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Ohio Recycler’s Focus Is Custom Pallets, Providing Strong Service: Dobie Pallets Relies on Saw Service & Supply for Blades, Equipment
Dobie Pallets: Ohio pallet recycling company keeps focus on specialty pallets and providing strong service; Dobie Pallets has relied on Saw Service & Supply since its inception.
By Peter Hildebrandt
Date Posted: 8/1/2007
NORTH RIDGEVILLE, Ohio — When you hear about the latest travels that Larry Moyes, owner of Dobie Pallets, has taken on his Harley-Davidson motorcycle, it’s easy to conclude the pallet recycler is now living the good life.
He rode to New Hampshire, Maine and then back through the Adirondack Mountains of New York. Larry also has a get-away cottage on Lake Erie’s Marblehead Peninsula. He escapes there on occasion to take out his boat and fish for walleye and perch or hop-scotch islands.
Like other entrepreneurs, Larry earned the rewards he has reaped. Like other pallet recyclers, he started out small, working hard.
“I learned the meaning of hard work early on when I first started out by pulling the pallets apart with a pry bar,” he recalled. “My only other tools were a hammer and some nails. I also had an electric forklift that would only let me unload six stacks of pallets before I had to plug it in for a recharge.”
“It was definitely a challenging start,” he continued. “At first I put the pallets in my driveway at home before I found a better location, one that was more popular with my neighbors.”
Larry moved the pallets out of his driveway and into the basement of his wife’s wallpaper store. “I managed to cram some 2,000 pallets in her Discount Decorating of Elyria, Ohio.” Later he got his own shop with 6,000 square feet.
Larry started by collecting used pallets and selling them to a pallet recycling company. He brought in a friend with a truck, but they parted ways three weeks later, so Larry bought a truck and kept at it. He continued working at his job, driving a concrete truck, while he built his pallet recycling business in his free time.
Larry enjoyed the challenge of starting and growing his own business. “I really don’t like to work for someone else because I like to do things my way – right or wrong. Once I found pallet recycling, I never looked back. I just like doing the best job I can at this.”
He did about $12,000 in gross sales his first year, 1989, and sales increased steadily the next few years.
Larry moved his business once more to its current location in a 2,100-square-foot building. The company, which services customers mainly within a 60-mile radius in northeast Ohio, has one semi-tractor, eight trailers and three forklifts.
“Though the economy has been off lately, we’re still doing okay thanks to our base customers,” said Larry, who puts a strong emphasis on customer service.
Saw Service & Supply
Cleveland-based Saw Service & Supply has been there for Larry right from the start. Larry turned to Saw Service & Supply for a Hawk bandsaw dismantling machine and a Saw Service 10-inch trim saw.
Larry recently purchased the new Saw Service HD (heavy duty) Chop Saw. This new chop saw from Saw Service & Supply is belt-driven with a 5 hp motor and runs a 12-inch disposable blade. “We just installed it, and it is an excellent addition to our facility,” said Larry. “It is a real work horse.”
The machines from Saw Service & Supply have performed reliably, and Larry has received good support from the supplier. “I get great service from Saw Service & Supply,” said Larry. “I can talk to any of the three saw blade specialists, Gary Snyder, Dale Belock or Nathan Belock, for ways to improve my saw blade performance.”
Saw Service and Supply was founded in 1954, supplying cutting tools to metal fabrication businesses. “We have a long history of servicing the metal-cutting fabricators in this area,” said Gary.
Saw Service & Supply expanded into the pallet industry in 1997. Gary explained, “We took the metal-cutting technology which we already knew and applied it to the pallet repair industry. We started marketing bandsaw dismantling blades, custom-made Nail Cutter circular saw blades and introduced a cost effective, disposable, circular saw blade line.”
The line of disposable circular saw blades consists of 7-1/4-inch, 10-inch, 12-inch and 14-inch saw blades. They are a cost effective alternative for pallet recyclers and have been well accepted, according to Saw Service & Supply. These blades reduce the cost to re-size reclaimed deck boards and stringers because they eliminate the need to constantly sharpen and tip saw blades. In lieu of servicing blades, these low cost blades can be discarded.
Saw Service & Supply expanded further into pallet recycling machinery and safety supplies to become a “one call does it all” supplier.
