For over 30 years the leading pallet and sawmill magazine in America.
Indiana Pallet Recycler Keeps Focus on Being ‘Customer Driven’
Terry Products Relies on Econotool for Notching Cutter Heads
By Diane Calabrese
Date Posted: 2/2/2005
TIPTON, Indiana---“Everything we do is customer driven,” said Bill Barger, president of Terry Products, a pallet supplier that also makes custom crates. The company’s main business is repairing, manufacturing and remanufacturing of pallets. Terry Products also manufactures wood packaging and crating products for shipping.
The focus on the customer guides the direction of Terry Products. Bill strives to tailor his company’s products and services to the needs of the businesses he serves.
As a consequence, soon after Bill purchased Terry Products in 1999, he added notching capability in order to produce notched stringers that are in strong demand. Notching is a “value-added process,” he said.
To add notching capability, Bill invested in a Visionary Machine Concepts EN-09 machine. The machine has one cutting head and can notch two stringers at one time. Split-type cutter segments, ½-inch in width, can be added or removed without having to take out the shaft. The machine allows for up to 12-inch-wide notches. However, Terry Products makes the 9-inch-wide industry standard notch for most customers.
In early 2001 Bill chose Pennsylvania-based Econotool to supply the cutter heads for the notching machine. “An ad in Pallet Enterprise attracted me to Econotool,” he said. The supplier was responsive, and Andy Middleton, the owner of Econotool, “was willing to work with me.”
Bill was looking for something very specific in cutting technology. He wanted Econotool’s nail cutting grade Shark Teeth™ carbide inserts, which are used primarily to cut through recycled boards that have nails.
Bill was satisfied that Andy understood his requirements and could meet them. Econotool supplies Terry Products with round and two-sided square cutting tools. Although Econotool’s cutters have four-sided inserts as standard, Bill was convinced that two-sided tools would be more economical. He figured that whether there were two cutting surfaces or four, each insert had roughly the same probability of wearing out one of its surfaces and needing replacement. Nails could be hit any time and any place. Econotool was able to supply Terry Products with the two-sided inserts that Bill wanted without having to change the entire cutter head design.
Econotool notching cutter heads are designed and manufactured with cutter segments that are interchangeable and bolted one onto the next. Hardened end cutter nests are bolted onto the radius cutter segment, making it easier to maintain the cutters while reducing replacement cost and down time.
Customer demand dictates how many stringers are notched at Terry Products as well as how many pallets are produced and what sizes and footprints. The company produces pallets ranging in size from 30-inch squares to 78x48, including a sizeable volume of GMA pallets.
Terry Products buys pre-cut pallet stock from sawmills within its region. The company normally buys mixed hardwood cut stock for manufacturing new pallets and repair stock for some pallets.
Terry Products employs nine people, and the company has two buildings comprising about 60,000 square feet.
In the company’s recycling operations, pallet sorting, dismantling and repair activities are arranged in a U-shaped plant layout. This design allows for incoming pallets and outgoing pallets to be staged at the same side of the building, which makes it more efficient to load and unload trucks.
Used pallets to be processed are moved to one of three dismantling areas. At a dismantling station, workers sort the pallets. They inspect the pallet and decide if it can be re-sold as is, should be repaired or simply disassembled to recover used lumber.
The company is equipped with three dismantlers -- two Smart Products bandsaw machines and an Industrial Resources Pass One disc-type dismantler. Two workers normally operate the bandsaw machines and one operates the Pass One. Bill purchased all three machines shortly after he bought the company. Terry Products also has a Smart Products trim saw to cut recycled lumber to length.
Stringers are notched as needed to fill orders for pallets. Terry Products uses an Econotool notching cutter head that cuts a ½-inch radius notch.
The type of stringer and the species of wood determine how long the carbide tips can be used, noted Bill. Another factor, of course, is whether the notching machine is running new lumber or used lumber with nail fragments.
