Over 100 Years of Service to the Fruit Growing Industry
In 1907, Sunkist Growers created Fruit Growers Supply, an agricultural supplier, to manufacture wood crates for their California-grown oranges. Over 100 years since, Fruit Growers Supply has grown to serve both Sunkist and the open market, helping fruit producers of all types market their products.
In the Supply Division of Fruit Growers Supply (FGS), the team still fulfills its original purpose of supplying FGS’ parent company, Sunkist, with pallets. Jim Williams is the Sales Manager for the Supply Division of Fruit Growers Supply. He worked on the production side of the business for decades in a Sunkist packing house. He started out working the floor of the packing house, then moved to the field as a representative before becoming a sales representative in the packing house and, now, the sales manager.
It’s not just Sunkist that the Supply Division serves, though. “We supply to our Sunkist packing houses, and open market business opportunities,” says Williams. “For all our customers, we look to see what their needs are, pallet-wise, and how we can provide the pallet they need at a competitive price. It could be for our customers in warehousing, or for another agricultural commodity like melons, berries, or pistachios.”
Developing the New, Premium Pallet
Sunkist had been using three different pallets for several years, for different domestic and international shipping needs. Recently, the Supply Division crafted an ideal pallet that has been experiencing runaway success.
“We’re moving Sunkist into a new direction,” says Williams. Previously, they had used multiple slightly different sizes of pallet for different shipping purposes. Now, everything will be a 48×40 inch pallet, which is the industry standard for all commodities. “That streamlines the production process and makes our pallet more universal,” says Williams.
It wasn’t easy creating this particular pallet, which FGS calls its “Premium Pallet.” “We’d been looking for ways to bring the price of our pallet down,” Williams explains. “We’ve been working on this project for about two years, trying to find the right configuration for a 48×40 pallet that would meet all our customers’ demands on the Sunkist side, as well as all our open market opportunities.” Without getting too far into the details of different configurations, know that using a 1x4inch piece of lumber versus a 1x6inch piece of lumber on the leading edge of the pallet makes a difference in pallet performance. Now, expand that and imagine that every side of the pallet can be configured with different sized or a different number of pieces of wood, and that impacts pallet performance.
Jim Williams describes the trial-and-error process of creating the premium pallet. “We had to go back to the drawing board numerous times, and then do extensive domestic tests before testing them with exports. Once all our tests were positive, we were able to accelerate the production of this pallet,” he explains.
Feedback for the pallet is overwhelmingly positive. “One customer tested it on the citrus side, and it performed better than a pallet that was made specifically for them,” says Williams. “We had another customer use this pallet all of last year, and it became their primary pallet. It’s very well tested on the open market.” Testing with a diversity of customers was important to determine the Premium Pallet’s ability to serve a broad spectrum of markets.
The Benefits of the Premium Pallet
From production to working hard for the customers, the Premium Pallet performs at a high level. “We have five different machines that build pallets here,” says Williams. “When we don’t have change different specifications in between pallets, we can be more cost effective and pass that savings along to our customers.”
The Premium Pallet takes less time to produce, on account of being a uniform size that doesn’t require resetting machines. It should cut down on waste in the process, too, because the pallet is made from conventional lumber. Specialty cuts can generate more waste, but the Premium Pallet is made from stock cuts. In addition, FGS can source materials from a wider variety of vendors.
Because the Premium Pallet can be non-treated for domestic shipping and heat-treated for exports, Sunkist doesn’t need to stock two different sizes or configurations of pallets. “A lot of our customers are limited in their storage,” says Williams. “The Premium Pallet removes one pallet from their inventory at the packing house, which saves them space.”
Success Starts in the Supply Division
“We’ve had zero failures with our new pallet,” Williams says. When pallets fail, it can damage products and result in lost time. Having a reliable, affordable pallet is critical for Sunkist and open market customers. “The quality is outstanding, and it has a competitive price point compared to other pallet manufacturers,” Williams states.
FGS is introducing the new pallet and transitioning Sunkist away from existing pallets starting September 1. Their inventory will be 100% the 48×40 pallet for both domestic and exports. Williams is excited for what comes next for this innovative pallet. “We’re already selling, and expanding to other customers,” he says. “There’s a lot of interest out there.”
For all your pallet needs
As a leading pallet manufacturer, we have many options of pallets available to you. From different materials to different sizes and wood types, pallets are as diverse as the companies that use them. We will work with you to ensure you get the pallet that matches your precise needs, whether you need a standard or custom-tailored solution. We also offer a Pallet Buy Back program. Contact us today for a free quote to get started.
Have any questions? We’re happy to help – stop in one of our supply stores today, or fill out our contact form by clicking below.