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Growing Quint-C Pallet Co. Adds More Nailing Capacity
Tenessee pallet company has grown steadily since its founding; it turns to GBN for high speed nailing automation.
By Jack Petree
Date Posted: 8/8/2001
LIMESTONE, Tennessee — Carroll Hensley founded Quint-C Pallet Company in 1981 when he purchased a small saw system and began to cut lumber and build pallets the old-fashioned way: by hand, one at a time.
The company has grown steadily since, according to his son, Charles. In fact, Quint-C Pallet Company has progressed so well that it recently purchased and installed its third automated pallet assembly system in just over 12 years.
The company added a GBN Excalibur. Quint-C did not purchase the GBN Excalibur in order to replace an older, worn-out nailing machine, according to Charles. The decision reflected the company’s dedication to customer service and supplying quality products. With its steady growth over the years, Quint-C simply outgrew its nailing capacity and needed more.
The company chose the machine from GBN Machine and Engineering Corp. because of the Excalibur’s speed, ease of operation and reliability.
As rapidly as Quint-C has grown in the past two decades, Charles is anticipating more growth as the company increases sales and expands its range of services.
Carroll named the company after the five members of his family, who all have first names beginning with the letter C. Situated in a small town in eastern Tennessee, Quint-C is ideally located to serve nearby metropolitan areas in Tennessee as well as customers in the Carolinas, Georgia, Kentucky, Virginia and other states.
Quint-C supplies pallets for a wide variety of customers in the manufacturing sector with household goods and food products predominating. While a substantial part of its production centers around GMA pallets for the food industry, other common sizes range from 30x30 through 72x60.
Attention to the requirements of individual customers is vital, according to Charles. "A good example of that is our sales staff, which stays on top of the customer’s needs and assures we are servicing our customers in every way possible."
Keeping current with customer requirements has led Quint-C to provide some important value-added products and services. For example, Quint-C provides treating services for pallets, a service that is particularly attractive to food product manufacturers. Wood is the ideal material for these customers, according to Charles, but they need assurance that their products will not be contaminated by insects or mold. For food products manufacturers, Quint-C can supply pallets that have been treated with U.S. Borax Timbor mixed with an FDA-approved moldicide. Quint-C chose Timbor, according to Charles, because the solution is a safe, effective, approved treatment to prevent decay and insect infestation. It penetrates wood well and provides excellent residual protection.
Not only do these treated pallets provide a higher level of sanitation for food applications, they are more durable and hold quality and grade longer, according to Charles. The improved life and durability make them suitable for other applications, too.
Recycled pallets, which Charles views as a value-added product, are gaining increased focus at Quint-C. Recycled pallets are not necessarily easy to produce, he noted, especially for a company that has concentrated on new pallet manufacture. However, the company is committed to providing full service to customers, including recycled pallets.
Large national and multinational companies are particularly interested in pallet recycling services, Charles said. They expect suppliers to demonstrate a commitment to recycling, and they also expect recycling to save them on their pallet costs.
"It’s difficult to find good people to do recycling because pallet recycling is so labor intensive," said Charles, "but it’s an area of our business we see growing substantially." Pallet recycling currently accounts for less than 20% of Quint-C’s revenue, but Charles expects that figure to grow. The company’s recycling operations are equipped with a Pallet Cat dismantling machine and a pair of chop saws for trimming lumber to length.
Although Carroll started the business by building pallets by hand, his success and growth soon had the company automating. Within three years the company moved into larger quarters. By 1988 Quint-C had its first automatic nailing machine, which was replaced in 1993. The company upgraded its nailing equipment again at the turn of the century. Over the years it also has expanded the physical plant.
Quint-C has a sales staff that works closely with customers to determine what kind of shipping platform they require. "Price is always important," said Charles, "and we work hard to be competitive, but price isn’t what’s ultimately most important to a customer. If you have a good product and good service, customers will appreciate you. We’ve had customers try other options based on price — only to see them come back because of our dedication to a good product and first-class service."
The company’s cut-up operations and other pallet machinery are mainly Brewer Inc. equipment. Quint-C buys 3 5/8-inch by 6-inch hardwood cants — mainly oak, poplar and hard maple — in lengths of 8, 10, 12, 14 and 16 feet. The cants are cut to length on a Brewer Twin-Select cut-up saw. Most material is then resawn on a Brewer gang rip saw that is followed by a Cornell Industrial board stacker. (The company also has a small horizontal band machine for resawing some material.) Quint-C has a Brewer double-head notcher and a Brewer chamfer machine.
The GBN Excalibur is a real workhorse at Quint-C. "Just about everything we build is done on this machine," said Charles. He decided to invest in a GBN Excalibur mainly because of the machine’s speed and high-volume production, said Charles. "Our old machine was a good machine and we built more than 3 ˝ million pallets on it," he said. "but our growth demanded more production." The GBN Excalibur is turning out about 2,800 pallets daily, according to Charles, a significant improvement in pallet production rates.
