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some takedown ideas-

Discussion in 'Christmas Trees & Seasonal' started by David Gretzmier, Jan 12, 2011.

  1. David Gretzmier

    David Gretzmier LawnSite Gold Member
    Messages: 3,645

    I've had a few consulting session recently about takedowns, how we do it, where we buy stuff, etc. and although this is not exactly what you'd get for hiring me at $350 per hour, I thought I'd post some stuff we do that I believe I have put up here before.

    Number one is boxes. we use the 48x12x12 boxes from Uline.com that are rated at 275 pounds per square inch. they hold up very well if treated nice, fully tape all seams top and bottom, don't get them wet and don't overstuff them full of cords. They run you about 3.50 each if you buy them 120 by the pallet. shipping cost me about 150 bucks. while you can buy the 200 psi boxes of the same size for 2.15, I don't reccomend them. they are thin walled and stacking 3 high will sometimes collapse them. for light and bulky stuff like garland and bows, I have used the 200psi 48x16x16, and the 48x24x24 and maybe a few cords or mini lights thrown in for bulky materials. but it is way better to just use 2-4 of the 48x12x12's. If you figure in warehousing, labor to load, unload, stacking them and maximizing space in the trucks and in storage, sticking with one size is the way to go. I have some boxes that are over 10 years old now, and the reason is we started with a very good box, did not overload it, or get it wet, and taped it all the way around on the top and bottom. we go through about 120 boxes per year now. The reason for that size is I find it easiest and economical to build shelves or use pallet racks with 48 inch by 8 foot sheets of plywood, and send the long box in, and label the 12x12 end of it. it seems to maximize use of space and be easy to warehouse.

    number 2. is yellow tags, also from uline. we use the ones prestrung with wire for wreaths, long runs of garland, metal frame items like angels or stars, and also to label each string on a c-9 spool. we use the fluorescent yellow paper tags, number 8's, and they run about 75 bucks for 1000. we use about a thousand per year. I have tried the plastic tags, and the tyvek, and although they are way better, and it is just not worth it to pay 10 times the price when you end up replacing most of them anyway.

    number 3 is tape, again from Uline. and no, I am not financially invested in uline in any way. but they usually have the best price, and they ship and deliver quick. I use the 3 inch wide, industrial rated , 2 mil thick for 2.50 per roll if you get 2 cases or 48 rolls, and at one case and up you get a free dispenser gun to boot. do not buy the economy tape unless you live in the deep southern edge of the US, as it does not stick to boxes below 45 degrees. industrial works down to zero degrees, which is a good thing given it was 6 degrees here at 10 am today. we go through 2 cases per year or so, and we use a ton of tape on each box on the bottom, top, sides, and everywhere. I encourage my guys to lather on the tape because it is the cheapest way to make an expensive box last. at less than 1 cent a foot, I could care less if they make 6 passes on a 48 inch long box. at 150 bucks per year shipped per year it is well worth it to keep each truck well stocked with tape. I would rather spend 25 to 50 cents worth of tape to save a 3-4 buck box for another year or two. If I had the time I would cover all my boxes 100% with tape to make them waterproof and they'd last a lifetime.

    finally, markers and labeling. I buy them from, you guessed it, Uline. they are uline brand, sharpie copies that cost about 36 cents each and we go through about 150 per year. I know the guys take them home and lose them, but again, at 50 bucks per year I don't care. I have bought bulk name brand sharpies online on ebay and they were good, but I paid about a buck each and the guys still went through the same number of markers.

    using those markers is one of the absolute keys to success in Christmas Lights. labeling your boxes with customer names and how many boxes the customer has, yellow tag labeling garland runs before you box them, yellow tag labeling wreaths and c-9 cord with tags with install instructions, ( not just whose product it is for warehouse purposes, but how and where do you put this item up on the particular house? ) those things make or break your profit line next year. and it is often overlooked because everyone is in such a hurry to take down lights and get it over with. but adding 5-10% of labor time to label things properly will save you 50% of labor time in the fall this year when lights start going up.

    have a good take down season guys. we have 120 down or so with about 90 to go.
    Last edited: Jan 12, 2011
  2. turf hokie

    turf hokie LawnSite Silver Member
    Messages: 2,751


    Just doing some homework, these look like the same boxes from Uline, do you see any difference in quality, price is much better which has me thinking there is something hidden in the price difference. I am not a box enthusiast and usually use sterilite for most of our stuff.

    We have been using old/recycled wardrobe boxes for garland but need to get a bunch of new ones for garland this year.


  3. David Gretzmier

    David Gretzmier LawnSite Gold Member
    Messages: 3,645

    at that website. those are the 200 pound rated boxes. at uline those are 2.15 each at any quantity. I have used those a few years back, and they are ok for light stuff, but they occaisionally collapse on the sides when you stack them 3 high. for us, the 275 pound rated ones hold up much better to the weight of cords and mini's.

    I inherited some plastic tub jobs about 8 years back and they do hold up well. for us, a 48 inch long box is just able a squeeze more jobs stored in the same cubic footage of warehouse. since row space to walk is constant, the deeper you can make your rack boxes, the more efficient use of space we have.
  4. turf hokie

    turf hokie LawnSite Silver Member
    Messages: 2,751

    Thanks David, I was having mental block last nite, too much snow plowing, not enough light taking down!!!

