Valorization, namely “enhancing the value”, refers to a process of changing residues (the by-products of a manufacturing processes— previously known as “waste”) into useful consumer products. These products can include quality chemicals, materials, fuels, and energy, as well as many other products beneficial to a local economy. Not surprisingly, valorization plays an integral part in recycling and reuse technologies. In addition, it requires technical knowledge and the desire to create a sustainable, environmentally friendly product.
Applying the valorization process to the task of creating pallets (portable platforms on which goods can be moved, stacked and stored), Damabois Corporation, with main offices in Saint- Damase-de-Matapedia, Quebec, and a leader in the processing of wood and its derivatives, is extending its products into the U.S. Firmly committed to using green energy and state-of-the-art manufacturing processes, Damabois recently purchased a plant in Keeseville, New York. Introducing D Pallet Shop.
BRINGING JOBS TOKEESEVILLE
D Pallet Shop, located at 49 Industrial Park, Keeseville, is the U.S. division of Damabois. Formed in August 2021 when Damabois purchased the building and grounds previously owned by Essex Box & Pallet, D Pallet Shop currently employs three people (Plant Manager Tony Olson and two others), with plans for expansion. Recently, Chief Sales Officer (CSO) Serge Brouillette gave me a tour of the new plant. As he explained, pallet components for standard size (48”x40”) wooden pallets are manufactured in Damabois’ Canadian facilities, and then shipped to the Keeseville plant for assembly. Unlike many companies that specialize in wood products, Damabois did not experience the shortages in wooden construction materials during the COVID-19 pandemic because it runs three sawmills on many acres of managed forests in northern Quebec. In addition, its commitment to sustainable manufacturing means it uses the
residue (wood chips, bark and sawdust) to create two more products: molded wooden pallets and energy logs. All of these products are available for sale in the U.S.
As we walked past stacks of pallets arranged both inside and outside the shop, Brouillette, who has been with Damabois for five years, shared his excitement in bringing jobs to the North Country as well as expanding Damabois products into the U.S. market. “Pallets are the power behind the supply chain and the backbone of any warehouse,” he said. “Since they are the primary interface of a unit load, they protect the product, absorb the stresses, hold the weight, and safeguard goods traveling through the supply chain. Damabois is the biggest manufacturer of pallets in Quebec.”
Many warehouses have reported a pallet shortage brought on, in part, by the scarcity of wood during the COVID-19 pandemic. A lack of pallets is a serious problem. It can literally shut down production. Brouillette assured me that did not happen to Damabois customers, and will not happen to D Pallet Shop customers.
A NATURAL FIT
With a background in construction and the ease with which he speaks both French and English, Brouillette describes himself as a “natural fit” for Damabois, and for this U.S. opportunity.
“Damabois is a great company that needs a sales strategy in the U.S. Since I’m a sales strategist, and they trust me to do my job well, it was a natural fit for me to work for them. Right now, our biggest challenge is to become known in the U.S. We want people to know that we’re more than this Keeseville plant. We are part of a much larger company that has the financial and environmental resources to supply customers with whatever they need.”
Even though the North Country and Quebec are close neighbors geographically, there are cultural difference that, once understood, will affect the marketing plan. “I am getting used to American culture,” said Brouillette who lives in Quebec and commutes to his job in the U.S.
Since its manufacturing process goes from timber harvesting in the forest all the way through marketing, Damabois has become skilled at innovating and enhancing the value of wood. Molded pallets, made from the residue of wood pallet manufacturing, are one of the results of this. Sawmill by-products are sent to Damabois’ thermoforming workshop where they are combined with a special resin. The end result is a beautifully formed pallet that takes up three times less space and weighs a third less than standard pallets with the same load-bearing capacity.
Unlike the standard wood pallet, molded pallets do not have to be fumigated for insects and need no repair during their lifespan. Their lighter weight means they can be used for international export (which sometimes requires airplane transport and therefore, weight limits). Most notably, molded pallets adhere to the specific requirements of various demanding business sectors, such as the food and pharmaceutical industries. The pallets can be handled with standard forklifts, and they replace the non-biodegradable plastic pallet.
“Molded pallets are a big thing for us,” explained Brouillette. “They are a sustainable solution for our customers and part of the valorization process. What I like most is they replace plastic. Wherever plastic can be used, we can mold a replacement out of wood residue from responsibly managed forests and offer a product that is durable and does not impact the planet.”
“We don’t just sell pallets,” emphasized Brouillette. “We are a leader in the wood processing and wood derivatives sector, and we hope to become integrated into the U.S. market and become part of the business community.”
In 2017, Damabois built a new cutting-edge facility at its industrial complex in Saint-Damase -de-Matapedia that has allowed it to “go green” in another significant way. They use the milling by-products (shavings, sawdust, etc.) to make a substitute for traditional firewood — slow-burning energy logs.
Their log is entirely eco-friendly, contains no additives and produces more heat and a better flame. It has been laboratory tested by independent experts. Sold in Canada under various brand names (Winwood, DamaFlamme, and Purelog), the logs are available in several well-known hardware chains. Brouillette hopes to partner with U.S. hardware chains, such as Lowes and Home Depot, to offer U.S. customers these energy logs.
The additive-free and compact energy logs generate up to 8,713 BTU of energy and provide four to ten hours of burn tine. One pallet of energy logs has the same heat value as three cords of densified wood. (After using these energy logs in my wood stove during a recent chilly, rainy evening, I can attest that they work wonderfully and provide ambience as well as heat. They are a lot less heavy than traditional logs and stack nicely.)
FUTURE PLANS IN KEESEVILLE
“We would like North Country businesses to get to know us,” said Brouillette. “We want to be part of this community and are willing to listen, learn and adapt. With regard to this Keeseville plant, we offer good jobs creating sustainable solutions. During the next year, our plan is to double the business on wood pallets and begin making inroads on sales of molded pallets. The energy logs are another promising component of our offerings.”
D Pallet’s delivery zone covers the Northeastern U.S. Understandably proud of its products and manufacturing process, D Pallet can accommodate the shipping and storage needs of most any business.
D Pallet Shop
49 Industrial Park
Keeseville, NY 12944
Web site: www.dpalletshop.com