Lifting Lady Liberty – inside the Patriotic Pallet Project world record

Donna Waldrep -
Forklift Diaries
- 1 Dec 2022 ( #1105 )
5 min read
The Carolina Handling team in front of the finshed 50x50-pallet painting.
The Carolina Handling team in front of the finshed 50x50-pallet painting.

The team at Carolina Handling wanted a unique project, something grand enough to get the attention of those outside the materials handling industry. One that might set a world record and raise awareness about careers in the industry and the culture of the company. Cue the Patriotic Pallet Project, a 50x50-pallet painting of Lady Liberty. Director of Marketing Donna Waldrep takes us behind the scenes.

We know that what we do every day is not super exciting to those outside the industry. But we felt if we could come up with something large enough in scale for people who don’t work in materials handling to take notice, then we could generate excitement about jobs in materials handling and careers at Carolina Handling.

Final drone image
Final drone image

The humble pallet is a key part of Carolina Handling’s history. In 1939, George Raymond Sr., founder of The Raymond Corporation, was granted patents for the double-faced wooden pallet and the hydraulic hand pallet truck, revolutionising the materials handling industry.

In addition, Carolina Handling is a military-minded organisation where 13% of associates served in the US Armed Forces and where veterans’ services are a focus area of the company’s philanthropic giving. 

Considering our history and our focus on hiring and supporting those who served in the military, we landed on a project that was patriotic in nature and one that would involve our veterans and honour their service. 

The Patriotic Pallet Project became a passion project for both our veteran and non-veteran associates.
The Patriotic Pallet Project became a passion project for both our veteran and non-veteran associates.

The Patriotic Pallet Project, presented in partnership with pallet provider 48forty Solutions, featured 2,500 wooden pallets painted 16 different colours and laid down in a grid-like pattern to form a portrait of Lady Liberty – an image selected for its universal appeal and symbol of freedom.

Each pallet represented a pixel in the 50x50-pallet painting that measured 26,325 sqft. (2,445 sqm) and set the record for the world’s largest pallet painting.

Patriotic Pallet Project Full Length Film - Behind the Scenes

We didn’t want to simply place pallets on the ground, then have an artist paint an image across them. We wanted to get our associates involved and because of that, it became a passion project for our veteran and non-veteran associates alike.

Our marketing team began to search for a pallet partner, contacting two companies before meeting representatives of 48forty Solutions, the largest pallet company in North America. One of the company’s 245 facilities is located in Gray Court, South Carolina just 27 mi. (43 km) from Greenville, where The Patriotic Pallet Project would be staged and recorded for a video that was released on Veteran’s Day, 11 November.

Fortunately, 48forty Solutions CEO Mike Hachtman quickly committed to the project, promising that despite a nationwide pallet shortage, he would do whatever it took to support us in creating the world’s largest piece of painted pallet art to honour our nation’s military.

Organising the grid
Organising the grid

Work to prepare the pallets began in late August. Carolina Handling transportation specialists began trucking the 2,500 loaned pallets to a warehouse next to Greenville’s Downtown Airport. On September 7, pallets were removed from the warehouse and laid down across the building’s side parking lot where 40 Carolina Handling associates painted them 16 different colours. Pallets were placed back into the warehouse by colour. A week later, associates returned to organise the colourful pallets into five sections (A to E), numbering them in the precise order forklifts would lay them down to form the painting. 

The painting was divided into five columns of 50 rows, with 10 pallets in each row. Five forklift drivers, all veterans representing the branch of the military in which they served, delivered pallets within their column, resembling a warehouse where a forklift operator travels up and down a path, picking up only their section. That helped ensure that drivers never crossed paths and that pallets would be dropped correctly.

 

Painting the red pallets
Painting the red pallets
Painting the blue pallets
Painting the blue pallets
Painting the white pallets
Painting the white pallets

 

In addition to veteran recognition and associate collaboration, The Patriotic Pallet Project provided the perfect opportunity to implement Raymond Lean Management (RLM) principles. Continuous Improvement Supervisor Ashely Watkins attended associate painting day to observe the process and offer suggestions to minimise touchpoints for pallet organisation and assembly days. 

For example, several pallets of every colour were brought to a central organisation site to reduce the number of trips made to retrieve individual pallets as certain colours were needed. And teams from Carolina Handling’s Equipment Distribution Center and Renewed shops offered their logistics expertise to make speed, distance and time calculations for assembly day.

Moving the pallet stacks
Moving the pallet stacks

 

View of final image from T-6 Texan.
View of final image from T-6 Texan.

They also served as section spotters to ensure forklift drivers were picking up the proper stacks.

With event space available for only one day, there was no room for error. As the weather cooperated with blue skies and temperatures in the mid 70s, Lady Liberty’s portrait was formed in four hours, without a practice run and with all 2,500 pallets placed correctly. A camera drone captured the finished painting from 450 ft. (137 m), bringing the image into focus. 

When you consider the size and scope of this project, when you see 2,500 pallets stacked in a warehouse and realise you need to paint them, organise them into stacks according to where they’ll be placed in the grid, then drop them in the correct order, it’s amazing that we executed it without a practice run. I think it’s a testament to our associates who had only seen the image on a computer screen but were committed to a quality outcome. It became a passion project for them, and they crushed it.

 

Do you work in or around forklifts? The Forklift Diaries would love to hear your story! Submit it here, or feel free to post your story in our NEWS & PERSPECTIVES forum.

"Thanks to our advertising with Forkliftaction, we were able to find new distributors for our disruptive proximity warning solution". Andreas Geamanu Global Sales & Marketing, Lopos Whatever your objective, we...
“…I'm happy to report that we recently appointed an ideal candidate who found us via the Forkliftaction ad. This speaks volumes from my point of view.” - Hamish Clark, President...

In the Virtual Expo

NL Series 4.0T-mini 5.0TLi-ion Battery Forklift from UN Forklifts
UN Forklift's new 4.0T-mini 5.0TLi-ion Battery Forklift is part of their NL Series, using UN's internal combustion design with the tough chassis, frame, counterweight and mast.

Movers & Shakers

senior marketing manager
Tompkins Robotics, United States
chief digital officer
Wiferion, Germany
director of dealer development
Toyota Material Handling, United States
director of national accounts
Toyota Material Handling, United States
Packaging Innovations & Empack, Featuring Contract Pack & Fulfilment, will be held at the NEC Birmingham on 15 & 16 February, 2023, and is free for attendees.
“…I'm happy to report that we recently appointed an ideal candidate who found us via the Forkliftaction ad. This speaks volumes from my point of view.” - Hamish Clark, President...

In the Virtual Expo

Automation Solutions for AGV from Bolzoni
AGV automated solutions are continuously evolving, and Bolzoni has been developing, designing and manufacturing special handling attachments for AGV applications including paper, food and beverage, logistics and more.
Automation solutions applied to the material handling world are continuously evolving. The latest technology development in Bolzoni has been to design and manufacture fully electric driven attachments to fit Automated Guided Vehicles.
“…I'm happy to report that we recently appointed an ideal candidate who found us via the Forkliftaction ad. This speaks volumes from my point of view.” - Hamish Clark, President...

Upcoming Events

March 20-23, 2023 - Chicago, United States
May 18-20, 2023 - Guangzhou, China
June 28-29, 2023 - Frankfurt am Main, Germany

Latest Jobs

Melbourne, Australia
Ghent, Kentucky, United States
Le Mars, IA, United States
Philadelphia, Mississippi, United States