SIC 2441

This industry classification includes companies that are primarily engaged in the production of nailed and lock corner wood boxes (lumber or plywood) and shook for nailed and lock corner boxes.

NAICS Code(s)

321920 (Wood Container and Pallet Manufacturing)

The nailed and lock corner boxes and shook classification covers the production of containers made wholly or partly of wood. Containers in this category include ammunition boxes, tool chests, wooden cigar boxes, and cases for packing produce. Shook refers to sets of box parts—sides, tops, bottoms, and ends—that are ready to assemble.

According to the U.S. Census Bureau's 1997 Economic Census—Manufacturing, 318 establishments operated in this industry category in the late 1990s. In 2000 total industry employment reached 51,311 workers receiving a payroll of more than $1.1 billion. Of these employees, 43,817 worked in production, putting in more than 81.3 million hours to earn wages of almost $792 million. Overall shipments for the industry were valued at approximately $5.05 billion.

The top two industry leaders in this category were American Moulding and Millwork Co. of Stockton, California, with sales of $88.0 million and 800 employees in the late 1990s; and Calpine Containers Inc. of Pleasant Hill, California, with sales of $63.5 million and 200 employees. Other industry leaders included North American Container Corp. of Mableton, Georgia; Michelsen Packaging Co. of Yakima, Washington; Gatewood Products L.L.C. of Parkersburg, West Virginia; and Woodland Container Corp. of Aitkin, Minnesota.

Woodland, which generated sales of $35 million with 350 employees in 1998, received its first ISO 9001 certification in December of that year. An ISO 9001 certification was the most stringent of the ISO 9000 certification series, an initiative toward international standardization of quality specifications. Woodland met the certification requirements for its industrial containers, which it manufactured to house snowmobiles, lawn and garden tractors, and watercraft, among other products. Because of the growth of business globalization, ISO 9000 certification was increasingly important across industries.

Unlike pallets and skids, the largest segment of the wood container industry, sales of wooden boxes did not increase much during the 1990s. Fierce competition came from non-wood containers, such as boxes made of corrugated paperboard. Nailed and lock corner wood box makers also lagged behind the pallets and skids industry in the use of new, more efficient technology. Because of the diversity in the kinds of boxes made by this industry, most production runs are too small to benefit from automation. Improved conveyors and material handling equipment increased productivity for companies whose markets required large numbers of one kind of box. Elsewhere, however, nail guns were the most high-tech tools used to make boxes. Therefore, of the growth in output and productivity in the wood container industry between 1977 and 1995 (including SIC 2448: Pallets and Skids and SIC 2449: Wood Containers Not Elsewhere Classified ), little came from sales of nailed and lock corner wood boxes.

During the industry's peak in the 1970s, approximately 1 billion nailed wood boxes were made annually. The 1977 Census of Manufacturers estimated the value of nailed wooden boxes and box components shipped that year at $261 million. Adjusting for inflation, the industry lost some business to improved plastic and corrugated container technology (boxes from these materials cost far less to produce). Marketers hoped, however, that selling wood boxes as "specialty packaging items" would lend these products an air of quality. Both the durability and reusability of wooden boxes supposedly made them more attractive to consumers.

Like the wood containers industry as a whole, wood boxes have not historically faced much competition from foreign manufacturers. This industry's future primary concern will likely be the expense of making wooden boxes compared to cheaper, non-wooden containers.

Further Reading

Copeland, Julie. "Aitkin, Minn.-Based Industrial Containers Maker Gets Federal Certification." Knight-Ridder/Tribune Business News, 18 December 1998.

Infotrac Company Profiles. Available at (visited 1/25/00).

"The New Growth of Wooden Boxes." Modern Packaging, November, 1979.

Spencer, Albert G. and Jack A. Luy. Wood and Wood Products. Columbus, OH: Charles E. Merrill Publishing Company, 1975.

United States Census Bureau. "Statistics for Industries and Industry Groups: 2000." Annual Survey of Manufacturers. February 2002. Available from .

United States Census Bureau. "Wood Container and Pallet Manufacturing." 1997 Economic Census—Manufacturingm, 10 February 2000. Available from .

U.S. Department of Commerce. 1995 Annual Survey of Manufactures: Statistics for Industry Groups and Industries. Washington, D.C.: GPO, 1997.

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