Celebrating 80 Years of Service to Industry
The times were hardly promising back in November 1924, when Surplus Record Machinery & Equipment was first published. Yet, Surplus Record enjoyed almost instant success in the industrial marketplace. At the time, industrial items that were deemed “surplus” were being advertised in the classified sections of a few machinery trade magazines. This second-class status caught the attention of one of these magazines salesman, my grandfather, Thomas P. Scanlan. He soon recognized that the industrial surplus market could support a magazine dedicated solely to advertising surplus or used machinery; 80 years and 960 issues later the 752 page Surplus Record is a testament to our founder’s vision. Today, readers worldwide still look to Surplus Record for comfort and guidance in their search for surplus capital equipment.
We fully realize the many responsibilities attached to publishing a business journal. And, though it is physically impossible to act as a judge and jury in the thousands of transactions initiated through the advertising in the Surplus Record, we have been extremely vigilant in the selection and acceptance of advertising. The record of our advertisers speaks well for itself, and during our 80 years of service to industry we have learned that the overwhelming majority consists of sincere dealers whose probity stands unquestioned. Today, there are more than 1000 active advertisers, and quite a few of them have been in this book since the first year or two.
We have, since the inception, always had an editorial section. We felt it was our obligation to editorially advance the idea that it makes good sense to buy surplus, rebuilt, reconditioned, or remanufactured industrial equipment. And looking back over the thousands of requests for help we have received over the years, we know our efforts have been successful. We have always had a tremendous response to our editorial content, including thousands of letters of encouragement.
As we look back over the years at the surplus industry we helped bring into focus, we can’t help but to enjoy a feeling of pride at its development. It is today at a plateau that years ago would have seemed impossible. And we thank the ingenious self-made men and woman of the surplus equipment industry, who through hard work and practical knowledge made it what it is today. The contributions that we have made together to the industrial economy are many. In addition to providing fast help for thousands of break downs in plant production lines, we can’t help but recall the significant contribution that was made to the defense industry―during both war and peace. If there had not been a surplus equipment industry many plants would have been scrapped their unneeded equipment to get it out of the way. And it would have taken years to mobilize in an emergency, instead of months. The same immediate help has many times been provided by our electrical power advertisers to communities and countries suffering power failures where equipment was needed immediately. Recently, many of our advertisers have provided Iraq with the electrical power equipment needed for rebuilding their country.
Nothing stands still in the world, you either progress or regress. We take great satisfaction in how our industry has progressed to the level and reputation it enjoys today. Surplus Record, serves multiple purposes, and tens of thousands of our readers continue to rely on our monthly printed directory for sourcing used and surplus machinery and equipment. However, its purpose doesn’t just stop at its traditional usage. More buyers are using the Internet to find machinery. As a result it is now the collective use of both the “printed” Surplus Record and the website which provides the utility buyers seek. I recall in 1995 when SurplusRecord.com went live, visiting with our advertisers, and explaining and showing, for the first time, the benefits of the Internet. While we brought many of them into the Internet age kicking and screaming, others embraced it immediately. We were not afraid of cannibalizing the existing. Surplus Record business, if for no other reason that if we didn’t someone else would. Fortunately, we changed Surplus Record from a bricks and mortar business to the integrated print and website business that it is today.
While we are pleased with the progress that the Surplus Record has made in bringing buyers and sellers together, we are fully aware that we owe much to the men and women who helped shape the surplus industry. We would also like to thank all of those who have used the Surplus Record over the years to locate needed equipment. Our goal has been, and continues to be, to serve the best interests of the industrial equipment buyer.
For our 80th anniversary, I agree with Andrew Grove’s claim that “only the paranoid survive.” I still believe, as I did back in 1995, that the first rule when transitioning to an online enterprise is to encourage and reward vision and to push yourself and your organization to think outside the box and the safety of being the incumbent leader. Andrew Grove also talks about a “valley of death” that incumbent companies must cross to morph into clicks and mortar firms. Bricks and mortar companies that refuse to make this crossing face extinction. Our battle-tested traditional publishing business has and will continue to offer us a competitive edge over our purely online rivals. Indeed, I predict that if we continue to offer both sellers and buyers a seamless multichannel service via printed directories and a “search engine” online directory; that we will continue to be industry’s No. 1 vehicle for sourcing used industrial equipment.