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Pallets: Cost Effective & Eco-Friendly

Patrick Sample

By Nick Southwick • Photos by Jessica McCafferty

Tucked away in the northern most corner of Rouses Point, New York you will find Adirondack Pallet. In my conversation with company president, Patrick Sample, it became clear that the business is truly a family company. Sample’s son, Chase, a graduate of Albany College of Pharmacy, is its vice-president and his future son-in-law, Destin Snart, is its operations manager. Both also work on the shop floor and were doing so at the time of our interview. Sample’s father-in-law, Larry Dominic, is responsible for property maintenance. Family involvement even dates to a time before the company’s official creation when his uncle, who owned a sawmill, provided the lumber for the new venture’s first pallets.

Pallets, also known as skids, are critical components of modern shipping. In the past, goods were shipped in crates and barrels, but those containers were limited by their size. In contrast, pallets can transport stacks of boxed goods that are secured by straps or shrink wrap and, when not in use, can be stacked and stored in much less space. While some pallets are made of plastic or metal, those are more expensive and less environmentally friendly than wooden pallets, which make up the majority of those used in shipping today.

A pallet’s structure consists of stringers, which are wooden boards laid short edge down between the top and bottom of the pallet, with the top boards forming the deck. The space between the deck and the bottom of the pallet allows forklifts, cranes and other lifting devices to easily pick up the pallet to move it and its goods to where they need to be for transport and delivery.

Sample recognized the demand for different sizes of pallets while working as an account executive for XPO Logistics early in his career. One day, a client came in to ship a large statue of the Star Wars character, Yoda, and discovered the standard pallet size was too small. That individual became the first of many of what Sample calls his “just in time” clients.

In the company’s early days, business was done in Sample’s garage and he used a pickup truck for deliveries. His contacts in the shipping world, combined with word of mouth reviews, helped the new company grow at a rapid pace without need for advertising. At that time his father, George, was the face of the company and handled customer interactions and deliveries. The younger Sample credits help and advice from his accountant, Bruce Kingsbury, for his early progress.

It wasn’t long before the new company faced ‘growing pains’ and needed to expand. Its next location was a rental property and when that proved to be too small, Sample built a second location in Mooers Forks. More growth prompted the purchase of a location in the town of Champlain and, in 2017, the entrepreneur purchased the current Rouses Point property.

The company now has three locations for a combined total of 45,000 square feet of work and storage space. Sample attributes the expansions to both a growing customer base, as well as the productivity of the machines they currently use. “They are so efficient we often run out of storage space before our pallets can be delivered,” he explained. Keeping up with demand has caused a shift in the way delivery are made – from one pick-up truck to now two dedicated delivery trucks, ten trailers and a full-time delivery driver.

From initially building the pallets by hand in his garage at a rate of one pallet every minute and a half, Adirondack Pallet now uses three Viking and two Rayco machines to assemble 20 pallets per minute. The Viking machines come from a company in Minnesota and are used to nail the deck boards to the stringers. The Raycos, also nailing machines, are used primarily to make larger pallets. In addition to the nailing machines, the company uses a dust collection system similar to those used in sawmills to keep sawdust out of the air for the health of their floor workers. Training supplied by the machine manufacturers allows the Samples to make repairs in house.

Once the pallets are built, they are “cooked” in a kiln. Under the International Plant Protection Convention regulations, all wooden pallets used to transport goods across international borders must be free of all pests and their eggs and larvae that could harm native plant species. The regulation, called ISPM 15 , requires all wooden pallets to be heated to a temperature of 133 degrees Fahrenheit for 30 minutes. If the temperature drops during that time the timer automatically restarts. The process is computerized and kept as a record for two years and checked each month by regulatory agencies.

As for the wood itself, Adirondack Pallet purchases 65 percent of its lumber from sawmills in New Hampshire, Vermont, New York, and Canada. The remaining 35 percent comes from trees that Sample or the company own outright.

Sample’s client-focused approach reaches back to his days as a sales executive, and he reminds his employees of the importance of the customers. He explained, “Paychecks come from our customers.”

As for the future of Adirondack Pallet, Sample envisions even more growth by expanding his core customer base and reaching out to other geographic markets.

For companies that ship, who are looking for a dependable supplier or need something special in a hurry, Adirondack Pallet is there, ready to help.

Adirondack Pallet

5 Lincoln Boulevard

Rouses Point, NY 12979

518 534-5931

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