World views of Dr. L. Allan Austin

Does mainstream media treat the pallet industry like a redheaded stepchild?
July 17, 2011

Publisher wonders about what the mainstream press might report if the media decided to turn over a new leaf and give wood products and pallets a fair shake.

By Chaille Brindley
Date Posted: 1/1/2011
While selecting the top stories of 2010 to run in the best-of section for the annual Buyers’ Guide, I started to think about all the ways that pallets and wood products have been smeared in the press over the last year. I wondered for a second what it would be like if the mainstream press had painted a more positive picture of wood and especially pallets. Even though I quickly snapped back to reality, it was a nice diversion for a few moments.

The entire situation this year reminds me of the comedy routines by Rodney Dangerfield where he would say, “I don’t get no respect” or “I can’t take it no more; it’s not easy being me.”

Wood products get the rub in the marketplace because preservationists have convinced consumers that cutting down trees amounts to some sort of ecological crime. At the same point, many shippers look at pallets as a necessary evil. They hate them even though pallets have made billions of loads more efficient to ship.

Just so you won’t think of me as selfish, this column shares my escape to the wood products and pallet stories that could have been. I hope this provides a glimpse at the type of image we should be presenting to customers and consumers. We have to tell our story because others will not.

I am reminded of what my mentor told me when I worked for a major public relations firm. He said, “Never leave it to someone else to tell your story. They will either get it wrong by accident or on purpose.”

Speaking of getting it right, hopefully this issue provides the best review of all the news, insights, trends, and best practices covered in the pages of the Pallet Enterprise over the past year. We have culled our pages for what we think are the top articles. This year we selected articles and placed them in five key categories: news, general advice/how-to, industry insights, markets and raw materials, and customer trends. We added mini-articles as a way to jazz up the Buyers’ Guide. In the process, we have truly made it a resource that every reader should look through, mark up and keep handy for the next year. In addition to being a great resource to locate suppliers, it is the best way to look at the last year of Enterprise and make plans for 2011.

Even though it has been a rough years for many readers, hopefully, some bright ideas from this issue will help you position your company for growth in the coming year. Okay, so now to the “news” stories that could have been if only….

The following are fictional accounts that reflect some real-world truths about wood products and pallets. Keep in mind that these are not actual news stories. These are just some musings of what could have been reported if the mainstream press took a different view of pallets, the environmental movement and wood products.

Pallets Save Billions in Logistics Cost, Make Modern Life Possible

Business leaders from around the globe recently gathered to highlight the top unsung heroes of the global economic boom over the past 50 years. Of course, computers and vehicles were high on the list of transformational products. One fairly simple, overlooked product that has led to the efficient movement of goods around the globe are pallets, the shipping platforms that allows loads to be easily moved by forklifts.

Trillions of dollars worth of products move each year around the globe on pallets. Without pallets, loads of goods would have to be moved in small lots or by hand. This still takes place in some parts of the world, especially Asia and Africa. As China develops its economy, it has found palletization as a necessary step to eliminate waste and make supply chains more efficient. Palletization has only exploded into prominence since World War II.

Pallets were recognized by top business leaders for providing the following benefits to globalization and the incredible economic growth experienced over the past 50 years:

• Fast transit to improve delivery of goods to at-risk areas.

• Lowering logistics costs that make everyday low prices possible.

• Reduce worker strain from moving loads of products.

• Enable Just-In-Time delivery of goods.

• Facilitate efficient movement of products around the globe.

• Provide for efficient storage of loads in distribution centers and racks.

• Reduce supply shortage of necessary products by enabling a more responsive supply chain.

• Saves lives by getting necessary supplies to hot-spots or troubled regions around the globe.

• Lowering the cost for Santa Claus to deliver Christmas. Or at least that is a better explanation than reindeer and a bottomless bag of toys.

Save the Gulf – Use Wood Products

Environmental experts point to a study that indicates everything must be made of something. And the best material for things to be made from is wood compared to plastic, metal, concrete, rock, glass, sand or composites. The results are particularly startling since the environmental movement had spent years convincing consumers that wood products are indeed evil. This turnaround is due in large part to the realization that plastics are made from petroleum, which is a non-renewable, non-biodegradable substance that requires more energy to procure than other alternatives.

Environmental groups have been particularly alarmed over the past year by the ecological damage caused by the recent BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. Pictures of oil soaked birds have replaced clearcuts as the preferred marketing image to boost donations for major environmental groups.

Al Clinton, spokesperson for One Planet That’s All We Got, said, “We’ve been railing against cutting down trees for a long time. We needed a new message. He settled on – Plastics Make Environmental Destruction Possible.

He explained, “Oil spills create huge undersea dead zones. And the more we drill, the more likely we will have more oil spills. Plastics also are making their way into our bodies of water leaving debris. Additives from plastics are being found in humans and animals too. The worst ecological damage is what we don’t see.”

Clinton said, “The big problem is that people want stuff. And that stuff has to be made of something. It appears that wood is a better solution from an ecological perspective for many options. Who knew?”

He pointed to a statement made by former Earth First co-founder Dr. Patrick Moore. He exclaimed, “Trees Are the Answer!”

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One Response to Does mainstream media treat the pallet industry like a redheaded stepchild?

  • L says:

    I just want you all to know that I am an environmentalist and pro-tree preservation. That’s why I support wooden pallets! If land isn’t being used to harvest trees it would be used for something else – and that “something else” is rarely as eco-friendly as a tree farm!

    I want to urge all of my fellow environmentalists to support wooden pallets!

    (And please don’t paint preservationists as “wacky tree huggers” – that’s not the case at all! We love wood products!)

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