Machinery Matchmaker

By Noah Graff

I often see machine tool preference as a kind of religion, and my game is not to try to convert people. In the used machinery business, my usual strategy is to be a matchmaker rather than a missionary. If customers ask for an ACME 1-5/8” RB-8 I don’t generally attempt to sell them a Wickman 1-3/4”. If a customer is a devout Tornos user, I doubt I can convert them to Citizens.

A few years ago I trekked through the mountains of Slovenia with a customer to buy a Schutte SE16 spindle stopper sitting in a barn. We could hear cows mooing through the wall. It was the machine the customer asked for and I didn’t even attempt to sell him a different brand.

I wonder, is it a better business for me to try to provide the exact product a client asks for (when there may be only a few available in the world), or attempt to convince a customer the product I already possess is just as good or better than what they requested? Perhaps I just don’t have the expertise for the missionary business.

Would it be more fulfilling to be a missionary?

Question: Do you like like using more than one brand of machines in your shop?

Schutte SE16 in Barn in Slovenia

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2 thoughts on “Machinery Matchmaker

  1. Randy Lusk

    The difference you describe is what new machinery dealers face all the time. Can they make a case for getting me to convert from the existing style or brand of machinery we have to what they represent. It is usually a very long game to convince me to change as the cost is not just comparing one machine to another on price as there are add on costs for tooling, support, service, different controls, a multitude of things that impacts. Does my set up team want to deal with a new controller? If I buy something that is different will they want to now run everything on that machine and avoid the others?

    As a matchmaker it is usually an easier sell, and frankly a good matchmaker gets a lot more opportunities to sell me what I am looking for than the salesman that is trying to pitch me his particular brand.

    My most recent cross over was looking for larger capacity spindle size and the Miyano brand we were familiar with did not get over 3″. So here I was looking for capacity, brand was open, but I needed two machines and I needed them within a month. No new dealer at that time had them, but a broker we knew found me Nakamuras and we were a new convert.

    1. Noah Graff

      Hi Randy! Thanks for commenting.

      You really are a good person to opine on this as it seems like you like sticking with the equipment that has been working for you, but at the same time you are smart enough to have an open mind.


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