For over 30 years the leading pallet and sawmill magazine in America.
Mayfair Lumber Expands Remanufacturing Operations: Company Adds Cross-Cut Package Saw from L-M Equipment Co. Ltd.
Mayfair Lumber: Alberta company expands lumber remanufacturing operations by adding new L-M Equipment Co. Ltd. cross-cut package saw; system features new bar code scanning technology, wireless remote control.
By Rick LeBlanc
Date Posted: 3/1/2007
CALGARY, Alberta — Mayfair Lumber first considered purchasing a cross-cut package saw several years ago, but the timing wasn’t quite right.
“The company looked into it a few years ago,” explained Jeff Chase, who is responsible for remanufactured lumber sales. “We weren’t quite big enough at that time to justify spending the money and bringing in a saw like this.”
More recently, increased business volume and a 10,000-square-foot expansion to the lumber remanufacturing operations signaled an opportunity to buy a package saw from L-M Equipment Co. in Burnaby, British Columbia.
“It is something we felt we had to do,” Jeff said, “especially out here in Alberta, where it is so tough to find employees.”
Jeff and Tim Jacob, manager of the remanufacturing division, were familiar with the benefits of a package saw from their previous experience working at a pallet manufacturing company.
The new L-M Verticut cross-cut package saw enables the company to cut twice as much lumber as it did before with a multi-trim saw. In addition, the new Verticut requires only one person to operate while the multi-trim required a three-man crew.
Mayfair Lumber is a lumber products wholesaler, and the company also remanufactures lumber and manufactures new pallets. Pallet production accounts for about 65%-70% of sales in the remanufacturing division.
The business was started over 30 years ago by its founder and president, Hank Dahl. It began as a two-man wholesale lumber business on Calgary’s historic MacLeod Trail. Today it retains a strong emphasis on wholesale lumber sales with offices in Calgary and Edmonton and over 40 employees. The company sells dimension lumber, studs, rough lumber, timbers, boards, fencing, posts and poles, treated products, oriented strand board and plywood. It also sells stakes, lathes and pallets produced in its 21,000-square-foot remanufacturing operation.
The company gradually added remanufacturing operations in response to customer requests for value-added, cut-to-length lumber and other products, including pallets. About 10 years ago the remanufacturing division grew large enough to become a separate business within Mayfair. Remanufacturing operations at the Edmonton location were moved to Calgary with the recent building addition.
The company, a member of the Canadian Wood Pallet and Container Association (CWPCA), is located on about five acres in Calgary with about 25 of the employees working in the remanufacturing operations. Calgary is in southern Alberta, about 50 miles east of the Rocky Mountains. With a population of about
Jeff, 30, the youngest of the remanufacturing management team, grew up in the Calgary area. His first job after high school was working at a pallet company where his father also first went to work after moving to Alberta.
Jeff started out as a laborer and gradually worked his way up to a foreman position and production coordinator. After a number of years he left to explore employment opportunities in other industries but returned to the pallet industry last year when he was hired by Mayfair, which had been one of his customers.
“Wherever I’ve gone, I’ve learned as I go,” Jeff remarked. “People have been patient and passed on their knowledge to me, so I have been very fortunate that way.”
When Mayfair’s management team decided it wanted to add a package saw, it took a close look at what was available from equipment manufacturers. The company compared price and other factors.
Features of the L-M Verticut that particularly impressed Jeff included the sturdy design and construction, automatic measuring system and bar code scanning technology for automated cutting.
“The bar code scanner is something I really enjoy using,” said Jeff. If a number of packages of lumber will be cut the same way, the bar code feature simplifies the process. The bar code is scanned once, and the operator pushes the start button. The bundle automatically advances through the cutting cycle.
“Basically, from my computer I can enter in what I want to cut,” Jeff explained “Say I want to cut a 40-inch piece and a 48-inch piece out of an 8-foot package. I can enter in my 2-inch initial cut, and then the 48-inch and the 40-inch. I can print off the bar code from my computer, and my operator can then scan it in. Then he can sit back and watch the machine do that all day.”
