Janesville59.1°

Company's approach cleanses the 'pallet'

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Kayla Bunge
November 14, 2007
— If a customer calls at 3 p.m. and needs custom pallets to ship an order the next morning, Charlie Scott doesn’t tell him it’s too late.

“It’s whatever the customer wants,” he said.


And it’s that attitude that led Wood Products Corp. to a record-setting month of sales in October. Customers who carry hundreds of thousands of dollars in sales potential are waiting in the wings.


But business wasn’t always this good.


Brothers Jerry and Tom Scott began Wood Products in 1969 as a small custom pallet business. When Jerry died in 1981, his sons Charlie and David took the helm—Charlie as president, and David as head of production.


The company moved into its current facility at 523 W. Madison Ave. in 1989.


Business was steady until 9/11 sent the company reeling.


“All manufacturing just kind of came to a halt,” Charlie said. “People stopped buying. (Customers) cut their buying way back because they just didn’t know where the economy was going.”


Custom Lumber bought out Wood Products in May 2004. By the end of summer, Charlie and David had left. They continued filling orders for custom pallets and shipping crates on their own on a very small scale.


“It’s pretty much all we’d done our whole life, and we knew there was a strong market for it,” Charlie said.


After Custom Lumber filed for bankruptcy in December 2004, a friend of the Scotts, Bob Hansen, started negotiating with the bank to buy the buildings. An entrepreneur himself and veteran of the freight industry, he had an interest in seeing the company back to its feet.


Wood Products moved back in July 2005, and by the end of the year, the company was up and running.


But it was the focus on quality, custom products and an emphasis on customer service that reinvigorated the once-shaky company.


“It seemed to me the industry itself was complacent,” Hansen said. “‘When we get it done, we’ll get it to you.’ Real laid back.”


That wasn’t good enough, he said, recalling his days in the trucking industry.


“If we didn’t deliver on time, we didn’t get the next load.”


Together the Scott brothers and Hansen, who serves as chairman, committed the company to standing out from the competition.


Wood Products employs more than three dozen people. One of its two buildings—which together total 60,000 square feet—is dedicated to manufacturing. The other is storage for a one-month supply of lumber—about 500,000 board feet.


Even with its continually growing customer base, however, the company is operating only at about 25 percent to 30 percent capacity, Charlie said.


“There’s a lot of room for growth, and it’s something we’re exploring every day,” he said.



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