following article featuring Associated Pallet, Inc. and Industrial
Drying & Sterilization appeared in Pallet
Enterprise magazine. To see original article, click here.
Pallet Manufacturer Builds on Success in Hardwoods;
Associated Pallet Relies on Three Brewer Inc. Cut-Up Lines, Viking
and Rayco Nailers
By Tim Cox
CARROLLTON, Kentucky Associated Pallet Inc. is a leading
manufacturer of hardwood pallets, well situated to serve markets
in the American heartland and with integrated, diverse operations
that also produce other low-grade hardwood lumber products as well
as high quality hardwood lumber.
Associated Pallet builds 40-50 types of pallets -- strictly hardwood
-- with output a maximum of about 35 trailer-loads per week. Although
it does not specialize in recycled pallets, the company offers a
No. 2 pallet made of new but lower grade material. Associated Pallet
also provides a wide range of specialty services and products, such
as skids, crates, strap notches, bevel ends and chamfering, stenciling,
grooves and banding. The companys pallet customers are mostly
heavy manufacturers of steel, plastics and automotive parts, pharmaceutical
and food grade industries with plants in Kentucky, Indiana and Illinois
and some business in Tennessee and Missouri. Associated Pallets
considerable cut-up operations keep the plant supplied with pallet
stock. They are equipped virtually entirely with machinery from
one supplier a neighbor and another leading pallet
industry player, Brewer Inc., whose operations are located a scant
two miles away in Central City.
Pallet has undergone significant growth and change since the business
was started by Carl Perry in 1964. Carl drove a milk truck at the
time he decided to launch out on his own and make pallets. He started
in a nearby hamlet called Five Spot with help from his father-in-law,
J.D. Webb. He hired five workers, and he and the men used hammers
and buckets of nails to build pallets they made from cut stock.
The business grew quickly, and four years later Carl added a sawmill
to ensure a steady supply of pallet stock. In 1992 Carl turned day-to-day
operations over to his son, Michael, who now presides over the company
as president; another son, Kevin, is executive manager in charge
of pallet operations. Mike was 18 when he began working for his
father full-time after finishing high school, and Kevin joined the
company three years later in 1981 after he completed high school.
first sawmill was a Frick hand-set mill that was used to saw flitches.
The flitches came off the mill to a single-head planer and then
to a swing saw to be cut to length. The last cut-up stage was an
Alden gang saw. The business grew gradually but steadily, and Carl
relocated the company to Bremen in 1974 and put in a fully automated
modular sawmill. He also invested in his first automated nailing
machine, a Doig, adding a second Doig nailer in 1978.
the family business is not one entity but several affiliated companies.
Operations are in several locations but predominantly in South Carrollton
in western Kentucky. Associated Pallets plant and the Premium
Hardwoods Inc. sawmill are located in South Carrollton on the same
road -- Premium Drive -- just a short distance from each other.
Perry Hardwood Lumber Inc. has operations in two sites. Its sawmill
is located in Fredonia, about 72 miles west of South Carrollton,
and it also has storage operations at Bremen, just five miles north
of South Carrollton. In addition, Premium Hardwoods contains a timberlands
division that buys timber -- Mike does some of the buying -- and
contracts for logging, and Perry Hardwoods has a trucking division.
The combined companies also operate a log yard in Big Clifty, which
is 70 miles east of the main facilities. Combined operations employ
about 115 people with about 50 at Associated Pallet, 50 at Premium
Hardwoods, and 15 at Perry Hardwoods.
under Mikes leadership, the company launched a hardwood manufacturing
division, Perry Hardwood Lumber, which produced hardwood lumber
on the modular mill. This reduced the volume of material that was
available to be sawn into pallet parts, and the company renewed
purchases of cut stock and flitches. Three years later the companys
own technicians built another sawmill in Fredonia, a copy of the
one that was running at Bremen. The new mill also was equipped with
a Precision debarker and chipper and a Ligna edger. By this stage,
in 1987, sales of grade lumber outstripped pallet sales.
acquired another sawmill in 1986 with the purchase of Matney Lumber
Co., located about 25 miles west, although it subsequently sold
the sawmill. The acquisition of Matney Lumber allowed the company
to increase production of grade lumber and pallet cants. It also
put the company in the business of manufacturing specialty timbers
for the mining industry.
had a vision to produce superior hardwood lumber and eventually
expand into markets for finished lumber and secondary lumber products.
The company could not accomplish that with its existing sawmill
equipment, however. Mike started Premium Hardwoods Inc. in 1992
and began a four-year process of researching and planning a new,
state-of-the-art sawmill to produce furniture grade lumber and flooring.
The company built a new hardwood sawmill in 1996, and it began operating
in 1997. The entire project was engineered by one of the companys
employees, Dwight Rickard, and its own crews did almost all the
work, from preparing the ground to programming the equipment. Company
staff fabricated virtually all the material handling equipment,
such as infeeds, decks, green chain, transfers and roll cases.
uses strictly hardwoods for pallet material. Associated Pallet obtains
cants from the sawmills of its affiliated companies; they provide
the majority of the raw material it requires. The remaining raw
material it uses comes in the form of cants and cut stock purchased
from other mills. Associated Pallet continues to seek dependable
suppliers of pallet stock.
buys cants from sawmills within the same region as its pallet and
lumber customers, reaching out further in some cases for cut stock
suppliers. Its trucks will back-haul with a load of cants or cut
stock after delivering a load of pallets or lumber.
plant has three cut-up lines, and Associated Pallet has relied heavily
on Brewer Inc. to supply machinery for its pallet cut-up operations.
