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Pallet Consultants Focuses on Customer Service Excellence, Relies on HUB Industrial for Sharing the Same Values
Pallet Consultants grows thanks to its focus on customer service with its emphasis on order accuracy, quality and speedy deliver. It relies on HUB Industrial Supply for the same reasons when it comes to purchasing bandsaw blades, cutting wheels, personal protective equipment, safety, first aid and janitorial supplies. HUB Industrial has become the one-stop-shop for a wide variety of consumable products in the pallet industry.
By Ken Lacey
Date Posted: 3/1/2013
It has been said that the secret formula for success is hard work, passion and marketing. Pallet Consultants, a regional pallet company in the Southeast, certainly values all three secrets of the formula. Yet the company has grown thanks primarily to its definition of good marketing, which is to treat each customer as the highest priority and most valuable thing in the world.
From its humble beginnings in Pompano Beach, Fla. in 1996 to its present five-location situation today, the company has built a loyal following with service that includes a well-maintained fleet of trailers and customer audits that help the customer recognize its true logistics needs. Pallet Consultants also distinguishes itself from the competition by offering a quick service guarantee as well as monitoring quality control through a multiple-step process.
Although Pallet Consultants specializes in 48x40 GMA pallets, it will supply any specialty sized pallet that a customer needs. This willingness to be flexible for the sake of the customer has contributed to the significant growth the company has experienced since its inception.
“We excel in making adaptations to generic products for customers who have specific needs,” said Tony Buroker, the general manager for the company’s Atlanta facility.
The company has expanded through acquisition and startups thanks to the drive and vision of Gus Gutierrez, the company’s CEO and founder. Headquartered in Pompano Beach, Fla., Pallet Consultants also operates facilities in Atlanta, Ga.; Savannah, Ga.; Jacksonville, Fla.; and Haines City, Fla. Pallet Consultants caters to grocery warehouses, produce packers, citrus growers, fertilizer and mulching facilities, and many other industries.
Putting Customer Service First
Catering to customers’ desires while keeping your services affordable requires a little bit of fancy footwork. Buroker said his company makes it happen with a lot of advance planning and training the staff to be flexible. “We cross train so each employee on the floor can do at least two to three jobs within our system,” said Buroker.
Each of its five facilities is equipped with essentially the same kinds of Smart Saw equipment since the product manufactured at each facility is similar. Pallet Consultants does an extensive amount of recycling and repair at each facility. The company also employs different methods to reclaim the scrap wood at its various facilities. Some grind scrap into wood fuel while a few of the locations convert the scrap into colored mulch. Pallet Consultants uses West Salem grinders and Cheetah dye machines for these operations. It is equipped to heat treat pallets for export and offer a wide variety of logistics options for customers.
Quick delivery is a major strategic advantage for Pallet Consultants. Brian Groene, president of Pallet Consultants, said, “We offer 24-hour or less turnaround for most orders. This helps to differentiate us in the marketplace.” From storing popular sizes to quickly communicating incoming orders, Pallet Consultants seeks to offer fast delivery. But this doesn’t mean that the company sacrifices quality in the process.
Groene said, “We use a several point inspection process on the floor to ensure quality. For example, lead personnel do random quality audits throughout the day in the repair areas. The forklift drivers must sign off on each load as they load it since they are the last employees to see a load before it leaves our plant.”
A big part of quality is getting the customer order right. This starts before a pallet is even made or repaired. Pallet Consultants takes its name seriously by consulting with new customers to do a physical inspection of their real needs. Groene said, “We ask why a lot with new customers and realize that many times their current specification is not what they really need.”
Another way that Pallet Consultants shows its commitment to customer service is the attention given to its trailer fleet. The company feels very strongly that these are the details that separate the pros from the amateurs. Every year, the fleet is evaluated and upgraded at considerable expense, just so the customers will always be able to rely on Pallet Consultants to meet their needs.
“We’ve actually picked up a few customers over the condition of our trailers compared to the competition,” Buroker said. “The customer doesn’t want to wonder if the floor of the trailer is going to be able to support the forklift as it goes in and out of it.” Attention to these details has helped Pallet Consultants become a trusted ally to its customers.
Pallet Consultants has long been a loyal customer of HUB Industrial Supply for its consumable supplies. “When you try out a new supplier, you usually get the red carpet treatment for a little while and then things slowly start to change,” Buroker observed. “We receive the same high level of service today that we got from day one with HUB Industrial.”
Perhaps a company that has committed itself to outstanding customer service would be especially appreciative to find a supplier with similar values. “The response is spontaneous every time we place an order,” Buroker said. He noted that HUB has a wide variety of products available with “at least” competitive pricing. HUB offers same day shipping on orders placed by 6:00 p.m. (EST). This fast turnaround time is part of what sets HUB apart from other suppliers.
