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Veteran Business and Start-Up Look To Trace Equipment for Machines: Ohio State Pallet Expands; Tennessee Start-Up Adds Woodpecker Nailer
Ohio State Pallet and Lynnco: Start-up company invests in Woodpecker nailing machine from Trace Equipment; machine assembles 1,200-1,500 new pallets per shift.
By Peter Hildebrandt
Date Posted: 7/1/2007
Whether it is a company owned by a veteran with years of experience or a start-up venture, pallet suppliers find it is good to do business with Trace Equipment Corp.
Gene Salyers of Ohio State Pallet in Hilliard, Oh. has done business with Trace Equipment on both levels. Gene has relied on Trace Equipment, an Indiana-based company that supplies a variety of machinery for all phases of the pallet industry.
“It is absolutely extraordinary equipment,” said Gene. “After seeing the machine demonstration at the Richmond Expo, I bought a new chop saw and Run-A-Gade bandsaw system from Trace Equipment in the fall of 2006. The Run-A-Gade has replaced two bandsaws that we previously used.”
“We are extremely happy with all of the Trace machinery,” said Gene. “As a matter of fact, I had a guy from a pallet manufacturer in Illinois stop by to see me last week. He is now buying a Run-A-Gade system as well. That’s how impressed he was with this equipment.”
Gene founded Ohio State Pallet 13 years ago. He has continued to work as a truck driver for Yellow Freight Systems, where he has been employed for more than 23 years. His sister, Lois Caldwell, has been managing Ohio State Pallet’s plant for six years.
Gene formulated the company’s name after Ohio State University. “It is good name recognition,” he said. “That’s a plus in an area where there is so much support for the university.”
The company has been in the building for 10 years ago. When Gene moved into the building, he leased about 6,000 square feet of space. He leased additional space as the business grew. He purchased the building two years ago and now the company uses the entire 45,000-square-foot facility. Ohio State Pallet now employs 25 people, including two truck drivers, and has annual sales in excess of $2 million.
Ohio State Pallet recycles pallets and makes new and combination or ‘combo’ pallets. Its main focus is recycling, however, so it relies heavily on recycling usable pallet lumber for repair stock as well as building ‘new’ pallets from recycled material.
The workhorse in the dismantling area is the Run-A-Gade bandsaw machine purchased from Trace Equipment. The Run-A-Gade is used to dismantle about 1,000 pallets daily. For new pallets and new repair stock for ‘combo’ pallets, the company buys material from local lumber yards.
Gene was enthusiastic about the new machine. “This Run-A-Gade equipment we’ve bought is absolutely phenomenal,” he said. The Run-A-Gade has a conveyor that passes underneath to collect the reclaimed lumber. Trace Equipment supplied a longer conveyor to automate the collection of reclaimed lumber from a second dismantling machine. “So we’re running two machines off that one conveyor,” Gene explained.
Longer Blade Life
The Run-A-Gade is equipped with larger, 30-inch tires and runs a longer, 25-foot blade with pneumatic air tensioning. “The blade runs cooler,” said Gene, and can dismantle about 100 additional pallets.
“The larger tire and blade system is the biggest money-saving area of that machine,” said Mona Tracy, owner of Trace Equipment.
Ohio State Pallet builds various types of ‘combo’ pallets for some customers; some have used stringers and new deck boards and others are assembled from new stringers and used deck boards.
“In general I only use new lumber if I absolutely have to,” said Gene. There are plenty of used and surplus pallets available in the company’s market region that can be dismantled to provide recycled stock, and Ohio State Pallet has a fleet of 100 trailer vans to retrieve them.
Gene also is in the process of adding a new automated pallet repair line with six stackers and a bar code system. Trace Equipment supplied the automated pallet repair line.
Gene started his business with nothing more than a compact pick-up truck and a small trailer to collect used pallets. Within six months he was ready to formally incorporate the company, and then he began investing in equipment. He made a tremendous personal commitment to build the company, working 80-100 hours per week between his business and his truck driving job for more than six years. “Because I did that, the company continued to grow,” said Gene.
