The recent announcement by R.F.C. (see page 24) of a 12.5% commission to established dealers in the machine tool industry is the culmination of two years’ effort on the part of interested business groups to route government surplus industrial equipment through established trade channels. For over two years we have been stressing this point, because we knew it would accelerate sales—particularly of technical equipment, which cannot be sold by inexperienced persons.
Due credit for expediting this decision should go to W. Stuart Symington, Surplus Property Administrator who, when he accepted the post of sole administrator, said he was ready and willing to adopt an aggressive sales policy. His subsequent actions indicate this was not an overstatement. The Surplus Property Act was passed by Congress in September 1944 after fifteen months of deliberation. In four months Mr. Symington has cut more corners and stimulated more action than had taken place during the previous year.
It is true the disposal agencies have been selling millions of dollars worth of surplus goods, but businessmen have been camping on the disposal agency doorsteps since the first sales announcements were made public. In fact, R.F.C. has been flooded with so many inquiries it takes weeks to get a reply. As the months and years go by this selling job will become more complicated. Better and more aggressive merchandising methods must be adopted. Further stimulation and inducements to dealers will be needed; for example, more experimental sales such as the one to be tested in the New England R.F.C. warehouses and direct sales from original foundations.
We said editorially in July 1944 that this was the greatest merchandising task of all time and that still stands. The quicker surplus goods are consumed and surplus machinery put back to work, the quicker the return to a normal economy. We are glad to see R.F.C. utilize the services of the thousands of new sales outlets winch this new regulation makes possible because every plant operator will be able to concentrate on the business of manufacturing his own product, and not find it necessary to spend time out shopping.