Bill used to keep track of how many notches or stringers he could cut before he would have to change the heads. Now he relies more on the type of wood and appearance of the notch to determine when to replace the carbide inserts.
Econotool manufactures its entire product line and fully grinds the carbide inserts with state-of-the-art machinery. The company makes cutting tools for both the new and recycled wooden pallet industry, including cant sizers, board sizers, chamfer cutters, disc-type pallet disassembly blades, and circular saw blades. Resharpening of inserts is done on-site. The inserts are measured and then color coded by size for a uniform approach.
Econotool supplies notcher cutters that can cut ½-inch and 1-1/2-inch radiuses. The company also manufactures a range of other wood-cutting tools, including cant sizer and planer heads, chamfer cutters and pallet disassembly blades. Besides re-sharpening carbide inserts for notchers, Econotool also sharpens and re-tips chamfer inserts.
Terry Products relies on Stanley-Bostitch power nailing tools and collated nails to repair and assemble pallets by hand. The company has 12 work stations devoted to repairing and assembling pallets.
Workers at repair stations inspect pallets again, and finished pallets are marked to identify the person who made the repairs.
The company’s wood waste is supplied to a business that grinds it into mulch, and Terry Products sells sawdust for animal bedding.
Terry Products uses a local company to re-sharpen and re-tip circular saw blades for the Smart Products trim saw.
Like other pallet suppliers with recycling operations, Terry Products provides pallet exchange services for customers. The company owns trailers and uses a contract hauler to pick up trailers at customer locations that have been filled with used pallets.
Customers of Terry Products include automotive parts distributors, food distribution centers, ‘big box’ retailers and plating companies. Most are within a 100-mile radius of Tipton, Ind., a town of about 5,000 people located some 40 miles north of the state capital, Indianapolis.
Bill is a native of Ohio and graduated from Ohio Northern University. He studied mechanical engineering and then worked for 20 years designing processing equipment. Bill worked in both the public and private sectors before buying a business. He had no specific experience in the wood products industry when he and Marian acquired Terry Products, although he had owned another company.
His knowledge of machinery and manufacturing processes is valuable in evaluating the machinery and equipment needs of Terry Products. Next to product quality, what Bill considers the most important in choosing a supplier is service.
Econotool delivers what Bill expects. “They give me exceptional service and technical support,” he said. “They usually respond with shipment the same day if I order by noon.”
More than that, said Bill, he finds the representatives of Econotool a pleasure to work with. “They’re really nice people,” he said, and singled out Andy for special mention. Every company representative has over 20 years of Econotool experience.
Bill has been able to put his expertise in mechanical engineering to good use in a number of different ways, carefully analyzing what is the most cost-effective equipment for his company. A good example is the way he evaluated the efficacy of two-sided carbide inserts from Econotool versus the four-sided inserts when hitting nails.
Bill figured that his first goal was to be able to routinely switch between pre-cut stock and recycled lumber. Regardless of whether a carbide insert had two or four cutting surfaces, each insert had roughly the same probability of wearing out one of its surfaces and requiring replacement. He concluded that a two-sided cutting tool would be more economical.
In the case of notching new stringers, Andy maintains that four-sided inserts are the way to go. In the worst case scenario, customers get at least two sides of cutting; if they are rotated on schedule, customers will achieve three to four sides of cutting.
Indiana is a state with a strong history of entrepreneurial spirit. It has quietly produced milestones in industry and invention. For example, the first city in America to be lighted with electricity was Wabash, Ind. And despite the tug-of-war between Ohio and North Carolina over bragging rights on Wilbur Wright, the well-known pilot was born in Millville, Ind. in 1867.
Bill is a member of Kiwanis, and when he takes time away from his business, he likes to read, enjoy his pontoon boat, and snow ski.
After more than five years at the helm of Terry Products, Bill enjoys the opportunity the company gives him to be involved in recycling. His company’s operations benefit the environment because, among other things, they divert used pallets and lumber from landfills. “It’s a ‘green’ business,” he said.