    The sterilites are nice in that you can get them wet, no problem. But as you have said, warehouse space is a premium and the sterilites leave space between them and I think we would be better storing all of our garland in the bigger square boxes, we tried hanging the garland, which in theory would work well, but the problem with that is the only spot to hang the garland is in the aisle which makes pulling jobs in the fall a nitemare because the garland is in the way of the storage racks....
  5. Tq23

    Tq23 LawnSite Member
    Messages: 99

    I wish we could use boxes here, but with the snow, the boxes would not last very long. We use 20 gal plastic totes.
  6. turf hokie

    turf hokie LawnSite Silver Member
    Messages: 2,751

    That's why we have been using the sterilite 32 gal, the red and green ones usually go on sale right after christmas at target. We also use some 18 gal, for mini lights since they are so heavy in quantity

    Even those get abused. In the 19 degree weather the crack fairly easily.

    I am going to try the box and tape method and try to use them primarily for storage and keep them out of the field. I think I can gain some shelf space using boxes instead of the containers. We will see, I have used boxes in my first 2 years with limited success but not recently, and they were double walled.
  7. turf hokie

    turf hokie LawnSite Silver Member
    Messages: 2,751

    Ok, boxes, et al on the way.....going to give the cardboard a 2nd chance because the sterilites are getting murdered in the cold weather right now (we did not order any new boxes last year and the current ones are 4-5 years old but cost $7-8 each for a 32 gal, they leave gaps between them on the shelf and the tops dont hold to stacking too much weight)

    ordered the 48x12x12 for garland, 24x24x24 double wall for cords, mini's and c-9's. ordered a bundle of each, so we went in with both feet on this one....did get a neat freebie tho....
  8. turf hokie

    turf hokie LawnSite Silver Member
    Messages: 2,751

    I'll keep posting if any body cares.

    Delivered today, fast, real fast, ordered at 5:30 yesterday!!!

    The 48x12x12 boxes are working well for garland, 3-4 sticks per box depending on how much you are willing to squish the garland. Which is find with me, that is all we were getting in the 32 gal sterilites, but now they are easier to stack and inventory.

    The 24x24x24 are a bit too large in that you can very easily overload them and make them too heavy if you fill it with only minis or cords. But the double wall is an awesome box, looks like it will last a long time.
    I would think the 24x18x18 would be the ideal size for these products based on what I have seen from the 2 sizes we are using.

    Good luck with take downs, we lost today with snow/sleet/rain all day
  9. David Gretzmier

    David Gretzmier LawnSite Gold Member
    Messages: 3,645

    hokie- I could talk about boxes all day.

    glad the new boxes are working out for you. we get 3 strands of noble garland in a 48x12x12 as well, which is fine for most homes that have you put it around the door or entry arch. on the larger houses with 5-6 strands on the arch we use 2. we also use a 24x24x24 double wall box that our garland comes in to store starbursts and other items. but on our shelves that are 48 inch deep, you have to have 2 per customer or it hides the box behind it. and even though those boxes are tough, it just seems like they don't hold up as long as the 12x12x48, even though the cardboard is way thicker on the 24"

    but on the garland heavy jobs like fences or scallops on deck or porch rails, or really wrapped big columns, my favorite volume box for lots-o-garland is not really available to buy, it is the box that some custom wreaths I got from HBL a few years back came in. these wreaths had a 50 inch metal frame and the noble foliage, and I call that my 5 foot wreath. these were just slightly larger than the old 4 foot 3-d wreath that HBL and brite ideas sold back in 2003-2006.

    the boxes those came in are about 14 inches wide, about 30 inches tall, and about 54 inches long. it has TRIPLE wall cardboard and full overlay side flaps on the bottom and top, meaning they don't just meet halfway in the middle, but they go all the way to the other side of the box and you tape the perimeter to close them. there is therefore 3 full layers of triple wall in the top and bottom, and really strong sides. we can put 8 strands in there without stuffing too much. I have about 30 of those, and I only have about 3 left that are empty and available for me to use next year. all the rest are storing garland right now. with fully taped bottoms and care, these boxes should last 12 years plus.

    I priced those boxes custome made from uline one time and they would be almost 40 bucks a box if I bought 100. or 4000 bucks. ye-ouch. I passed.

    I have tried to use the current HBL 5 foot 3-d wreath ( or what I call a 6 foot wreath ) boxes for lots of garland or large bows plus some garland, but the ones this year no longer have the heavier cardboard, they got rid of the full overlay on the top and bottom, and now they "pooch" or bulge on the sides even when they came out of the container we got this year. so they are not really re-usable except for 2-5 bows and maybe 3-4 strands of garland on the bottom. even then I know this is only a 2-3 year box.

    HBL currently sells a box that has full overlay, I believe the dimensions are 12hx18wx48, double wall U.S. made 275 pound cardboard, and sounds like a really good box. they are around 10 bucks. I am going to get some at convention this year and give you guys a report on those. probably the biggest negative is you have to pallet, truck freight them and that means buying a pallet load to make it worth your money.

    not to make this post too long, but I got some boxes from a box manufacturor 5-6 years back that was a bulk load of triple wall cardboard boxes, I paid about 400 bucks total shipped and they sent me a an oversized skid load of extras and 2nds. I have a few left unused, but all those that are used are good and still in service, but odd sizes. my favorite of that lot is a box we use for a customer that just has garland, about 14 strands around his balcony. it is a bulk cargo box that is exactly the dimensions of a pallet and about 30 inches tall. we fully taped the bottom, and we just feed all the garland and cords attatched to them in it in one long strand and have 2 guys load it in the truck and put it in the bottom of our pallet racks. easy and cheap. to buy those boxes it is about 50 bucks each at uline.com.

    ULINE does have a few bulk pallet sized cargo boxes that are cheaper, maybe 15 bucks to 35 bucks, and have anywhere from 275 double wall or 600 pound double wall, and you guys are welcome to try them.

    but in the end, I still prefer just good old 12x12x48's. just simple and efficient use of space, and hard to break even if it full of cords. I have never thrown any out that were taped properly and treated well.
    Last edited: Jan 20, 2011

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