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Beyond the Pallet: Prime Woodcraft Grows Its Footprint, Connects the Dots for Recyclables
New Pallet Business Blueprint?: With strong growth, Prime Woodcraft believes it has found the key to servicing national pallet customers and is actively looking for partners that want to be part of its network. Innovative recycler relies on its own software as well as Palmate to pursue a data-driven business strategy.
By Chaille Brindley
Date Posted: 1/1/2017
New Pallet Business Blueprint?
With strong growth, Prime Woodcraft believes it has found the key to servicing national pallet customers and is actively looking for partners that want to be part of its network.
The pallet is just the beginning. It is the platform to revolutionize a customer’s entire supply chain according to Ansir Junaid, the CEO and founder of Prime Woodcraft Inc. Junaid and his team have grown Prime Woodcraft from a regional pallet and packaging player into a national provider of pallets, retail and industrial packaging, and third party logistics services. Junaid believes he has found the blueprint for the future of the pallet recycling industry, and he thinks he knows what the typical pallet provider needs to do to compete in the industry against big players.
But Junaid is not keeping his plan a secret. He wants to invite other pallet companies to join in on the effort. Junaid explained, “We want a national footprint very quickly, and we can’t do it alone.”
Junaid added, “Our model is a full-service pallet management company. We are looking for true partners where we can bring the supply to be converted into finished goods. That is how we connect the dots to serve customers together.”
Currently, Prime Woodcraft operates facilities in the Midwest, North East, Carolinas, Virginia, and California. It has developed relationships with partners in other strategic markets and is still looking for more alliances. Junaid commented, “Our company is growing at a rate of 30% per year. PWC is an industry leader because of these strategic relationships”
What Makes Prime Woodcraft Unique?
Prime Woodcraft’s main goal is to solve customers’ industrial packaging and logistics challenges. It is focused to serve retail and grocery chains on their supply chain and distribution center needs. Although 70% of the company’s sales is in pallets or related pallet services, the company aims to move towards a 50-50 split of logistics, industrial supply, and recycling. Recycling includes corrugated, plastics, banding and other waste stream products, as well as textile. The company intends to add e-scrap and glass related processing as well. In many cases, Prime Woodcraft acquires and sorts the material and then finds a domestic or international buyer. Junaid’s passion for the environment has made recycling and sustainability a key focus of the PWC group.
Junaid remembered, “We were the company in the 90s that started recycling for more than just pallets. We wanted to help manage all sorts of dunnage packaging at the back end of the retail supply chain.”
Everybody who uses pallets also has supply and disposal issues and PWC saw these as opportunities... Junaid explained, “The pallet is the first entry point for a lot of our customers. Furthermore, our services include pick and pack, transportation, warehousing, sourcing, retail, and industrial supply. We want to be a complete procurement department for our customers. This helps consolidate vendors. Our team provides on-site evaluation for each individual facility. Our work is not done there as we are constantly evaluating better solutions. We are a one stop shop with a national platform.”
For example, Little Tikes, a toy manufacturer, was originally a pallet customer. PWC started packaging for them and sold recycled shrink wrap back to them. Little Tikes used the materials to manufacture children’s toys. This resulted in a green strategy.
What makes Prime Woodcraft unique is the way the company sets up its new facilities. These facilities are state of
the art warehouses with ESFR sprinkler systems and dock doors. In addition, the facilities also serve as fulfillment centers for PWC’s packaging divisions such as SupplySide USA and PackagingSupplies.com.
PWC’s goal of providing value added products and services to its customer base led to the SupplySide USA and PackagingSupplies.com acquisitions. SupplySide USA sells to national moving and storage industry as well as the parcel and shipping store industry. SupplySide partners with Penske Truck Rentals, The UPS Stores, and others by creating direct-to-consumer syndicated websites and fulfillment centers. PackagingSupplies.com broadened PWC’s product offering as well as serve PWC’s customer base for its industrial packaging needs.
PackagingSupplies.com is an online distributor that focuses on industrial packaging with over 10,000 SKU’s. It serves businesses of all sizes with products including shipping boxes, packing tape, shrink wrap, bubble wrap, etc.
Now the network of pallet recycling partners can also benefit out of PWC’s broad range of products and services which includes branded e-commerce websites. This allows pallet recyclers to offer packaging supplies to its customer base.
Prime Woodcraft likes to open up dedicated facilities near one or two key strategic customers and then work that region strategically. Junaid explained, “We currently serve ten distribution centers for a national customer with more than one service. We consolidated their vendor pool from 40 to 1. And we provide online data reporting for multiple services they need. We will even put labor on site to manage these functions if necessary.” PWC setup a 125,000sf dedicated facility for a national grocery chain that manages pallets and dunnage. Their stores are also dropping dunnage directly at that facility.
