Companies Talk About Best Practices for Buying Machinery and Equipment
July 13, 2010

With glasstec, the industry's biggest glass equipment and machinery show, only months away some fabricators are starting to think about whether now might be a good time to invest in new equipment. But when it comes to purchasing and installing new glass processing machinery and equipment, careful consideration and examination are key—after all, you want the equipment to meet your specific needs. In recent years a number of glass fabricators have taken the plunge into such new purchases, and say they have been quite successful in doing so. They say careful planning and considerations, cautious steps and simply working with those they trust were instrumental.

Eugene Negrin, president of Galaxy Glass & Stone in Fairfield, N.J., purchased a large-format water jet late last year. For him, he says, the process was perfect and he would do it all again the exact same way.

"It's exceeded my expectations," he says of the water jet, which he adds is in operation about eight hours a day. "I've been buying equipment since 1984, when I purchased a 13-spindle edger, so I've been doing this for some time. I research the equipment, look at the market, hone in on the manufacturers and then have discussions with them."

Negrin adds that researching the manufacturer is critical, particularly during a time when so many companies are going out of business. "Trust, but verify," he says.

"You need to investigate the manufacturer and its abilities because today you don't know [whose going to stay in business]," says Negrin. "Plus, I always tell the manufacturer I want to see two or three similar pieces in operation; I make the investment in time [to see the equipment in advance]."

Mike Kelley, who handles special projects for Tulsa-based TriStar Glass Inc., says his only regret about the equipment purchase they made last year, a HOAF modular laminating system, was that they should have bought more pieces.

"We're still buying equipment and see that now prices are starting to go back up," says Kelley, who adds that they learned the importance of being prepared to take advantage of these opportunities as they are available.

"We should have made the purchases sooner and done so more aggressively," Kelley explains. "But we were being conservative about it at the time and now we are playing catch up."

And what about as advice he'd give to others also considering such purchases?

"It's still the people business and it's best to deal with those you trust. Follow your instincts; if you don't like the people you're buying from you're probably not going to be happy with the purchase in the end," says Kelley.

Wolverine Glass Products in Grandville, Mich., also added new equipment last year, a cup wheel flat edger, but instead of buying new Mark McGann, president and owner, decided to go with a factory re-build.

"I've had great results with it," says McGann of the edger, which was re-built by Salem Distributing.

According to McGann, he made the decision to go with re-built equipment because, given the economy, he was trying to be conservative.

"Re-built equipment can be about half the cost of buying new equipment," he says.
Making this type of purchase is also a bit different compared to buying new.

"When you're buying new equipment you can go to the machinery shows and see the equipment and how it's going to work. With this, though, you have to trust that it's going to do what you want it to do."

All in all, he said he had no surprises with this purchase, but says the electrical requirements are one area to be aware of.

"With new equipment you can have the electrical requirements spec'd to your specific needs, but when buying a re-build it's not as cost-effective to change the power supply," McGann adds.

And for others who may be considering a similar purchase, McGann recommends a factory re-build versus doing so in-house "unless [the company] has the personnel to do the work."

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