The photo above is a Graff-Pinkert ad in the Serial Number Reference Book For Metalworking Machinery 7th Edition from 1979. Graff-Pinkert & Co. has undergone a lot of changes since my grandfather Leonard Graff and his cousin Aaron Pinkert started the used machine tools business back in 1941. We've been in business almost three quarters of a century, and it's mind boggling how many multispindle screw machines we've sold and then ended up buying back decades later, which we then refurbish and sell to new customers.
Graff Pinkert Blog
I'm thankful for our 8-32 Euroturn (ZPS). Rigid, fast, accurate. A modern beautiful, multi-spindle, almost as beautiful as the Czech women who live where it's built.
I'm thankful for traditional cutting oil. No, not the water soluble stuff which destroys beautiful machine tools.
I'm thankful to live and work in a country which still manufactures many of the best parts in the world at competitive prices.
I'm thankful for all our Wickmans, solid, high precision multi-spindle screw machines, great for quick changeover. Why buy any other machine?
Business owners, “the moving walkway is now ending.” The punch bowl is being pulled away. Section 179 of the United States Tax Code will essentially evaporate December 31 of this year. It is really going to end, and you are going to kick yourself if you blew big money by not taking advantage of the best goodie package the awful Feds have provided in decades. This is really quite important for any small business that needs a truck, crane or parts cleaner. Even a screw machine or a hundred iPads.
"The Davenport screw machine won World War II," Massimo Bonaldo said to me, as we ate kebabs in a rural village 40 minutes from the center of Hannover, where I was to attend the EMO Machine Tool Show the following day. Massimo is the technical manager of Tajmac-MTM S.p.A., the Italian headquarters of ZPS, one of Europe's top machine tool builders.
I had trekked throughout Germany the previous two weeks, visiting elite manufacturers and machine tools dealers. I had walked through state-of- the-art shops, packed with the latest INDEX MS machines, Hydromats and CNC machining centers. And now I found myself hanging out at midnight with three Italian ZPS technicians in middle-of-nowhere Germany, with one of the company's top engineers giving me a history lesson on the good old noisy American Davenport. The reason the Davenport won World War II for the Allies, Massimo explained, was that the Germans were using European single-spindle machines to bang out ammunition, while the Americans spit out bullets like mad with five-spindle Davenports. Times have changed since the days of American multi-spindle domination. Today Germany is the place to be to see tons of manufacturers full of the best multi-spindle screw machines on the market. That's why Graff-Pinkert sent me there to find machines.
The first shop I visited on my trip was Brehm Präzisionstechnik GmbH & Co. KG, about 100 km southeast of Stuttgart. ...
“What goes around, comes around.” It’s a dumb cliché, but it’s what I am seeing in the screw machine business today.
The cyclicality of business is playing out as the auto industry in North America pushes toward the magical 16 million units a year mark. Thank god for the F-150, now the “best selling car or truck in America.” Tradesmen are buying, businesses are buying, even Aunt Millie is buying a vehicle today, and most of them are put together in North America with millions of perfectly turned components also made here.
Add a revival in home building and all those unleaded brass fittings needed and it means a lot of spindles turning, after the up and down gutting of the traditional turned parts world over the last 15 years.
My guess is that one third of the shops that ran multi-spindle automatics have gone away since the wholesale outsourcing trend to China began in the late 1990s.
Tim Haendle was pleased with himself when I talked to him Wednesday. He had bought 100 carbide inserts – used of course – for a hundred bucks at a Hoff Online Auctions Internet sale of a screw machine shop in St. Paul, Minnesota. He’ll regrind them for use on one of the 22 National Acmes he runs in his shop, buried in a forest in Mendocino County, 100 miles north of San Francisco.
I love the used machinery business because it is a competitive treasure hunt every day. It asks us for impossible calculations about realizable values for illiquid, flawed, sometimes rickety, filthy objects that often have little tangible worth when we are asked to buy them.
Here’s an example of the type of situation we consider at my company Graff-Pinkert every day. A firm has a 25-year-old screw machine or rotary transfer machine that it does not need at the moment. It has long been written off the financial statements, yet the potential seller feels it still has value but doesn’t know how much. He calls dealers for comps, checks eBay for similar machines, and considers whether he may use it again soon himself. He advertises it or calls us and probes for an offer. We feel the piece may have enough potential value that would make it a worthwhile addition to our stock, but we need to determine whether it is badly worn and will require substantial expensive refurbishing, or if it can be sold in its present state, which usually means full of oily chips, a nasty appearance, and out of production.
If by chance the machine shows well and is still running good parts, it becomes inviting for our broker competition, which hopes to turn it quickly for a modest but quick profit, without doing any of the difficult work of returning it to its original state of productivity.
I bought out my brother Jim’s interest in Graff-Pinkert six months ago. I promised him that I would not write about the breakup, but I want to take a few lines to describe how the post breakup is going for me.
The day after our deal closed I was vacationing with my wife, my sister and brother-in-law at the Chautauqua Institution near Jamestown, New York. (We had planned this trip a while before with my sister. That the breakup with Jim culminated at the same time was an odd coincidence.) The four of us were having lunch on the grounds when my iPhone rang and Jim’s name came up. I gulped, walked outside and took the call.
Jim quickly got to the point. There was a deal available with Wickmans and Hydromats. He had already looked at it. He wanted to know if I was interested in buying it. My head spun. Was this déjà vu? Was it 2012 or 2011? We had just broken up a 40-year relationship and now he was calling me to work on a deal?
“Well, uh, yes,” I stammered back. “Sure.” It was a pretty short conversation. This was not exactly how I expected my first day of solo ownership of the family business to go.
Multi-spindle screw machine plant closed in company consolidiation. Many machines with .001 end toolslide to stem readings! 1" to 4" capacity. 6- and 8-spindles. Well maintained, nicely tooled, priced to sell quickly!