Pallet and Lumber in Watford, Ontario, to meet with Stortiís representatives. "We were just totally impressed," he recalled. He toured Stortiís plant and warehouse and also visited European pallet plants that were operating Storti nailing systems. At a Storti customer in France, he said, "I watched two people making six pallets a minute." The visit to Storti and its customers sealed his decision.
Storti is a family-owned business headed by Giancarlo Storti, whose father started the wood-working machinery company more than 40 years ago. "Heís very innovative and very customer-oriented," Greg said of Giancarlo, whom he described as "a great guy."
The Storti pallet nailing systems can build pallets as large as 59x59. They can assemble pallets containing two to five stringers and wing pallets.
"The biggest advantage is being able to build block and stringer pallets,"said Greg. Block pallets are going to be increasingly important in transporting manufactured goods, he noted. The Europallet, the standard pallet in Europe, is a block-style pallet. In North America, CHEP no longer builds stringer pallets.
"If youíre going to buy a nailing machine, itís better to buy for the future," said Greg. "And with this machine, even if you only build stringer pallets now, you have the capability down the road to make block pallets, too."
The Storti nailing lines are heavy-duty machines and will be marketed "at a very competitive price," said Greg. "These machines are very heavily-built. They are consistent and smooth-running, and they have very accurate board placement."
The Storti machines assemble block and stringer pallets at a rate of about six or seven pallets per minute. The number of operators required varies, depending on the machine model, optional equipment, and the type of pallet that is being assembled.
The Storti nailing systems are equipped with video cameras and monitors that enable the operators to see the pallet on the other side of the nailing station that was just assembled or partly assembled. The machines are equipped with sensors that automatically detect if a nail was missed, and the operator will be alerted at the monitor. A unique feature of the Storti system is a powered steel bed outfeed conveyor behind the pallet stacker at the end of the line.
Storti nailing systems are equipped with a unique self-diagnostic feature at the control panel. "If the machine stops running, the operator can hit a button, and it will diagnose the problem," said Greg.
The information systems on the Storti nailing line are bi-lingual -- another important benefit. The monitor on the control panel can communicate with the operator in five different languages, including Spanish. "You hit the button for Spanish, and thatís what it reads out," said Greg.
Pall Pro, an interactive, reality-based computer program to design pallets, comes free with the Storti nailing machines. "You design the pallet and it prints it out," said Greg. "Itís a good sales tool to show a customer."
G. Wine Sales recently sold Storti systems to MacDermid Pallet and Lumber and a U.S. pallet manufacturer.
Some North American pallet manufacturers may be hesitant to buy a nailing system from an overseas supplier, Greg conceded. However, the economy has become more global, he noted, with companies doing business with vendors and customers around the world. "Processors they use in the machine can be purchased in the U.S.," he said. "Most everything nowadays is interchangeable."
In addition, pallet manufacturers have been impressed with the simplicity of the Storti machine once they took a first-hand look at it, said Greg, who can arrange for potential customers to view the Storti machines that are operational at Williamsburg Millwork and MacDermid Pallet.
Storti also manufactures scragg mill equipment, and G. Wine Sales will market and sell the line in North America. The company sells individual components and complete turnkey cut-up systems. A Storti scragg mill line, from the log to stacked pallet boards and including slab recovery, requires only four workers to run. Greg viewed several Storti scragg mill lines operating on a later trip to Europe.
"I think weíll sell a lot of the slab reclaim lines here in the U.S.," said Greg. "Not many people are reclaiming slabs like they should, and those that are have very labor-intensive operations." Storti automated slab recovery systems take the slab to a cut-off saw, then to an edger and finally to a horizontal gang saw.
The Storti scragg mills are designed to process pallet logs. They are equipped with circular saw blades and are available with two blades, four, or more. The scragg mill lines will produce between 35-45,000 board feet of pallet lumber -- depending on log diameter -- in an eight-hour shift. The same service group will provide parts and service for the Storti sawmill equipment.
Blades for Storti-made sawmill equipment may be purchased from North American suppliers.
The most important benefit of the Storti scragg mill system is that the automated line reduces labor, said Greg. It potentially can reduce labor by about two-thirds. "And it is competitively priced as well," he added.
In just a few short years Greg has assembled a team of four other employees. "No company is successful without good people," he said. Wesley Nelms and Jim Reynolds, who has 35 years experience in the pallet and sawmill industries, are the companyís lead representative for West Plains. Ray represents G. Wine Sales north of the border. And Shawna DeIulio manages the companyís Web site and everything else under the sun.
"Iíd like to thank everyone in the pallet industry for allowing us to serve them," said Greg. "We will do our best to continue to take care of everyoneís needs."
"The people in the pallet and sawmill business are the best people to work with in the world," Greg added. "Theyíre great people."
For more information about G. Wine Sales or its machinery lines, contact the company at (540) 644-9220, fax (540) 663-4081, visit its Web site at www.palletmachinery.com, or e-mail palletmachinery@hotmail.
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