Gene co-owns the business with his wife, Teresa. As plant manager, his sister, Lois, has taken on a lot of the work that Gene did previously. “Lois has reduced my stress load to the bare minimum compared to what it was before,” he said. “She pretty much took things over and ran with them.” His father, Harold, now 77, came out of retirement for more than three years to help Gene at Ohio State Pallet.
Gene plans to retire from Yellow Freight Systems in two years and then work full-time at Ohio State Pallet.
His business belongs to God, said Gene. “God has blessed this business for us,” he said. We just happen to run it for him.”
Ohio State Pallet financially supports two orphanages in India and one in Haiti. “It’s phenomenal,” said Gene. “That’s what Ohio State Pallet is about — being in the ministry for God. It’s not about me and my wife becoming rich. We’ve been able to give more money away to help people in ministry than what we’ve been able to take away from the business ourselves, personally. It’s just part of what we do.”
“We really like to highlight with our business that the blessing of God is why this business has done so well,” Gene added.
His wife, Teresa, is a professional counselor. She went back to college to earn a Master’s degree and became a licensed counselor.
Lynnco Enterprises is a start-up pallet business in Cleveland, Tenn. that was launched only six months ago. The company recycles pallets and manufactures pallets from new lumber and recycled material.
The company’s operations are housed in a 50,000-square-foot building that formerly was a furniture factory. Lynnco employs from four to 10 workers, depending on the volume of business.
The company recently invested in a new Woodpecker nailing machine from Trace Equipment. It is being used to assemble new pallets and produces 1,200-1,500 in a typical eight hour shift, according to Robert Cheek, operations manager. The company buys new lumber from Beazley Lumber near Atlanta or uses its own recycled lumber.
Trace Equipment introduced the Woodpecker in 2006. Craig Pierce, Lynnco’s sales director, watched the machine operate in a demonstration video and was duly impressed. He was the second Trace Equipment customer to order the new nailing machine. “Craig is an entrepreneur,” said Mona.
She realized the Woodpecker could help Lynnco increase production and earnings. “He was very pleased with the machine,” Mona said. “It has been very agreeable for him. The Woodpecker functions very well, especially since Craig does a lot of odd sizes in his pallet recycling operations.”
The Woodpecker has been a good seller for Trace Equipment. “This is one machine that sells itself,” said Mona. The Woodpecker can be designed per customer specifications with single-phase or three-phase options. It can be powered by a line-shaft, generator or gasoline engine. The Woodpecker automatic nailing system was developed by Burt Stutzman. The machine is produced by Stutzman Manufacturing for Trace Equipment.
Before purchasing the Woodpecker nailing machine, Lynnco had been referred to Trace Equipment by another customer and bought other equipment from Trace. The company purchased two bandsaw machines to disassemble pallets and a notching machine to make notched stringers from new or recycled lumber. Trace Equipment also provided plant layout services. “We worked together to set up all of their recycling equipment,” said Mona.
Lynnco recently ordered a Trio three-head disassembly system, a disc-type machine, from Trace Equipment. With the addition of the Trio, Craig expects to increase disassembly operations by 800 to 1,000 pallets per day.
Trace Equipment supplies several bandsaw and disc-type pallet disassembly machines. It offers a number of different models with various features and options, including conveyors to collect and remove recycled pallet parts. The company supplies automated trim saws, cut-off saws and manual chop saws, notching machines, chamfers and tables. Mona provides consulting services for designing plant layouts. In addition to new equipment, Trace supplies replacement parts and sells used equipment.
Mona is in her 10th year of owning her own business and has 25 years of experience in the forest products industry.
“If you are honest and sell good equipment and know what you’re talking about, people will come around,” she said. “People phone me because they know I stand behind everything I say. My handshake is my word. That’s a strategy that has always worked for me.”