The GBN Excalbur also has proven reliable, according to Charles. Quint-C builds pallets in advance for some customers and inventories the stock so that the pallets are ready to go. The strategy helps to smooth out the ups and downs of supplying customers who want their pallets ‘just in time’ for shipping their products. It also keeps the GBN Excalibur working steadily. In addition, Quint-C continues to expand, using up every hour of the machine’s production capacity. Building pallets in advance for customers and continuing to add new business make it critical to keep the GBN Excalibur operating at full capacity with minimal down time, and the machine has proven itself in this regard.
Charles is already making plans to add more nailing machine capacity. He is going to take an old machine out of mothballs and install it to run in tandem with the GBN Excalibur.
He also foresees additional investments in recycling. Despite the acknowledged problems of finding and retaining good labor for pallet recycling work, Quint-C will increase its presence in the recycled market, Charles said. In fact, as rapidly as the company grew in pallet manufacturing, he predicted that growth would be outstripped by further expansion into recycling. Recycled pallets one day may account for as much as 35% of Quint-C’s total production, he predicted. "For some customers a recycled component is a must," he said. "As our philosophy has always been one of doing everything we can to serve the customer well, I can’t see anything but growth in that end of our business."
Further expansion probably will mean adding employees. That may be the most difficult challenge. Quint-C has enjoyed long-term retention of key employees, according to Charles, and a family atmosphere exists at the company. It may not be easy to find and keep new workers with the same strong work ethic and dedication as the company’s existing 34 employees. "We owe a lot of our success to our people," said Charles. "We hope that as we grow and need to add people, that we will be as fortunate as we have in the past."
Quint-C Pallet Company has become a solid player in the pallet industry. It has developed a strong business connection in several states. It has achieved success by practicing old-fashioned virtues of customer service, being attentive to the marketplace, taking a forward-looking approach to providing value-added products and services, and fostering a feeling of family among its employees. Quint-C Pallet Company has demonstrated that the key to growth and long-term success is still dedication to customers by a team of people who work together toward common goals.
GBN Marks 10th Year of Making Beam-Type Nailers
For GBN Machine and Engineering Corporation, 2001 marks its 10th year of success in supplying machinery to the pallet industry.
GBN is owned and operated by three partners, Rod Gray, Paul Bailey and Raj Nainani — the company takes its name from the first letter of each of their last names — and is based in Woodford, Va. The company manufactures pallet nailing machinery, lumber stackers, pallet stackers, stringer end plating equipment, and custom equipment. Although its focus is the North American marketplace, GBN has sold and installed machines overseas, too. About 300 GBN and Campbell nailing machines are operating in pallet plants worldwide.
Raj attributed the company’s success to several factors. In addition to focusing strongly on nailing machines, GBN has chosen to develop, manufacture and market other equipment required by pallet companies. GBN also offers services to customize its machines for specific applications. Third, GBN’s customers have direct access to the owners for service.
GBN offers a number of different beam-type nailing machines that are appropriate for small pallet manufacturing businesses to high-volume pallet manufacturing. The company manufactures nailing machines in simple push/pull configurations for smaller users or custom pallets and a variety of larger, semi-automatic and automatic options for mid-sized to high-volume pallet operations. The top-of-the-line GBN system, the Excalibur, is a fully automated, high-production machine that is available in both standard and block pallet configurations.
"A pallet manufacturer can find a machine in our line that is ideal for his operation," said Paul. "Then, as they grow, we have the equipment necessary to support them."
All GBN systems use bulk nails and drive the fasteners with the aid of hydraulics. In beam-type pallet nailing systems, the pallet is oriented so that the stringer is presented parallel to the line of nail chucks. The machine drives at one time all the nails required to fasten all the deck boards to the stringer, and the pallet advances to the next stringer. (In some other pallet nailing systems, the pallet is oriented so that the deck boards are parallel to the line of nail chucks; the machine drives the nails required for a single deck board — driving one nail at a time per stringer — and advances the pallet one deck board at a time.)
The Excalibur has a fast cycle time — eight seconds for a stringer pallet and 10 seconds for a block pallet. It comes with the features that are common for GBN nailing machines and systems: countersunk nails using Tru-Driver™ compensating nail chucks, top of the line pallet stackers, computerized diagnostic system that troubleshoots the machine via telephone, and sensors to detect missing nails. An optimizing system allows the Excalibur to control a pallet’s size from all directions for consistent dimensions even if stringer thickness varies by a 1/2-inch; the optimizing feature is available on other GBN nailing machines.
GBN’s line of pallet nailing systems can manufacture a wide variety of pallets and sizes, including both stringer and block styles, as well as mats. GBN also is committed to supplying custom applications of its machinery. "If a customer makes something out of the ordinary, we will make our equipment work for them," said Paul. GBN nailing systems are designed to accommodate modifications that will allow assembly of pallets of unusual configurations. With custom modifications, GBN machines can assemble virtually any type of pallet.
The GBN owners pride themselves on being accessible to their customers. "All of us work in the plant," said Rod. "When you call, you don’t get an answering machine. You either get an owner or a secretary who will put you through to us. You can reach us. We think that’s important to our customers. They have learned that we back our machines to the hilt."
For more information, contact GBN at (800) 446-9871 or (804) 448-2033, or fax (804) 448-2684.