Realm, Inc. a Newton-based pallet manufacturer and wood-waste recycler, got its start in 1998 as a warehousing company. Soon thereafter, owner Chris Barton expanded his business model when he realized the warehousing stock – which arrived and was delivered on pallets – left his customers with a stockpile of pallets and his trucks coming home empty. By the year 2000, customers’ pallets were coming back to Newton to be repaired or recycled, and Realm, Inc. was established.
The company continues to provide warehousing and transportation services, along with its pallet and wood waste recycling, but over the years the business has evolved and expanded. In its early days, Realm relied heavily on Newton’s Maytag Corporation. Maytag was Realm’s biggest warehousing and wood-waste customer, so its closure in the mid-2000s led to big changes.
“We were vulnerable relying on that one customer,” Chris says, “but Maytag’s business helped us create a good foundation. When they closed we were able to build on that and launch a large expansion of our customer base.”
Realm’s customers are now spread across six Midwest states and come from the ag and industrial sectors as well as the appliance, housing and food industries. Across all sectors, the business model focuses on customers.
Realm offers just-in-time (JIT) delivery of inventory stock for its warehousing customers, then removes the customers’ wood waste. For non-warehousing customers, full pallets are dropped and wood waste is removed. In some cases, Realm is able to provide on-site wood waste recycling, a unique and time-saving service for the customer.
All of these services, which yield savings and efficiencies for customers, are possible because Realm now operates five strategically located facilities across the region. These locations, along with 60 employees and a fleet of trucks and trailers, enable the company to quickly serve a broad geographic area.
Thousands of pallets are remanufactured every day at Realm facilities. Off-spec or irreparably damaged pallets are ground into animal bedding, fuel or mulch — dyed various colors on site. Grinding systems like the one shown above are at three of Realm’s five locations.
When used pallets arrive at Realm facilities they’re sorted based on condition and a variety of specs and sizes. Barton’s goal is to increase the life of as many of the pallets as possible through repair or remanufacture. Over the years the number of reclaimed pallets has increased to “1000s each day,” according to Barton.
While Realm’s objective is to put as many pallets as possible back into use, those that don’t meet specs or are unrepairable are dismantled and ground into mulch, animal bedding or fuel – all of which is sold and delivered bulk, by the semi-load. High-tech grinding equipment ensures a quality product.
“There’s been a massive shift in interest in pallet recycling since 2000,” Chris explains. “At that time, lots of wood waste went to the landfill.” But the industry has changed; wooden pallets now have one of the highest recycling rates of all prevalent recyclable commodities, studies show.
In addition to the Iowa Recycling Association, Realm, Inc. is a member of the National Wooden Pallet and Container Association and are accredited to perform heat treatment of wood pallets for shipping outside the U.S.
1214 E 8th St N
Newton, IA 50208