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Western Pallet Association Annual Meeting
Like Napa Valley Wine, Association Improves with Age
Date Posted: 6/4/2002
Napa Valley Ca.—This year’s annual Western Pallet Association meeting was an excellent event. Held in Napa Valley California, the meeting was a good mix of business and pleasure.
The meeting was well attended, especially considering the time of year. Originally scheduled for Mexico in January, the meeting was postponed because of logistics problems due to an array of complications brought on by the September 11 attacks.
The spring can be a very busy time of year for western pallet manufacturers and recyclers. Therefore, the strong turnout for the meeting appears to be an omen of good things to come for the suddenly revived association.
The level of enthusiasm was quite high from the start. The WPA has long been known as a terrific association, particularly from a social programs viewpoint. Since the hiring of Dave Sweitzer, the WPA has been far more business focused. All of the fun social aspects of the WPA are still in place, but it is clearly evident that the association is focusing on maturing as an sociation. The essence of the association’s goals are centered on growth and professionalism.
This newfound focus is the result of new blood in leadership positions, throughout the Board of Directors. The new leadership has rejuvenated the WPA.
WPA activities got under way Saturday morning with a round of golf at The Vineyards Course of Chardonnay Golf Club.
Saturday evening’s activities included a winery tour and dinner at the Pine Ridge Winery.
Official business got under way Sunday morning when President John Mason called the board of directors’ meeting to order. Usual board meeting details such as reading of minutes, treasurer’s report, etc. were dealt with. The portion that stood out during this session was the membership report. Jeff Calavan reported eighteen new members. This is astounding growth for a regional association. The new membership far surpassed the association’s membership goal for the year.
Nominations for board positions were held during the Sunday board meeting. Board members present included President John Mason (Commercial Box and Pallet), Vice-president Pat Sherry (NEPA Pallet), Immediate Past President Tom Thayer (United Wholesale Lumber) as well as Jay Brickell (Viking), Jeff Calavan (Northwest Hardwoods), Ian Carter (North American Industrial), Jim Rickey (Tree Island Industries), David St. John (New Mexico Products), Greg Vipond (Girard Wood Products) and Executive Vice President Dave Sweitzer.
The follow-up elections were held in Tuesday morning’s meeting. Pat Sherry was elected President, Gary Crane vice-president and Greg Vipond Secretary/Treasurer. Tom Thayer was elected to a three-year term on the board, while Jeff Calavan, Ian Carter, Mark Garnett and Jim Rickey were each elected to one year terms.
After another golf outing Sunday afternoon, everyone gathered for a reception and dinner. As people began taking their seats, everyone discovered a crisp one dollar bill at each seat. Living up to their reputation of being the fun loving crowd, many suspected that the dollars were there for liars’ poker. Instead, John gave an interesting presentation on the meanings of all the symbolism on a U.S. dollar. The reception before and the time after the dinner provided attendees the opportunity to meet, greet, mingle and network.
After breakfast Monday, the meeting’s program of speakers got underway. Casey Dean, the Director of Western Operations for Timber Products Inspection, Inc. spoke on export regulations. Casey’s presentation started with a basic overview of the HT and bug stamp issues. The presentation was intentionally brief to allow for a question and answer session that was nothing short of riveting. Casey’s knowledge of all aspects of the export situation made for a very engaging session.
Jim Whiteside, of Vandermeer Forest Products Ltd. was the second speaker of the day. Jim’s presentation provided a Canadian’s prospective of the U.S./Canadian lumber situation. The presentation brought to light many details of how the trade restrictions have trapped most economy lumber north of the border and the impact on the Canadian economy. Also part of Jim’s presentation were details about pricing of Canadian timber sales.
Incoming President Pat Sherry of NEPA Pallet rounded out the speakers program for Monday. Pat’s presentation "Wooden Pallets and Containers – Marketing a Positive Image" presented in detail the benefits of the NWPCA’s "Deliver the Goods" marketing program. Deliver the Goods is an innovative program. NWPCA markets pallets through other Associations whose members use pallets.
The meeting then moved back to the golf course for lunch and a golf tournament. Chardonnay Golf Club was again the host club, but this time the players took to the club’s Shakespear Course.
Monday evening’s dinner turned out to be quite the festive occasion. After completing the meal, the focus turned back to the golf tournament and awards were presented.
For those keeping score: The tournament was a handicap event. The winning foursome was John Mason, Tom Thayer, Tye Winsor (Metolius Forest Products) and Mark Garnett. The second place foursome was Dianne Garnett , Belinda Thayer, Donna Mason and Joyce Vipond.
Other golf awards included: Long Drive (front nine) – Rick Geist (Metolius Forest Products); Long Drive (back nine) – Rick Geist; Closest to the pin – Tom Thayer. The day’s best shot award was presented to Jay Brickell (Viking Engineering).
Jay’s group clearly stole the show at the awards ceremony. Rajinder Brar (Advance Lumber), Dave Dhillon (D&D Pallets) and Jay brought quite a bit of humor to the festivities. They did so in good natured spirit at their own expense. The group had clearly kept their sense of humor throughout the day despite a myriad of minor adversities.
The outing started off on the wrong foot when Dave, needing to buy pants couldn’t find anything that fit, without stripping the Pro Shop’s mannequin. The humor high point of the afternoon came when a search party was sent to retrieve the group off the golf course. Rajinder explained it this way, "We weren’t lost. We were taking a victory lap!"
Jeff McBee was the only speaker for the Tuesday morning session. Jeff’s presentation on the future of the pallet industry focused on the obstacles facing the industry in the future. Jeff focused on how customers drive change in the pallet industry, even when in many cases customers are not qualified to do so.
The presentation encouraged the pallet community to make themselves more valuable by saving the customer money through their packaging knowledge, instead of letting the customer attempt to save money by cutting price.
Jeff also covered reverse auctions in the presentation. He presented examples of how other industries have struggled with auctions. Jeff presented strategies of dealing with these auctions.
Overall the Western Pallet Association Annual Meeting provided something for everyone: a solid program of speakers, plenty of entertaining activities, and friendly and productive networking activities.