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Wood pallet maker shuts, site for sale

OBSERVER Photo by Gregory Bacon Great Lakes Specialties has closed its doors. The business is up for sale for any interested parties.

After more than 30 years in the business, a local plant that makes wood pallets and more has closed its doors.

Great Lakes Specialties, located on Route 60 in the town of Pomfret, is no longer open. The business shut down around the first of this month. The building and business is up for sale.

“I just got to the point where I couldn’t do it anymore,” said Mike Gloss, company owner and founder.

Gloss opened Great Lakes Specialties in 1987 in Brocton. He moved to the Route 60 location a few years after that. The business made custom pallets, skids and crates. They served businesses locally as well as across the United States.

“After I bought that place (on Route 60), we grew there quite a bit. At one point we got over $3 million in sales,” he said. “Last year we did about $1.2 (million).”

When he decided to close, Gloss had about nine employees, down from previous years. But even with the few he had, it was tough finding good people. “I used to have enough good guys to offset the bad ones. Not anymore. You can’t find good employees,” he said. “You can hire somebody and they’ll be there a day. … Others will be there two weeks to a month.”

Another challenge Gloss ran into is with all the regulations in the U.S. compared to other countries. “You’re not going to compete with China,” he said. “They can chain their employees there; we can’t do that.”

Finding good lumber and keeping customers were challenges as well. “Companies don’t want to keep a buyer for more than a year. … There’s no personal relationship anymore.”

Still, Gloss is proud of what he accomplished over his nearly 32 years. “I’m 63 years old. … There was a time that I loved it. All I was doing was buying lumber. I had five different departments.”

The community liked them as well. Great Lake Specialties would always put its srcap wood out front of the business. Vehicles would often stop by and collect the wood for campfires or other things. “We used to call them wood pirates, all those campers,” he said with a laugh.

If the right person comes along, Gloss thinks it could be a viable business once again. “We have a lot of equipment. It’s well maintained. People really wanted us to stay,” he said. “I’m willing to sell it all — the building, the business or both.”

The business is currently being marketed by Howard Hannah Holt Real Estate. It is listed for sale on their website for $490,000.

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