Turning industrial trash into home furnishing treasures

Remi Gamache (left) and Keith Hamer with an example of the pallet furniture they make in their Oyama workshop.

THOMPSON-OKANAGAN - There's something quintessentially Canadian about taking an item like a lowly wooden pallet or a fruit packing box and making good use of it.

Keith Hamer and his crew take it one step further in an old fruit packing house in Oyama, creating a business to make new furniture out of old wood — at least when they are not putting together new pallets and fruit boxes themselves.

“That’s our primary business. The furniture building was a way to recycle old pallets. This is a high waste business with lots of stuff that goes to the landfill. We’re trying to reduce the landfill costs and the amount that’s going there,” Hamer says. “It also helps keep the guys busy when it gets slow."

Even though the humble wooden pallet is crucial for shipping just about everything, it doesn’t get much respect. That changes when Valley Pallet Plus production manager Remi Gamache takes a few beat up old pallets and changes them into rustic benches, tables, stools and wine racks.

And the more banged up the pallet, the better.

“That’s what people want, that well-used look,” Gamache says. “So it doesn’t matter if we take a nick out of it when we’re building it. It adds character."

Hamer says he twigged to the pallet furniture idea after visiting a woman who was building driftwood furniture. She told him people couldn’t get enough of her product.

“People want different items in their homes. These are unique B.C. items,” Hamer says.

He keeps minimal stock on hand, prefering instead to build just enough to fill anticipated orders or custom building the item to the customer’s specifications.

“Most people are asking for a certain size anyway. We find that orders are so specific, they want a custom stain or a logo, there’s no reason to keep a whole lot of one thing in stock.”

Image Credit: valleypalletplus.com

Image Credit: valleypalletplus.com

Image Credit: valleypalletplus.com

Image Credit: valleypalletplus.com

Image Credit: valleypalletplus.com

Image Credit: valleypalletplus.com

Image Credit: valleypalletplus.com

Image Credit: valleypalletplus.com

Image Credit: valleypalletplus.com

To contact the reporter for this story, email John McDonald at jmcdonald@infonews.ca or call 250-808-0143. To contact the editor, email mjones@infonews.ca or call 250-718-2724.


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