March-April 2018

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Policy at Play Rick Nolan Champions the Wood Pallet Industry in the Great Lakes 10 PalletCentral • March-April 2018 CAPITOL HILL CORNER C ongressman Rick Nolan, who represents Minnesota's sprawling 8th District, is a good friend to the wood pallet industry. Most notably, he happens to be a former pallet manufacturer and owner himself. He started his work in the business at an age much younger than most. As a kid in the 1950s, he had his big break into the industry when his father decided to build a cabin on Big Pelican Lake in northern Minnesota. A local saw mill operator took notice and offered to pay him a nickel for every wood pallet he made. Since that time, Nolan, 74, has owned and operated a wood pallet company in his home state as well as representing Minnesota in the state legislature and as a congressman. In February, Nolan announced that he will not seek reelection later this year. He is currently serving in his sixth nonconsecutive term after been elected to the House for the first time in 1974. He had a 32-year hiatus between his second and third-term stints in Congress. "To be sure, I'm really going to miss representing the 8th District," Nolan said in announcing his decision. "But it is time for me to spend more time with my wonderful wife, Mary, our fantastic four adult children and their terrific spouses, and our 13 remarkable grandchildren. They have been incredibly patient and supportive. Now it's time for me to respond in kind, and give them the attention they deserve and I want to give." When he wasn't in Congress, Nolan was the owner of Emily Wood Products, a small sawmill and wood pallet company in Emily in northern Minnesota. His daughter and son-in-law now run the business. His business experience also includes 25 years of international business experience generating jobs for Americans, selling American products and more. He's also planted more than 100,000 trees. "You think – how does a kid get in the sawmill and wood pallet business," Nolan said. "It was so good to us and our family. We made a nice successful business out of it. When I bought it, the company was headed to bankruptcy. We turned it around. And because they are younger and smarter (my daughter and son-in-law) have made it an even more successful business. They do a number of innovative things." One of those innovations, Nolan mentioned is, instead of paying for a garbage service to haul old pallets away, the company hauls them back in their empty trucks after a delivery. It's a recycling business where about one-third of the pallets are perfect as is, about one-third need repairing before reuse and the rest have the nails separated out and the wood ground up and the chips sent to a garden store. "The wood pallet industry, more than any other industry, is 100% recyclable," Nolan added. Nolan brought innovation to his wood pallet career as well as to his work in Congress. He has been a champion of forest management, trade deals, fair trade, and environmental standards as well as health and safety standards. Economic growth and job creation in the 8th District stand out in his tenure. "As a practical matter, everything gets moved on pallets," Nolan said. "I remind people that the health of the pallet industry is an early indicator of the health of the economy. If manufacturing is

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