The array of product offerings in HUB’s catalog is designed to offer pallet recyclers and manufacturers everything they need so they can spend less time sourcing supplies and more time making pallets, according to HUB president Gabriel Curry. The products offered include saw blades, cutting wheels, personal protective equipment, safety, first aid and janitorial supplies.
Buroker also praised his HUB representative, Samuel Lacey, for being a trusted ally—someone who could keep a confidence and who possessed an insight into the industry. “About a year ago,” Buroker said, “We were in need of material—stringers and deck boards. Samuel knew some places to try that we didn’t know about and we were able to solve our problem.”
Ever-Growing List of
Products for the Pallet Market
In the years that HUB has been involved in the pallet industry, it has steadily added products to the catalog that are specific to the trade, said Curry. “We offer our exclusive bandsaw blades that rival anyone’s, and they come with a two-for-one replacement guarantee against weld failure,” he said.
HUB’s latest “super premium” dismantling bandsaw blade, a M-42 bi-metal product that features “Nail Shredder Technology,” has users experiencing marked improvement in performance over other blades, Curry said.
The sales team at HUB is specifically trained to know the nuances of the pallet business. National account manager Samuel Lacey is focused on meeting the needs of white-wood pallet operators, while specialist Jonny Guinn concentrates on companies engaged in recycling block pallets. For information on HUB’s block pallet products read the sidebar on page 15.
Committed to the Pallet Industry
HUB joined the National Wooden Pallet & Container Association a few years ago as an associate member and is active in trade shows and industry conferences.
Curry said that HUB has been publishing an industry-specific catalog called the Pallet Program Savings Guide for several years. The latest version is a glossy 56-page booklet packed with everything from saw blades to sorbents.
“It contains 90% of the everyday items a pallet yard and business office would ever need, and it’s all guaranteed to be in stock and ship the same day that it’s ordered,” said Curry.
In addition to the pallet industry, HUB Industrial Supply caters to a handful of other industries. Its business model is to identify an industry that has unique supply needs and to devote the resources necessary to become a useful ally to that industry. Although his role as president of the company puts him in charge of all the various industries served by HUB, Curry said he feels particular fondness for the pallet industry because he was so personally involved in developing HUB’s pallet program.
“Yes, I do feel a sense of ownership,” Curry said. “It’s been very rewarding to me to look back and see the concrete ways we’ve been able to help pallet manufacturers.”
Just as Pallet Consultants sets a high standard by maintaining its trailer fleet, Curry also minds the details all the way through to shipping protocols. The cartons and boxes HUB uses are specially ordered to be thicker and sturdier than what others might consider adequate.
“One of our marketing guys coined the term, ‘Cadillac Cartons,” Curry said. “My thinking was that every time a package is damaged in transit, we let the customer down. It would actually cost less to use the standard packaging and pay for the occasional shipping damage, but we decided to spend more and reduce the possibility of letting anyone down – ever.”
Buroker is one HUB customer who appreciates that mode of thought.
“HUB has always been reliable for us,” Buroker said. “We know when we order something from them, there won’t be any surprises.”
HUB Offers Blades for Block Pallet Repair
Beyond the bandsaw blades used for recycling, HUB Industrial Supply also supplies reciprocating saw blades utilized in block pallet repair. Sales specialist, Jonny Guinn, concentrates on companies engaged in recycling block pallets.
Jeff Calavan from Blue Chip Manufacturing, one of HUBs customers, has been buying from HUB for many years. “HUB service is world class,” Calavan said. “I go to bed at night knowing I’ll be taken care of.”
Blue Chip buys its personal protective equipment and maintenance supplies from HUB, as well as its proprietary reciprocating saw blades.
“These block pallet guys use a lot of recip blades to repair and recycle,” said Gabriel Curry, president of HUB. “We have tweaked the design of our recip blades over the years to make them more and more effective for this one task. As a testament to the success of this blade, it has become our best-selling single item—it’s a product only pallet recyclers use, yet it outsells any other product we sell across all the industries we specialize in.”
Since HUB became heavily involved in the pallet industry, the price of certain commodity consumables has gone down as a result of the competitive pressure brought to bear. In 2006, the market price for cutoff wheels was $1.40 and recip blades were $1.10. Seven years later, cutoff wheels are $1.05 and recip blades are $0.60, according to Curry.
“These are better-performing cutoff wheels and recip blades for a lot less money than just a few years ago,” he added. “In a competitive marketplace, the customer benefits!”