FMA Communications Inc.
2135 Point Blvd.
Elgin, IL 60123
President & CEO,
FMA Communications Inc.:
Group Publisher: Dave Brambert
Editor-in-Chief: Dan Davis,
Senior Editor: Tim Heston,
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The WELDER Editor:
Contributing Editor: Amy Nickel
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Statement of Policy
As the o;icial publication of the Fabricators & Manufacturers Association, International, The
FABRICATOR recognizes the need and importance of disseminating information about modern
metal forming and fabricating techniques, machinery, tooling and management concepts for
the metal fabricator. The policy of the publisher and this journal is to be nonpartisan, favoring
no one product or company. The representations of fact and opinions expressed in the articles
are those of the author and are not necessarily endorsed by the publisher and this journal.
By including information on new products, new literature, news of the industry, articles, etc.,
this impartiality is strived for and extends to the mention of trade names. Unless product
identification makes the reference unavoidable, the generic name is used. We acknowledge
that on occasion there may be oversights and errors; the editors regret such oversights and
re-emphasize their policy to be impartial at all times. The publisher reserves the right to
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for classes of products and services not considered of significant interest to the readership.
“ The FABRICATOR” is a service mark and a trademark of the Fabricators & Manufacturers
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advertising dollars spent. Editorial is free-of-charge, subject to space availability, and open to
all interested parties that submit items meeting our editorial style and format as determined
by the publisher. Note: Some photographs printed in this publication may be taken with safety
equipment removed for photographic purposes. However, in actual operation, it is recommended that correct safety procedures and equipment be utilized.
By Nick Martin
Editor’s Note: This post originally appeared on thefabricator.com blog on Sept. 26.
You can’t always judge a book by its cover. I o;en say this when people ask about our shop, and that is probably the case for a lot of small fab- rication shops. It is a phrase that I didn’t like at first, but I have grown to
appreciate what our shop looks like versus what we are capable of producing.
When you pull up to the shop, you are o;en greeted by a yard full of material, carts, and pallets. Most of this stu; is temporarily stored outside so that we
have a little extra room inside during the normal workday. When metal is used
or stored in the racks, the pallets make their way back outside and o;en are
stacked in a semiorganized order based on what may be worth reusing. I say
that lightly, because many times the guy driving the forkli; is probably the laser
operator or anyone else who has something far more important to worry about
than where he stacks the spent pallet.
Our pallets typically are in lengths of 8 and 10 feet—normal for deliveries
from a steel supply house. The problem is, what in the heck do we do with all of
them? When you are busy, the last thing you want to worry about is getting rid
In the past we would set the broken or flimsy ones o; to the side for the locals. They would come and take them, with permission of course, and use them
for firewood. I don’t know if people have gotten lazier or if they just don’t want
Another way we managed to lower the stack was to give them back to truck
drivers. I’ve heard they get a few bucks for the pallets from the warehouse, but
I don’t know how much truth there is to that. There may be some, but most of
these guys are worried about finishing up their route in time instead of picking
up our “trash.” If it were me, I would carry a stack home every chance I could. I’m
always down for a few extra bucks.
Needless to say, a;er a while the pallet piles can get out of hand. When you let
things pile up around your house or business, it starts to look bad. We all were
getting tired of looking at these pallets, so we needed to make a change.
I heard a commercial on the radio recently about a company that hauls away
your stu; for a small fee. I took the initiative and looked them up for some pallet removal, but they didn’t service our area. A;er some more searching on the
internet I stumbled across a website called Thumbtack.com. It looked like a
straightforward deal so I followed through with a request for quote to remove
all of our pallets.
From the website I picked a picture of a truck that I thought was feasible to
use and said it would take two to three trips to complete the job. I should have
provided a picture of our pallet piles, but I didn’t. Maybe I was the lazy one. I was
to receive a quote within 24 hours and then go from there.
The next day I got a quote for less than what I thought it would be, so I told
them they had the job. I also told them we would use our forkli; to make the job
easier and quicker. They said they would be at the shop in a couple days to haul
away our mess.
I had a couple of the guys organize all of the loose boards and clean up the
yard a bit. An individual from the company that was awarded the job came with
a long trailer and immediately got to work. A;er he returned for the second
load, I went out and talked to him some more. He told me there were a lot more
pallets than in the photo he saw. I was a little confused and asked him, “What
picture?” He said that Google Maps had a picture, but there weren’t as many
pallets in it as there were now. I held in my laughter and showed him around the
shop for a few minutes.
My dad and I talked about his quote and knew we needed to do something to
make this right, so we basically doubled the amount of the original quote. The
hauler approved and said that he would be more than happy to remove them
anytime, but not to wait as long on the next go-round.
When we asked him what he was going to do with all these pallets, he said he
was going to make some deer stands with the good ones. “They fall apart a;er
a few years, but by then it’s time to move to the next hunting location anyway.”
As for the bad ones, they were going to be used to make a “killer bonfire.” I got a
kick out of that. It sounded like a good time!
When he was finished, we had a clean yard. The next day it was refreshing to
pull up to the shop and not see several walls of ugly pallets taking over the yard.
As stupid as it may sound, something as simple as this is o;en overlooked in
many shops. When you get busy, occasionally you should outsource the simple
stu;. We did, and it gave our guys a little relief.
Nick Martin is a product designer, Barnes MetalCra;ers Inc., www.barnesmetal.com.
Read more from Nick Martin at www.thefabricator.com/author/nick-martin
clean up eyesores