Wilkes-Barre to El Salvador – a Christmas Present

Situation:  Full gut-renovation of 190-room downtown hotel with restaurant, bar, conference/banquet facilities, kitchen.  With demolition scheduled to start, IRN had a window of less than two weeks, over the Christmas holiday, to empty the building.

Material Composition & Quantity:  190 guest rooms. Bar and restaurant.  Banquet and conference furnishings.  Full commercial kitchen.  China, silver, and glassware.  Over 4,500 items in total.

Setting:  Urban streets.


King’s College purchased the downtown Ramada Inn in Wilkes-Barre for conversion to dormitory and administrative space.  Terms of the transaction required the property to be emptied of all Ramada furnishings so that renovation could begin.  IRN was given a window of eleven days, including two weekends and the midweek Christmas holiday, to manage removal, packing, and shipment of more than 4,500 pieces of surplus from 190 guest rooms, a bar and restaurant, banquet, conference and public areas, and a 3,000 square foot commercial kitchen.

Working with Matheson Transfer Company, IRN completed the project in nine working days, more than two days ahead of schedule.

Thursday, 12/19       Bring down and stage materials from guest rooms

Friday, 12/20              Load four shipping containers

Saturday, 12/21        Load two containers; Stage guest room materials

Monday, 12/23         Load three containers

Tuesday, 12/24         Stage guest room, restaurant, and other materials

Thursday, 12/26       Load three containers

Friday, 12/27              Load three containers

Saturday, 12/28        Load one container

Monday, 12/30         Load one container; clean up; close project


On Public Square in central Wilkes-Barre.  With the hotel closed, there was ample space for trailers and no traffic or parking conflicts

Composiition Table


Of particular value to IRN’s charitable partners was the Ramada’s kitchen and servery, which included 23 industrial ranges, ovens, fryers, and warmers, 10 refrigerators and freezers, 16 stainless steel food preparation surfaces and sinks, plus service items (china, glass, silverware, serving dishes) for more than 500 people.

In addition to the more than 4,500 items sent for reuse, about 1.7 tons was recycled as scrap metal, and more than 150 televisions weighing some 10,000 pounds were recycled.  About 3.5 tons of non-usable, non-recyclable material was sent to a local disposal facility.  In all, the reuse+recycling rate for the project was 96.7%.


Division and Specialization of Labor.  Matheson divided its crew, with half sweeping the guest rooms and other areas and bringing the materials to a central staging area.  The other half of the crew brought out the staged materials and packed trailers.  Specific individuals were designated to box and pad fragile items including mirrors, artwork, and lamps.

Effective Logistics.  Project success hinged on the on-time arrival of seventeen tractor trailers over eleven days including two Saturdays.  IRN’s logistics partner for the project was Intermodal Management System (IMS).  IMS provided excellent and accurate communications to IRN throughout the project, including the one or two occasions where a trailer was delayed, allowing the crew to keep working efficiently.

Efficient Packing.  Every wardrobe and bureau drawer was filled with pillows, towels, and linens.  More soft goods were used to cushion fragile items such as glassware, mirrors, and lamps.  As trailers were loaded, the crew maintained a cache of small and flat items to fill small niches, and packed more small items under and around the legs of large pieces such as prep tables.  The result was a very high piece count per trailer.  Ultimate five fewer trailers were needed than first scheduled.


IRN matched the Ramada inventory with Salesian Missions, which is generally regarded as the largest provider of vocational and technical training in the world.  Salesian Missions placed the surplus for community development in El Salvador.

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