Pallets North is doing amazing thing with wood

It’s a funny thing how businesses come to be.

I was “cruising” around with a client on Monday (my client’s name is Tim Cruise, and he owns Simcoe Fasteners) and we visited a number of businesses that Tim services with his stapling and nailing equipment as well as staples and nails.

We pulled into an old farm on the third line of Oro Township, I looked at the medley of cars and equipment, open drive sheds, machines under tent tarps, and music bellowing from the barn. I wondered what could possibly be happening here.

Well… lots!

Eric Bowes and Dawn Braden are operating Pallets North from this former agricultural space. And what they’re doing is as important to the environment as recycling plastic pop bottles and making winter wear from them.

Every week, Eric and Dawn and their five employees are tearing down pallets, and re-building them into “new” pallets, free of nails and delivered to many customers in the Barrie area. In fact, 50 trees are saved every week as Eric and Dawn and the fellas re-cycle 3,000 wooden pallets and week and reclaim an additional 2500. Reclaiming is different… they tear down each pallet and then using the good tops from them, they add them to new bottom rails.

And, they’re original recyclers themselves. By going to auctions, Eric has picked up assembly-line machines that allow him to saw, staple, hammer, and tear apart pallets. Eric speaks enthusiastically of the “deals” he’s found from the Super Shopper, as well as proxy auctions in the U.S. When he attended the Eaton’s auction, Eric picked up six trailers that he places around the county with customers so his pallet (and their) supply is constant.

Now, pallets aren’t made from great wood! It’s usually the “heart” or the “cant” of the tree from which the 4” x 4” stringers are made. Eric buys his wood locally whenever possible, with softwood deals at Almand Lumber and Huronia High Grade. He’s still looking for a local supply of his 4×4 and 4×6 “cants” or “hearts” and says he has a couple of deals on the horizon that will push his production into Millenium proportions.

That’s where my client, Tim, comes in. Tim’s helping Eric automate his business so that assembling recycled pallets continues to be economically feasible.

Now, as you’re standing in Oro Township on a sunny Monday morning, it’s hard to put your mind around what this business really means to the environment.

A new pallet, depending on its size, runs around $10 each. A recycled pallet costs half that. As we walked through the barn, hundreds and hundreds of pallets were piled high, quality control checked and ready to be delivered. Employees, with the barn doors wide open, and rock music blaring from speakers rigged up to beams, were happily doing their part in the day’s production.

Off to one side, near the waste pile in what used to be the farm’s manure yard, lays a shiny, plastic resin pallet. Eric scoffs… the resin pallets cost around $70. They can’t be recycled. They’re an expensive, heavy alternative to his work.

Eric and Dawn continue to see the potential of this market as their customers seek out a cheaper product on which to ship their goods. Regularly, the Pallets North trucks drop pallets to Del Laboratories, Moore Packaging, Napoleon Wood Stoves and Appliances, Hunter Industries, Vitality Foods, Injectech Industries… all local companies benefitting.

Not only is Pallets North saving 50 trees a week (calculated a 1,000 board feet per tree), but these 5,200 pallets that find their way back to industry used to be dumped in landfill sites.

Now, that’s a double whammy!

Thanks, Eric. Thanks, Dawn. And thanks, Tim, for taking me there!


On another note. As I was writing last week about Annette Preston-Browning’s spa cruises on Kempenfelt Bay and Lake Simcoe, I kept saying to myself, “Donna, don’t forget to put the phone number in!” And, guess what? Sorry about that! Here it is… Skin Deep, Electrolysis and Aesthetics, 721-7091.