Trying to estimate the amount of surplus industrial equipment available in dealers’ stocks, private industry and government surplus is like trying to guess the number of fish in the sea.
Each month in the advertising pages of this publication are literally thousands of items available for almost immediate use. These machines and miscellaneous items are serviceable pieces of equipment; the firms offering them could not spend money for advertising them if they weren’t. Junk soon finds its way back to the cupola.
In addition to revealing the hugeness of the surplus equipment industry, this advertising represents one of the industry’s functions—supplying needed equipment with a minimum of delay. Just as an example, a manufacturer in urgent need because of a break-down wired us for help in locating a special electric motor. Within twenty-four hours, a suitable motor was on its way to his plant. (We mention this, not as a service of SURPLUS RECORD, but as an example of the way surplus equipment dealers can deliver the goods.) Another manufacturer—one of the largest in the country, operating several plants—had been searching for a large overhead crane. He learned that a new one could not be obtained for nearly a year. Within a week after we put him in contact with a dealer, he had purchased a crane meeting his specifications, and thereby saved a year’s time in an important expansion program.
We do not claim that the dealer in surplus equipment can pull machinery and equipment out of a hat, but we learn of hundreds of cases every year where critical equipment problems have been solved by resourceful manufacturers who otherwise might be pulling their hair out in desperation “for want of a nail.”
The other function of dealers in surplus equipment is exactly the converse of the first. How he performs this function can best be described by reference to some more of our recent mail: The other day we had a letter from an executive of one of the nation’s biggest manufacturing firms. He was looking for a market for a large quantity of small tools. About the only persons who would be interested are dealers who specialize in buying miscellaneous small fools in large quantities for selling—after scrap and obsolete items have been culled out—to smaller or more specialized users.
In practically the same mail, a manufacturer in Wisconsin sent us a list of some special machine tools which were still in the original crates, evidently war production tools which became surplus with the end of hostilities. These tools will undoubtedly find their way back into some other manufacturer’s production line—probably through the medium of a machinery dealer whose business is seeking out and knowing the market for such types of tools.
The two functions of the dealer in surplus equipment are specialized to the same degree as those of the manufacturer whose business is to build and market farm equipment—or any of the other million and one items which go to make up our economy. And because of the value of his specialized functions, the equipment dealer is an important factor in our daily economy—and undoubtedly will continue to be as long as that economy lasts.