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Passion for Pallet Recycling Leads to New Career and Interesting Project for Former Hockey Player
Slapshot: Professional hockey player puts up his skates to build a pallet recycling business in the Midwest. Jared Lowell turns pallet into creative display at Grateful Dead concert.
By Lisa Monroe
Date Posted: 10/1/2015
Professional hockey player puts up his skates to build a pallet recycling business in the Midwest. Jared Lowell turns pallet into creative display at Grateful Dead concert.
After successfully playing professional ice hockey in Europe for a year and landing a contract to play a second year in the first division in Sweden, Jared Lowell’s whole life direction changed during a summer break two years ago when pallet recycling sparked his interest.
Lowell had been playing hockey since age three, and he had enjoyed a successful college career with the University of Arizona Wildcats. Then he went on tour for a year in Europe, playing first in Germany, then Italy, Belgium, and finally Sweden, as he moved up the ranks to the first division. He’d played well enough to land a contract with Sweden in the upcoming year, but he wanted to spend the summer at home in Chicago before heading back to Europe. Lowell recalled, “I had a very good year and was ready to go back and that’s when I got into the pallet business.”
He remembers well the afternoon in the summer of 2013 when his passion for pallet recycling was first ignited. His dad had called him on the phone and asked him to come down to help out at the family business, a commercial recycling plant.
“They were taking some pallets from the plant and repairing them for the customers,” said Lowell, who decided that was something that he’d like to try himself.
“I did a lot of research and reading and started working 90 hours a week in a small little garage in back of the plant,” he explained. “I really had a passion for the pallet business and really got into it, and I made a decision that I’d rather start up and grow the pallet business than keep playing hockey.”
“Today we have a strong recycling operation and we manufacture new pallets as well,” Lowell said of Marcells Pallet Inc. Being in the Chicago area, the market is very competitive, but the business has an edge being that it works in conjunction with his family’s recycling business which offers paper, metal and plastic recycling.
“This full feature of recycling truly makes Marcells Pallet a one-stop shop with our primary focus on pallet and paper recycling,” he said.
Just 24-years old, Lowell says he really enjoys working in the pallet industry, and is also finding that it is bringing some interesting and creative work his way. In cooperation with Extreme Enterprises, Inc., Marcells Pallet recently helped to build a pop-up wood pallet pavilion at Soldier Field for a huge Grateful Dead Fare Thee Well concert held July 3-5.
Several months before the event, Lowell said he was contacted by Jason King who works for Red Star Merchandise, based out of Charlottesville, Virginia. “They are a Go Green company that sells merchandise at popular
venues,” stated Lowell, and they were planning to set up a shop at the three-day event for the Jerry Garcia Foundation. This is a newly formed non-profit organization honoring the late Grateful Dead singer, songwriter, and lead guitarist, to support meaningful causes through the beauty of art and music.
“Jason is very passionate and let me know Red Star was dedicating its shop to the memory of the late Jerry Garcia,” Lowell said. “His idea for using their tent space was to build an entire shop made of pallets.”
King wanted the shop constructed out of wood pallets because they are an eco-friendly, recyclable material that can be used for the building of various structures and allow for easy and speedy construction and dismantling, according to Lowell.
“It was a phone call out of the blue and I decided to run with it,” said Lowell, who’d never been involved in that type of project before, and believes it was not the type of opportunity that will come along very often.
It took three months to finalize the shop’s design and to get everything ready for the event, but in the end “it kind of all clicked together,” he stated. “Jason diagramed out the tent with what he wanted as I figured out how to use pallets to bring it to life.”
Marcells Pallet custom-manufactured the wood pallets, which were used in the making of the shop’s walls, shelves, displays, and counters, while Jake Elvebo of Extreme Enterprises, Inc. provided the manpower and logistics for the assembly.
One challenge was that the 60-foot by 20-foot shop had to be completely set up in a matter of hours prior to the event.
During the event, “there were lines outside of the store,” Lowell observed. “And everyone was asking whose shop it was and saying how interesting it was.”
He was very pleased with the way the shop looked in the end, and is thankful for being part of such a unique experience, even though he said it ended up taking up much more time than he expected.