Last week Roseland Metal Products of Dolton, Illinois, was auctioned off by Loeb Winternitz Industrial Auctioneers. I think an event like the Roseland sale tells us quite a bit about what is going on in the small contract shops—the core of precision machining.
Roseland was a casualty of the recession but also of a management that made scant investment over the last 10 years. The most significant capital investment was the retrofit of six out of 15 Brown and Sharpe screw machines with an early incarnation of AMT’s ServoCam upgrade technology.
Roseland bought a SNM clone of the New Britain model 52 in 1998. The past decade has been a cruel one for shops like Roseland, which kept playing the old game without expanding its customer base.
I talked to Charlie Winternitz, who skillfully orchestrated the sale for the seller of the Roseland assets. He told me that 160 bidders signed up for what he had viewed as a tough sale. More than 100 bidders bought items. This is surprising breadth for a smaller auction that brought approximately $300,000 gross with no equipment newer than 12 years old.
The SNM multi sold for $19,500 plus buyers fee, while the ServoCam Brownies brought $7,500 to $15,000. A 2” standard cam B&S brought $8,000. The sale tells us that a lot of folks are interested in buying old school equipment but they are unwilling to go to the bank to buy it. If they can pay for it out of cash flow or from the piggy bank they are interested, but if they have to check with their banker it’s often a “no go.”
The sale also indicated that old CNC equipment has little value. Four nice Traub TNM lathes from the mid 90’s with magazine loaders couldn’t crack $4,000 each, and a Brother drill and tap 1993 vintage brought $8,000 plus BP.
Buyers scouted the tooling for sexy nuggets, which indicated that business in the hustings has some life. For example, two B-13 Reed thread rollers with New Britain bases brought $650 each on average—cheap for a user, but a strong price at a Web auction.
Roseland tells me that bargain hunting buyers are plentiful now, even in shop depleted screw machine land. Buyers are frugal, but willing to spend if there is an attractive deal.
Question: Can an old screw machine shop like Roseland still be viable today?