Data Equals Validation and Trustworthiness
Prime Woodcraft has been working to fine tune its network and processes to be a one-stop shop. A key to its strategy is managing the data as well as the recyclables.
Junaid confessed, “Integrity and data is critical in this business. Anything to do with recycling is viewed as an insignificant business by some customers.”
This reputation gap can create problems when everyone struggles to calculate market costs and validate counts of recyclables. Junaid said, “If you are a business that has some integrity and data to provide the customer, you can help the customer solve these challenges and become a national player in the process.”
Prime Woodcraft uses the Palmate ™ enterprise resource planning software for its own inventory and production process. PWC uses Palmate to accurately track inventory, inbound and outbound sales, invoicing, and trailer tracking. PWC has gone beyond Palmate™ to develop customer tracking and usage portals that help them better see what is going on with their packaging waste stream. The company invested in a web based program that accumulates and reports outbound volumes and credits to provide clients with monthly reports of all activity across many facilities.
These tools are available to Prime Woodcraft partners. From strategic acquisitions to key alliances, Prime Woodcraft is rolling out its program in more locations. Junaid commented, “We have to work together now to service customers. It used to be that everybody had their own region. With customers going national now in wanting larger contracts, strategically you have to work in a network with partners.”
The reason this is so important is that you can’t run an effective business based on recyclables without regular supply points. Junaid said, “In the recycling sector, supply is everything. We look at our partners and customers and try to connect the dots between them while building up our own facilities as well.”
International Business Origins
Junaid is different than many of his peers in the U.S. pallet sector. First, he came to this country from London in 1988 as a student and worked in packaging and procurement in the corporate world for Pepsi, Coke, and the National Solvent Corp. His background in international business has aided him in developing contacts for recyclables in international markets.
Reviewing his background, Junaid said, “I learned a lot about back-end logistics from working at National Solvent Corp. We manufactured paint removers and wood stains. Our products were sold directly to 2,800 K-Mart stores. There was no distribution center and JIT concept at that time. I saw big box stores adopting the model of distribution centers”.
Also, connections with the Amish when he was at the National Solvent Company introduced Junaid to the world of pallets. And the rest was history as he went out on his own to start his own packaging company with the hope of providing more recycling services and products to big box retailers. He remembered, “Every time I went around, I would see new stores popping up and having back end problems of managing wood, plastic and other distribution waste.”
Even though Junaid has invested in a number of different sectors through the years as his pallet business grew, he would always come back to pallets. He stated, “I love the pallet industry and supply chain because we see a huge potential to provide creative solutions to our customers. This is a fragmented industry and I only see a handful of national service providers to fill this void.”
One key difference for Prime Woodcraft is its investment in facilities and locations. Junaid explained, “We are not just a broker; we are an asset-based business. We think we can help our customers better if we have facilities that we manage and control.” PWC group has a diversified portfolio of companies including pallets, packaging, real estate, hotels, cell phones, and call centers. Junaid believes, “Sales gets it, infrastructure keeps it”.
Your Brand Matters
From visiting the company’s website (www.primewoodcraft.com) to hearing the sales pitch, the focus is on the customer and opportunities to turn waste streams into revenue. And Prime Woodcraft is investing in its message and branding.
One of the problems in the pallet industry is that there are very few brand names. Junaid questioned, “If you don’t have a strong brand name and presence, how do you grow your business? Pallet companies don’t really have many brand names out there. That is something missing in this market.”
Additionally, Junaid thinks that the industry is evolving with customers going direct to consumer. This means more aggressive marketing strategies and brand awareness. Junaid feels that internet strategies will be very important.
Many people think of pallets as a commodity based business. But even if you are talking about recycling and back end services you need to have some kind of branding because those who are making the supplier decisions are people at the end of the day. People tend to buy and work with brands that they know and trust. Even though they are looking at numbers, they are still people, and a powerful brand can impact buying behavior and a customer’s impression. PWC believes strongly in investing in people, technology, solutions, and infrastructure as a cornerstone of its success.
Junaid said his company recently won a national account with 15 plants that had different pallet and packaging specs. Junaid added “Our sales executives visited every facility and performed an onsite evaluation. We then redesigned and standardized all the new and used pallet specs to reduce cost for our customer.”.
Greg, Regional Director for Prime Woodcraft, summarized, “We are a one stop shop for the customer. We can provide multiple services with the customer making only one phone call. And that really differentiates us in the marketplace.”
For more information on Prime Woodcraft, please visit www.primewoodcraft.com or call 216-738-2222.