Platform for growth: Pallet maker gets tax break to add jobs
February 3, 2012
April 27, 2010|By Jeff Weiner, Orlando Sentinel
Pallets aren’t exactly something most Central Floridians think about, even though two major pallet makers call Orlando their home.
Now, thanks to decision in March by city leaders, one of those companies is planning to add about 75 jobs over the next five years — welcome news in the region’s tough economic climate.
Intelligent Global Pooling Systems specializes in plastic pallets, a growing segment in an industry dominated by wooden varieties.
According to iGPS CEO Bob Moore, a longtime Central Florida-based entrepreneur, the company was considering a move of its headquarters to Dallas before it got $82,000 in tax breaks as part of the Qualified Targeted Industry program by the Orlando City Council.
Now, Moore calls that move “unlikely.”
“The funding from the city certainly helps,” Moore said.
For the uninitiated, pallets are flat, square platforms most food and consumer products ship on to retailers. For decades, the wood pallet has been the only real option for large-scale shipping.
The Qualified Targeted Industry program aims to lure expanding or relocating businesses that offer high-wage jobs in “targeted” industries — in laymen’s terms, industries in which the state is competing with other states to attract or keep businesses.
According to the resolution passed by the City Council on March 22, the city will provide as much as $82,500 in tax breaks over a five-year period, creating about 75 jobs at iGPS in the process. Moore said that these jobs would pay “above $50,000″ annually.
And Moore expressed confidence that, once created, these jobs wouldn’t be going away anytime soon.
“These are sustainable jobs,” Moore said. “This business is recession-proof.”
Orlando is also home to CHEP Equipment Pooling Systems, a major maker of wood pallets.
In the industry, iGPS, which opened its doors in 2006, is an upstart.
In the minutes from the March 22 meeting, the City Council cited the company’s “rapid consumer growth” as the reason for its expansion, and called iGPS pallets “a more lightweight, durable, environmentally responsible and cost effective alternative to the best wood pallet.”
The company attributes its current expansion to a growing number of companies it says are making the switch from wood to plastic. Moore contends that plastic pallets make moving food products safer.
“A wood pallet is organic, of course, and holds moisture, so it’s a real breeding grounds for pathogens,” Moore said.
However, wood-pallet manufacturers dispute that notion.
“There are studies … that show that the bacteria count is higher on plastic pallets, which I know is counterintuitive,” said Karen Wanamaker, vice president of the National Wooden Pallet and Container Association. “It seems like they should be cleaner, but they’re not.”
iGPS pallets have individualized serial numbers, using RFID technology. Designed to help customers track their shipments, the technology also allows iGPS to track its pallets: both where they’ve been and what they’ve carried.
Given the tracking number for a specific pallet, “I could tell you what was on that pallet since the day it was made,” Moore said
Moore said plastic pallets typically weigh about 30 pounds less than their wood counterparts.
As an iGPS customer was quick to point out, the less weight on a truck set aside for pallets, the more product the truck can carry.
“We’re able to start putting extra pallets of product on the truck,” said Paul Fleming of Martori Farms, an Arizona-based grower.
Jeff Weiner can be reached at email@example.com or 407-420-5447.