What do cows, horses and the motor car have to do with a pallet manufacturer? Without them, HWP—a powerhouse in the field of pallet and wood-crate manufacturing—may never have come into existence.
Henry Edgar Robert Wheeler was a dairy farmer in Windsor, Quebec, as the Second World War was coming to an end. One day, the team of horses he was controlling panicked when one of the first motor vehicles in Windsor rattled by. Henry suffered a fall and serious injuries...so serious, in fact, that even after a long recovery, he was unable to resume dairy farming. With the future looking bleak, it was the Canada Paper Company that saved the day. They approached Henry and asked if he would make pallets for their Windsor factory, so they could deliver paper overseas.
And so, in 1945, Herwood was born.
By the mid-60s, the company had moved to larger premises, had become incorporated and was growing steadily. But towards the end of the decade, Henry Wheeler realized he was getting older, and he began to look to the next generation to take the reins of his growing company. In November 1970, Henry’s youngest son, Malcolm, agreed to buy into Herwood, purchasing 20% of the company’s shares. But before he could move back to Windsor and begin working in the company, disaster struck. In January 1971, fire broke out and the company burned to the ground. With no insurance and little in the way of collateral, the future again looked bleak. But with Henry agreeing to put his life insurance on the line, the Wheelers’ bank agreed to a loan of 60,000, so Herwood could be rebuilt. Now, with a loan to pay back and two generations of the family using the company as a means to live, Herwood had to grow, and grow quickly.
By the mid-70s, Herwood had grown considerably. The company had forged a lucrative relationship with the Canada Crate Company in St. Jean d’Iberville, was serving major clients such as Singer (sewing machines) and Consumer Glass, and supplying pallets and crates to industries as diverse as textiles and agriculture. In 1978, sales hit a record high, but it was also a year of great sadness, as Henry Wheeler passed away.
Herwood continued to grow throughout the 80s and 90’s, and at the cusp of a new millennium, the third generation of the Wheeler family—Shane and Jason joined the company.
Today, HWP is undergoing a third expansion in it’s storied history. The company is building new offices and purchasing new top-line kilns for the purpose of heat treating pallets to destroy parasites and larvae. HWP has also invested in new pallet-manufacturing machinery, and has completely restructured product flow through its purpose-built manufacturing plant. This ambitious expansion project will cement HWP’s position as a leading player in the pallet and wood-crate manufacturing industry for generations to come.