Tips For Buying Surplus Printing and Converting Machinery

The Main Advantages of Buying Used Equipment

Price and availability. Used equipment is usually considerably less expensive than new and most often is immediately available. As such, used equipment provides a ready source of equipment for new market development and business expansion. Normally it is immediately available and reasonably priced. The major disadvantage to the purchase of used equipment is that it is not always available in the brand, size, configuration, and age that you may desire. If you remain flexible in your thinking there is almost always an alternative for your end use.

The Nature of the Used Equipment Marketplace

It is reasonably fast paced, particularly for items of equipment which are in high demand. Slitters, Laminators, Flexo presses, Rotogravure, and Bag machines are among the most sought after pieces. While all things are negotiable, equipment which is in high demand will be less readily available and hence less negotiable. Your broker can advise you about the availability and price range of a particular type or item of used equipment.

Some people and companies seem reluctant to ask for, or accept, broker opinions regarding the price and availability of used printing and converting equipment. While no doubt, some broker opinions may be “self serving”, many banks, financial institutions and even appraisers frequently solicit this information from used equipment brokers. In view of the specialized nature of the printing and converting industries, there is no other more reliable source available. We suggest you ask for at least 2 opinions before making your decision.

The Greatest Myth About The Purchase of Used Equipment

You will be purchasing someone else’s problems. While all used equipment is certainly not free of problems, the vast majority of used equipment, being offered for sale, is offered not because it is faulty, but rather because it is no longer usable in the marketplace that it previously served.

Think about this premise and ask yourself: When was the last time our company sold a piece of equipment because it was faulty? I think you will agree that most faulty equipment is repaired and returned to service, not sold to get rid of a problem. Further, it is always prudent to request a test run of used equipment before you agree to purchase, when applicable. Depending upon the circumstances a test run can be arranged at no charge. In some cases it is required practice to consider a “refundable upon purchase” fee arrangement for a test run.

The Reality of Used Equipment Offerings

All used machines which you are contemplating purchasing should be physically inspected whenever possible/applicable. Virtually all used equipment is sold on an “as is, where is” basis and without warranty. Absent a warranty, a personal visit and inspection is your best assurance that the machine that you are considering, is, and will do, what you want. Exceptions to this rule of thumb would be used equipment purchases that are so inexpensive that a visit and inspection would cost more than the value of the machine or where you are buying the machine with the intention of modifying or fully rebuilding it.

In any event you must be mindful that no warranties are offered and if a warranty is something that you absolutely must have, you need to consider the purchase of new equipment. Naturally new equipment will carry a significantly higher price tag and longer delivery time.

Be Flexible

Used equipment is not always available to precise buyer specifications. As the buyer you may have to get as close as you can to your exact needs and modify the equipment, or your needs, to conform to, and enable, your end use requirements. Your broker can normally advise what types and sizes of used equipment are readily available to meet your end use requirements. The alternative to flexibility in your thinking is new machinery which can be built to your precise specifications but will cost considerably more, with a longer delivery/start-up.

Be Prepared

When you find a good piece of used equipment that comes close to, or fits, your exact needs, be prepared to purchase it immediately or at least place a deposit on it. Most sales and purchases of used equipment are made on an “as is, where is”, basis and is sold to the first entity that is prepared to pay for it. While a contract offers the intent to purchase, it is the transfer of funds that make the purchase complete.

It is difficult to get this point across to many used equipment buyers as they perceive this advice, from a broker, as “sales hype”. There is nothing more distressing to a broker, who has worked hard to assist a buyer, than to see the buyer lose a piece of equipment to a competitive interest because the buyer was not prepared to move quickly.

Needless to say, the buyer is usually disappointed as well, and worse, many times, does not find an alternative machine which meets the same criteria as the machine that was lost. We are fond of telling our clients that “unlike new machinery purchases, another machine like the one they have selected is not forthcoming on the assembly line”. We feel this is sound advice for those of you who are contemplating used equipment purchases.

Be assured, if you are looking for used equipment, to expand or compliment your business, your competition is also probably looking for the same type of equipment. In the words of the old adage, “he who hesitates is lost”.

A Word or Two About Overseas Purchases

We are constantly amazed at the number of people who will not consider used equipment from foreign sources. Our amazement stems from the fact that a goodly portion of the printing and converting equipment that exists in the United States today is of foreign origin. Further, given our declining manufacturing base, it is likely that in the near term future, the percentage of foreign built machines in the U. S. will only continue to increase.

To ignore the possibility of purchasing used printing or converting equipment from a foreign source, or seller, is to rule out as much as 50% of the equipment available to fit your needs. As a generalization, most used equipment from a foreign source will, dollar-for-dollar and year-for-year be of equal or better value than similar used equipment located in the U.S.


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