Associated Pallets staff fabricated all the decks and unscramblers
for the cut-up operations. One line begins with a Brewer single
cut-off saw. Sized cant material goes through either a Brewer single-arbor,
double-bay, gang saw or a second line, a Brewer double-arbor, single-bay
gang saw. The first line is used to manufacture stringers and the
second produces deck boards.
third line, cants are cut to length on a Brewer multi-select cut-off
saw, and the resulting material is fed to a Brewer single-arbor,
double-bay gang rip saw. The last stage in the line is a Brewer
Golden Eagle three-head horizontal band saw system. This third line
is used to produce either deck boards or stringers, depending on
plant is also equipped with a Brewer chamfering machine, Whirlwind
chop saws and CAT lift trucks.
the highlights of the companys file room is an automated grinder
supplied by Wright Machine Tool Co. that the company purchased one
year at the Atlanta Expo.
has continued to add and upgrade nailing capacity over the years,
and its original Doig nailers are no longer in service. Associated
Pallet purchased a Viking Uni-Matic nailing machine in the late
1980s. "My brother was the one who was adamant about the Viking,
which turned out to be a good decision," Mike recalled. The
company invested in a Viking Turbo in 1994 for additional nailing
capacity. In recent years Associated Pallet also added two Rayco
Pallet Buddy nailers. Mike and Kevin saw the Rayco machine demonstrated
at the Midwest Forest Industry Show in Missouri several years ago
and decided to add one; they purchased the second Rayco Pallet Buddy
about a year later. In addition to the nailing machines, about eight
workers assemble custom pallets or small orders by hand, using jigs
and Stanley Bostitch power nailing tools.
plant is equipped with a Patz material handling system for collecting
and moving sawdust and wood waste. A Bruks drum chipper is used
for processing the tough trim ends of the hardwood cants. It is
the second Bruks machine the company has owned; the first was purchased
in the mid-1980s after seeing the suppliers exhibit at the
Atlanta Expo. The chips go through a second grinding process to
make a product that is marketed wholesale for landscape mulch and
has a fleet of eight tractors and 30 trailers for making deliveries
and back-hauling cants and cut stock to the pallet plant.
Pallet is unique from other pallet companies in that it has been
heat-treating pallets for 12 years. "We probably have more
experience than anyone else in the country," said Mike.
is currently strong interest in the pallet industry in heat-treating
in order to meet European Union requirements for imported wood packaging
that is free of insects. However, Associated Pallet has been kiln-drying
pallets for more than a decade because customers wanted a kiln-dried
pallet for other reasons, Mike explained. Kiln-drying eliminated
pests as well as mold and also resulted in a lighter, stronger pallet.
Kiln-dried pallets were particularly attractive to customers in
food and pharmaceutical industries that wanted to eliminate mold
from contaminating products.
Associated is certified to supply both kiln-dried and heat-treated
pallets. The company added an SII dry kiln four years ago for the
sole purpose of drying and heat-treating pallets. It also has a
20,000-square-foot warehouse to inventory treated or dried pallets.
Most pallet customers are interested in heat-treatment, Mike indicated.
timber business has been good for the company. Matney, when it was
acquired by Associated, had a standing order for timbers for one
mine. Once Associated Pallet and its affiliated businesses began
servicing the account, the company used manufacturing capacity at
its sawmills and expanded the business, adding more mines.
Premium Hardwoods sawmill has 3/4-acre under roof. Operations begin
with a Rens metal detector and HMC debarker. Primary break-down
is performed on a McDonough 6-7A band mill equipped with an HMC
linear positioning carriage and Silvatech setworks. Then the material
is transferred to a Corley line bar resaw. The mill is also equipped
with a PHL edger and an HMC double-end trimmer. A Fulghum chipper
converts scrap material into pulp and paper chips. Features of the
material handling systems include a waterfall grading system, a
150-foot green chain, and 54 carts so the company can provide a
wide range of specialized sorting services. Premium Hardwoods has
the capability to produce 12 million board feet of Appalachian hardwood
lumber annually. The mill saws hardwoods such as red and white oak,
poplar, cherry, walnut, ash, hard maple and hickory. All lumber
is double-end trimmed, and Premium Hardwoods sorts up to five different
lengths, ranging from 6 feet to 16 feet. About 80% of the companys
grade lumber is sold green with the remainder air-dried or kiln-dried.
The companys lumber is shipped to customers in Kentucky, Illinois,
Indiana, Tennessee, Missouri, Minnesota and elsewhere.
information on Associated Pallets mill direct products, call
(270) 754-4087, e-mail email@example.com, or visit the Web
site at www.associatedpallet.com.