For that, shippers can thank a visionary North Carolina trucking entrepreneur. Malcom McLean, founder of the company that became Sea-Land Service, thought not like a seaman but like a salesman.
"His big insight was that the customer doesn't care how you're shipping the goods," Mr. Levinson said. "The customer wants to get it from here to there cheap and on time. The customer doesn't care if it goes by air or land or sea."
Pallets were in limited use by industry prior to World War II. "Before Word War Two, there were no -- or relatively few -- pallets in use," said Bill Sardo, who became the first administrator of the National Wooden Pallet and Container Association in 1946 and retains the title of NWPCA vice president-emeritus. "There was no equipment to handle pallets," noted Bill, who was a Navy officer during the war." The forklift truck, hand jack and hand truck all were developed about the same time -- not until about the late 1930s, according to Bill.
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