“Larry is a typical customer of ours,” said Gary. “He’s the owner and at times drives the truck to make a delivery. He is a salesman, runs the shop and manages the business. He’s a guy who wears many different hats. That’s where we fit in is as a supplier. We make it easier for him to run his business. We keep him supplied with the items he commonly uses. With Saw Service and Supply, Larry does not have to go to different places for bandsaw blades, circular saw blades, safety equipment and other supplies. We can ship all these items to his door, and we ship same day.”
Saw Service & Supply has sales coverage throughout the U.S., Canada and Mexico with the expertise of Dale and Nathan. They are experts in pallet recycling saw blade applications and are available to help pallet recyclers build their business, handle machine technical problems and answer questions related to saw blade performance. “They are our ‘go to’ guys,” said Gary.
In addition to being a major supplier of bandsaw blades, circular saw blades and other supplies, Saw Service & Supply manufactures the Hawk bandsaw dismantler and the Saw Service 10-inch trim saw along with its newest machine, the Saw Service HD Chop Saw.
Dobie Pallets has a market focus on custom, specialty pallets. “We will make specialty sizes as needed up to 10 feet by 10 feet,” said Larry, “but I don’t like doing those so much.” His company’s operations are more suited for producing pallets with a smaller footprint, Larry has found.
In addition to the three machines he purchased from Saw Service & Supply, Larry’s company has a notching machine from Samuel Kent Baker Co. for making notched stringers; the notching machine cutting heads are supplied by Profile Technology.
The company uses virtually all recycled pallet lumber. Pallets that are not suitable to be repaired are dismantled in order to recycle the used lumber. The reclaimed pallet lumber is sorted by length and species (mainly pine and hardwoods), then cut to length on the trim saw or new chop saw. The reclaimed components are used for repair stock and also to build ‘new’ pallets from scratch with recycled material. Pallets are repaired and assembled with Stanley-Bostitch pneumatic nailing tools and Eagle Metal plates. Dobie Palletss recycles from 1,500 pallets on a slow to average week to 3,000 in a busy week.
The Saw Service & Supply Hawk bandsaw dismantler is powered by a 15 hp motor and has a 60-inch throat. “It doesn’t have any of the up and down table adjustments for the guys to play around with,” said Larry. “They only have to put the pallet on the blade and get it started…This also eliminates potential problems from the extra mechanics involved, such as breakdowns of controls that would adjust the table.”
Larry’s company uses trailer vans to collect and retrieve used pallets from customers, and he also buys them from ‘pickers.’ Incoming used pallets are unloaded at a dock behind the building and are staged in the building in stacks. Larry keeps about 5,000 used pallets on hand at any time, ready to be recycled.
When the pallets are ready to be recycled, stacks are moved to repair stations. The men working at the repair
Pallets are graded by three classes — A, B and C or 1, 2 and 3. Most A pallets are supplied to customers in the grocery industry that require very clean pallets. B or C quality pallets are sold to various industries, including plastics and paper.
The company stacks scrap material in front of its building, and nearby residents can come by and take it for free for firewood. Small wood scraps are placed into a 40-cubic-yard container and hauled away by another company that grinds it into mulch for landscaping.
“Perhaps our biggest problem is labor,” said Larry – an adequate supply of good, reliable workers. “But presently we appear to have a great crew.”
“My secretary, Marcia, has truly helped to get everything in place with the company. She’s quite attentive to her work here. Mike Dewey is my right hand man in the plant, running operations largely from his forklift.”
Larry’s wife, Linda, and two sons are not involved in the business. However, he has an 8-year-old granddaughter, Harlee, who likes to come to the office and help Marcia. ““I think when she gets a bit older she’ll be coming aboard,” he said.
Larry has been to pallet industry trade shows in Las Vegas, Nashville and Richmond. He also has visited other pallet companies in Minnesota and Pennsylvania.
“You will hear things at the shows which you won’t hear from your next door pallet company,” said Larry. “He’s not going to tell you anything because you’re competition. But the show attendees tend to be quite forthcoming with information, such as helpful tips and pointers on their own operations.”
“Early on in the business, when I noticed another pallet maker had a magazine called Pallet Enterprise, I begged him for one of his spare copies. I’ve been an avid reader of the magazine.”
“Hard work, perseverance and due diligence have been the key to my success in this business,” said Larry. “I just deal with things as they come up and try to keep a positive attitude, and this has always seemed to work for me.”