The National Wood Pallet and Container Association hosted its Annual Leadership Conference and Exposition in Orlando, Florida this year. At the conference, Nelson Company was recognized for its 50th year of membership with the NWPCA in front of a record-setting number of attendees and top industry representatives.
David describes the conference and what the award means to Nelson.
Can you tell us about the NWPCA’s Annual Leadership Conference?
Owners and leaders of pallet, lumber, machinery and other industry companies convened in Orlando for four days to share ideas, challenges and fellowship all relative to the wood packaging world.
The association represents our collective needs for dealing with regulatory groups and the government. They also assist with marketing the industry to our customers and consumers.
A lot of what the NWPCA does is to challenge the false belief that wood pallets and the lumber industry are bad for the environment. They provide information for us to share with our customers and also publish information directly.
One interesting fact we learned is that there is 119% more standing timber in North America than there was in 1950.
Most people believe that our industry kills trees to make pallets. This is not true. Like any other crops, trees are harvested. For every tree cut down, two more are planted. Last year alone, 4.3 trees were planted for each person living in the United States. Trees are not cut down to make pallets. Pallet lumber is a byproduct of lumber harvested for building houses and furniture. Lumber that is sound but not “pretty enough” for those products is used for pallets.
Has Nelson ever been honored at this conference before?
If my math is correct, 25 years ago we were recognized for our 25th anniversary.
What does it mean to be a member of the NWPCA for 50 years?
Nelson Company has been around for a long, long time. In fact, we've been around longer than the pallet industry itself so it is truly a unique honor to be recognized for 50 years of membership.
The wood pallet industry did not start until the invention of the lift truck during WWII. Before pallets, The Nelson Company specialized in wooden boxes and crates for the steel industry (which recently suffered a long and painful death in the state of Maryland). Because of our innovative nature, Nelson diversified over the years and we plan to continue to adapt and thrive for many more years.
The Nelson Company has looked ahead and planned for changes in our industry. Thirty years ago, The Nelson Company was smart enough to realize that a lot of products are robust enough to withstand multiple uses and should be retrieved and recycled.
Reverse distribution saves our customers money and reduces the disposal burden placed upon their customers and the environment.
In the beginning, Nelson had to prove to our customers that returnable programs could work. That model is now an industry norm and Nelson is a leader in this practice.
Looking forward, we now fill a void created by larger companies who are cutting costs by no longer employing packaging engineers and packaging departments. Our new Nelson Technical Center allows us to provide those services to companies who no longer have their own packaging experts. Led by John Clarke and Kent Longardner, we expect big success in the future from the Nelson Technical Center.
Besides Nelson’s recognition, what was your favorite part about this conference?
After attending various conferences over the years, I have met many interesting and talented people from all over the country and sometimes from around the world. Nelson partners with many of the companies these people own or represent.
There is no better venue for this type of networking than the NWPCA Conference.
The conference is not all work, all the time. Each year I look forward to catching up with the people I have met over the years. Some people are business associates and others are just friends who understand the unique business we have chosen. It is fun to hear about their families and to watch their kids grow up. Nelson’s Vice President Rich Reiher also attended the conference this year. It gave us some time to discuss business in a more relaxed atmosphere and some time to just relax and not discuss business at all.
Interview with: David Caltrider, President of the Nelson Company