If you’re looking for an “unsung hero” that literally serves as a foundation for the transportation, distribution and storage for millions of products, you don’t have to look much further than the pallet. Sometimes inaccurately referred to as a skid, this flat structure provides stable support while being lifted by a forklift or other similar device. It also is the fundamental structure for a “unit load,” which combines individual items in shipping containers into single “units” yet, can be easily broken apart at a distribution point such as a wholesale or retail destination.
While most pallets are made of wood, they can also be made from plastic, steel, aluminum and even paper (referred to as “ecopallets”), and they are incredibly strong. In general, most pallets can easily carry a load of 1,000 kg (2,205 lbs.). They are also in great demand. Annually, over a half billion are manufactured and an estimated two billion are in use in the U.S. each year.
All of this is a lead-in to introducing you to General Pallet, LLC, an NJBIA member since 1960, based in Readington, and co-owned by the husband-and-wife team of Don and Paula Baldwin. Paula manages many of the essential business needs – banking, insurance, payroll, IT, the website and customer service – while Don oversees production and lumber support. Like most business owners, they both have a direct role in sales as well.
General Pallet traces their roots back to 1954 at Hadley Field in South Plainfield. Today, they are the leading supplier of pallets and specialty packaging to both the Northeast and national markets and produce 10,000 to 20,000 pallets a week at five mills located in central Pennsylvania.
Not only do they produce a great array of pallets by material – wood, heat treated wood, plastic, metal and presswood — they also go “off the menu” in creating custom crates, boxes and specialty items to meet the needs of their varied customer base. In addition, they are big supporters of “pallet art,” which can take many forms including signs and wall decorations as well as furniture.
Pallet art is actually one form of pallet recycling, and General Pallet is a great steward of the environment when it comes to recycling and using green initiatives. In fact, they were recognized in 2002 with an NJBIA Award For Excellence for their environmental dedication. They use an energy-efficient manufacturing process and offer a sophisticated pallet recycling program. In fact, throwing out pallets may be throwing money out the window as much of the product may be able to be saved and recovered for use in manufacturing new pallets.
General Pallet is just one of 20,000 companies that comprise NJBIA’s membership, which is very diverse with representation from an amazingly large and wide spectrum of fields, industries and professions. Look for more unique stories about NJBIA members in future issues of “Beyond 10 West Lafayette,” NJBIA’s membership blog.