The L-M Verticut also may be operated by wireless remote control, which allows the operator to start the cutting cycle while he is on a forklift or performing other duties. The remote control feature is especially productive if Mayfair is cutting a large volume of bundles of lumber the same way.
In addition to the new L-M Verticut, Mayfair Lumber’s remanufacturing operations are equipped with a Newman-Whitney KM-16 multi-trim saw, a Baker Products horizontal bandsaw, a Morgan Saw Co. notching machine, various rip saws and a pointing saw for making stakes. The company buys saw blades and cutting tools from a local supplier.
Mayfair Lumber’s pallet production is 100% softwood. About 85% of pallet sales are in the Calgary area while lumber, stake and lath may ship to any of Canada’s Western provinces.
For pallet manufacturing, the company buys lumber from a wide range of mills. It typically purchases 2x4 economy lumber, kiln-dried and dressed, and some mill-run 1x4.
Mayfair Lumber manufactures a considerable number of odd-size pallets, such as 36x36, 39x52 and 42x42 in addition to the standard 48x40 footprint. “We are able to adapt and build what the customer needs,” Jeff noted. On the day he talked to Pallet Enterprise, the company was assembling skids 4 feet wide by 10 feet long.
Mayfair is certified under ISPM-15 to supply pallets for export applications. It purchases certified heat-treated lumber. The company’s heat-treated pallets are audited and certified by the CWPCA.
Mayfair Lumber is equipped with seven Third Man nailing systems for assembling pallets. “From my background, I’m amazed how simple they are to use and how minimal the training requirement and maintenance,” said Jeff.
The Third Man nailing system uses pneumatic nailing tools and collated fasteners. It consists of a jig with the nailing tools on a counterweighted gantry. A patented system allows the use of uneven lumber and provides precision nail placement. The standard Third Man nailing system can be used to assemble pallets up to 48x48, four-stringer pallets, and wing pallets. The company will manufacture systems to assemble custom pallet sizes.
“With our Third Man machines we can build about 300 pallets per shift per machine if we are building a fairly simple pallet,” said Jeff, “and there is little maintenance.” Mayfair Lumber uses Stanley-Bostitch pneumatic nailing tools and collated nails with the Third-Man nailing systems.
In addition to the Third Man nailing systems, Mayfair Lumber has three work stations where pallets are assembled manually with pneumatic nailing tools. Two usually are used for very small custom pallets and the third, for large, over-size pallets or skids.
Sawdust and trim ends are picked up by a nearby company and hauled away. Some trim ends generated from pallet stock and stud sizing operations are sold to a company that makes finger-jointed lumber products.
Workers assembling pallets are paid an hourly wage, like other workers at Mayfair Lumber. Jeff has some strong views on hourly wages versus piece rate wages. “I’ve had some experience with piece work in the past,” he said. “You have to watch it so closely to ensure that your quality is always going to remain the same.” In addition, piece rate wages may lead to disputes about which workers get to build the easiest pallets.
“We’ve looked into piece work a couple of times and decided that it isn’t worth the headache,” said Jeff. At Mayfair Lumber, employees receive a $1-per-hour raise after one month. “All we are asking them to do is to show up on time,” said Jeff.
Individual members of the management team have specific niches of responsibility, depending on their expertise. “We all have individual strengths and responsibilities,” said Jeff.
Tim Jacob, manager of the remanufacturing division, also manages special projects, such as the recent building addition. Dave Reibin is in charge of human resources and hiring for the division. In addition to being responsible for sales, Jeff also oversees production and is developing a safety program.
“Looking back from when I was a customer of Mayfair, the three key things that I valued as a customer were price, quality and service, and they were all there. We try to ensure that the price is competitive, that the quality is there…and that…we do whatever we can to make sure the customer is satisfied. We take the time to listen to what the customer needs.”
For more information about Mayfair Lumber, visit the Web site at www.mayfairlumber.com.Page 1 Page 2