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What Does Your Equipment Purchasing Process Look Like?

The Brain Squad shares the steps they take when buying new machines.




What Does Your Equipment Purchasing Process Look Like?
Credit: ajijchan, iStock

IN THE MARCH/APRIL edition of Screen Printing magazine, Marshall Atkinson shares his nine tips toward making the right equipment purchase from doing your research, considering used equipment, and reading reviews.

We asked the Brain Squad if they have a process for purchasing equipment. Here’s what they have to say:

  • When we are uncomfortable, we buy new equipment. — Joe Sudrovic, Gorilla Joe Printing, Youngstown, Ohio
  • Ask friends what they like and why. Three rounds of competitive comparison. Again, ask friends what they like and why, at every step. — Eric Carnell, Independence Printage Corp, Bellevue, Washington
  • As part of our Lean thinking, we always ask WHY five times. Why do we need this equipment? What problem will this equipment solve? Is there a different problem that’s causing that problem? Is there an easier or better solution? Would a process change be a better solution versus equipment? Once the decision to purchase equipment has been made, five new WHYs are presented. How will it be paid for? Who will be operating it? What will be the training process? What is the maintenance and who will perform it? Where is it going to live in the shop? — Scott Garnett, King Screen, Roanoke, Virginia
  • Over the years, it’s been all over the board. Early on, it was instinctive based on workload and customer base. As we matured, it became more analytical and based on risk, life of the technology, marketing outlook and objectives, training, learning new tech (time), estimated ROI, and payback. — Mark Coudray, Coudray Growth Tech, San Luis Obispo, California
  • Yes, [we use] data analytics to know capacity. When capacity is reached, we begin outsourcing. When outsourcing reaches a point that it will fill a second shift, we add a second shirt. When capacity is reached that it’s filling two shifts, we purchase more equipment. For new processes, we outsource until we see we have the sales that would fill 75 percent production capacity, then we purchase equipment to bring it in-house. — Alison Banholzer, Wear Your Spirit Warehouse, Huntingtown, Maryland
  • Our process is more identifying bottlenecks in our ordering system. If it looks like an equipment purchase can resolve issues we are having, it will be researched and then purchased if we identify it as a solution. — Joe Ortinau, Ortinau Art, Pemberville, Ohio
  • Does the equipment fit my needs of scaling production? Great, let’s get it! — Eric Solomon, Night Owls, Houston, Texas
  • We look at how long it will take us to realize a return on our purchase. Right now, we are in a growth bubble, so we are equipment shy in anticipation of this growth period reaching its natural conclusion. — Bill Bischoff, Bischoff Design/Atomic Tees, Modesto, California
  • I look at the ROI first, how it impacts our quality-of-life second, and finally how will it help grow the business. — Danny Gruninger, Denver Print House, Lakewood, Colorado
  • I look for ease of use and, of course, reliability, and, most importantly, reputation and manufactures willingness to help, (Everyone’s failed here though!) — Luiz Enchinton, 3 Little Birdz, El Paso, Texas
  • We talk to our favorite suppliers for recommendations, check on availability and service available (no point purchasing if you can’t get help or parts when needed), and we check references. We ask to speak with their customers who have purchased the equipment and see what they have to say. — Tracey Johnston-Aldworth, Traces Screen Printing, Waterloo, Ontario

  • When I see something that will make us more efficient or will do a job faster with less people, I begin to research more on the that piece of equipment. Then, I figure my ROI and figure out how soon I can purchase it. — Al Messier, Team Print, Bourbonnais, Illinois
  • We have approached equipment a little differently than what it seems a lot of screen printer startups do. We did not try to go out and purchase equipment up front. We didn’t purchase either used or by diving into the Ryonet pool. We jobbed out print for a year and saved money to purchase our first used press for cash. When we got our first press, we jobbed out the screen preparation and reclaim so we did not have to purchase the additional equipment right off the bat and we could concentrate on just developing our printing skills instead of struggling in making a good screen. We partnered with a small one-person, home-based embroidery business for all of our embroidery and am happy to keep it that way. If we bought a machine, we would have the significant investment in equipment and would also have to hire an employee to operate it, so it works perfectly for us now. We don’t have to add another employee with payroll and taxes, and we don’t have to learn a completely new skill set. We have a smaller piece of the pie, but the pie is put right in front of us, and we don’t need to bake it or cut it up or bring it to the table. We don’t need to do anything but pick up the fork and eat it! — Charlie Vetters, Organic Robot Designs, Greenfield, Indiana

What’s the Brain Squad?

If you’re the owner or top manager of a screen-printing business, you’re invited to join the Screen Printing Brain Squad. Take one five-minute quiz a month, and you’ll be featured prominently in this magazine, and make your voice heard on key issues affecting screen-printing pros. Sign up here.



Let’s Talk About It

Creating a More Diverse and Inclusive Screen Printing Industry

LET’S TALK About It: Part 3 discusses how four screen printers have employed people with disabilities, why you should consider doing the same, the resources that are available, and more. Watch the live webinar, held August 16, moderated by Adrienne Palmer, editor-in-chief, Screen Printing magazine, with panelists Ali Banholzer, Amber Massey, Ryan Moor, and Jed Seifert. The multi-part series is hosted exclusively by ROQ.US and U.N.I.T.E Together. Let’s Talk About It: Part 1 focused on Black, female screen printers and can be watched here; Part 2 focused on the LGBTQ+ community and can be watched here.

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