Pallets: The History of An Essential Part of Moving Everything Anywhere


We don’t give much thought to the lowly pallet, that piece of southern yellow pine that sits beneath every shipment in every truck and is what everything in every warehouse in the world is sitting on.

But today I read a long story about this important part of manufacturing, and how controversial and innovative the business is that produces, recycles, and repairs pallets is.

This long-form story about pallets was even considered one of the most important stories published in 2014!

Here is a snip of the story by Jacob Hodes that appeared in Cabinet.

“Since World War II, most of America’s pallet needs have been met by several thousand small and mid-sized businesses. These form the nucleus of not just an industry, but a sprawling, anarchic ecosystem—a world, really, complete with its own customs, language, and legends, with a political class, with its own media. This world is known as “whitewood.” There are approximately forty thousand citizens of whitewood, ranging from pallet pickers (who salvage pallets from the trash) to pallet recyclers (who repair broken pallets and make them whole) to pallet manufacturers, pallet consultants, pallet academics, pallet thieves, and pallet association presidents. Whitewood includes people who crisscross the country selling pallet repair machinery, preaching the gospel of tools such as the Rogers Un-Nailer.”