Natural Accents Landscape Distributor is the new name for a not so new business in the southwest Missouri community of Neosho. Originally Price Box Factory, the company was first started to supply small sycamore berry boxes and baskets to the flourishing fruit and produce growers in the area. Sycamore logs were soaked and peeled thin to make the now old style strawberry boxes that have since been changed to plastic.
In the late 1960’s and early 1970’s the area was more focused on industrial and technological advances which prompted the need for wood packaging used by forklifts to load and unload truck shipments moving across the country. Gerald Klepinger owned the Neosho Concrete operation and acquired Price Box Factory in hopes of supplying his operation with economical pallets for his block making plant and develop the industrial focus of the wood facility. He renamed the business and hired a manager to keep things running smoothly.
Neosho Box and Wood Products, Co. Inc. grew from a simple hand assembly operation into a robust and efficient assembly plant building custom pallets and crates for a wide variety of industrial customers under the guidance of Glen Werneke. He focused on customer service and quality products and grew exponentially through the 1980’s and early 1990’s. Customers included automotive wheel manufacturers, a propane cylinder producer, store fixture companies, a marine engine manufacturer, and of course, Neosho Concrete Products and their block facility.
Through the 1990’s, manufacturing became more globally sourced. Many of the customers within our service area closed plants and utilized less expensive labor in foreign countries to create their goods. Neosho Box saw the shift and increased efficiency to compete in a much tighter and less lucrative business environment by moving into a 34,000 square foot facility in the industrial park and investing in machinery to compete. One of those pieces of equipment was to grind and color waste wood products from the pallet plant for use as a landscape surfacing mulch.
Growth in the mulch operation was almost immediate. Starting with just a two-ton dump truck and the grinding/colorizing unit, the business grew by 20%-30% every year. We invested in walking floor trailers and signed contracts with two agencies to supply wood fiber for playgrounds all over the four state region. By using only the best mulch colorant and controlling the wood quality in our mulches, our customer satisfaction and loyalty has been tremendous.
In late July 2012, after realizing that our growth had exceeded our capacity to supply our customers in a timely manner, we had to decide where to focus our time and investments for the future. It was evident that the economic downturn in 2008 had made the pallet and crating business far less appealing than the mulch activity. So with a bold and decisive move, we began ramping down the pallet production and purchased an additional Rotochopper B-66 horizontal grinder.
In the following years, we began providing onsite grinding services for various municipalities and land clearing customers to keep our raw material costs stable. We continue to this day providing quality hardwood mulch products for Missouri, Arkansas, Oklahoma, and Kansas markets.