2006-08-11 CHEP's new rival looks familiar
Orlando is becoming the epicenter of the pallet-pooling business, an arcane activity that generates $14.5 billion in worldwide revenue each year.
Two former executives of Orlando-based CHEP, the world's largest pallet-pooling company, have started iGPS Company LLC, with headquarters at Regions Plaza in downtown Orlando.
CHEP, part of an Australian-based conglomerate, has been headquartered in Orlando since 1996 and operates its global operations from offices in Orlando Central Park.
Bob Moore, CHEP's former chief executive officer, is CEO of iGPS, which was launched in March after three years of planning. Rex Lowe, another former CHEP executive, has joined the venture as president.
Pallet pooling is the business of supplying and tracking the wooden or plastic platforms used to ship products between manufacturers, warehouses and retail outlets such as Home Depot stores.
Moore said that about 10 people currently work in his new company's downtown headquarters, but he expects the staff there to grow to 50 or 60 over time.
He said iGPS, which stands for Intelligent Global Pooling Systems, will use only plastic pallets embedded not only with bar codes but also with computer chips that tie each pallet into a newer tracking technology known as RFID, or radio frequency identification.
Most of those in the pallet-pooling business use heavier, wooden pallets, according to Moore. He said iGPS is wrapping up distribution tests in Texas to verify the strength of its plastic pallets and the RFID technology.
"Everything is going very well," Moore said, adding that the company will start operations once the trials conclude by early next month. The company's intent is to operate worldwide, focusing first on the United States before expanding to Canada, South America and Europe.
Moore acknowledged that his former employer is a "formidable competitor. They know the business, but the opportunity is huge. There's room for us."
CHEP, the industry's largest operator, has $2.5 billion, or about 17 percent, of the annual worldwide market, according to Moore. It manages more than 265 million pallets and containers with a global network of more than 440 service centers in 42 countries.
Moore said iGPS will outsource all logistics, including the tracking, collecting and redistribution of pallets, to Miami-based Ryder System Inc. That 15-year deal was concluded this month, he said.
At this point, iGPS has four offices: the Orlando headquarters plus operations in Dallas; New York; and Greenwich, Conn.
Jack Snyder can be reached at 407-420-5094 or email@example.com.