Shades of wartime cooperation between government and industry were recently demonstrated in a talk by W. Stuart Symington, Surplus Property Administrator (now Assistant Secretary of War for Air) before the newly appointed Metalworking Machinery Industry Advisory Committee of the Surplus Property Administration.
Mr. Symington said, “Our central idea, here in SPA and RFC is to sell—to sell all the surplus machine tools we can and sell them fast —without cooperation between us the disposal of these tools, so critical to reconversion employment and defense, will not be a success.”
Under Stuart Symington’s guidance the surplus disposal agencies made rapid progress, but the continued progress of this plan will depend upon the cooperation of the disposal agency personnel and the dealer agencies who will stimulate plenty of sales if given half a chance. Multiply the effort of a few thousand experienced machine tool salesmen who will be eligible for the work, by the thousands of potential buyers of these machine tools, and we should come up with a sizeable sales figure before another year rolls around.
We all know that the best price for machinery or goods of any kind cannot be obtained without proper merchandising, that is advertising and selling. Unless your advertising is properly directed or your salesmen widely experienced, your sales volume will be limited. SPA will have an estimated one and one-half billion dollars worth of surplus machine tools for sale within the next year. Before the war the normal annual sales volume for the entire machine tool industry (new and used) totalled only $300,000,000. The present billion and one-half surplus represents a five year normal production.
We have emphasized repeatedly the gigantic task before government and industry in surplus machine tool disposal alone. In addition, there are billions in other surplus capital goods and supplies which will have to be sold or allowed to disintegrate in storage. We still see it as the “greatest merchandising task of all time” and firmly believe cooperation between the surplus government disposal agencies and dealer selling agencies is vitally important to quick disposal.
Petty enmities are rumored to have cropped up between disposal agency personnel and dealers who are trying to sell surplus properties. The dealer will be given a 12.5% commission on all surplus machine tools that he actually sells. The government salesman in the disposal agency should get the same amount of credit whether he sells to a dealer or a user insofar as his quota is concerned. The fact is the user pays the same price for his machinery whether he goes through a dealer or buys direct from the government agency. There should be no reason for lack of cooperation, particularly on the part of government employees. They have a job to sell surplus machinery and the idea is to sell it fast! The majority of prices are fixed, exceptions being made where negotiated bids are more feasible, so the government salesman has nothing to lose.
The machine tool user can obtain the assistance and experience of a dealer-agent who is well posted on performance and application of machine tools. Some are experts in specific types and others are experienced in numerous types and makes. The user is getting a real break in the deal . . . at the same time dealers and machine tool builders will be able to stay in business, with the ultimate aim of properly reallocating machines to manufacture products so vitally necessary to our economy.