4 Tips for a Major Equipment Purchase

What the CEO of Bennett has learned about making a big investment.

When Kathy Bennett and her team need to buy a printer, they don’t go to Office Depot. For its latest purchase, her company (also named Bennett) had to travel all the way to Spain.

That’s where the Barberan Jetmaster 1680 digital printer is made. Bennett—which produces colorful retail displays and packaging for major brands—invested $5 million in purchasing a Jetmaster 1680 for its facility in Lee’s Summit.

Right now, it’s the only one of its kind in North America.

“We’ve always reinvested in the company,” said Kathy Bennett, who founded the business in 1987 with her husband, Doug. “I don’t think you can have a good presence in the marketplace without continually reinvesting in the company and in technology.”

To create its displays and packaging, Bennett prints graphics directly on corrugate board. The six-color digital printer can complete jobs faster with its single-pass technology, and at a high level of quality.

Being digital simplifies the production process, too—there are no print plates or litho label purchases needed. It’s possible for clients to come up with different versions of its packaging for different markets. Bennett can produce all those variants without any extra time to reset the printer, which would cost the client more.

And that’s opened the doors to new projects with some of Bennett’s existing accounts, said Craig Bradley, the company’s vice president of manufacturing and Kathy’s son.

If you’re mulling over a major investment in equipment, here are a few points to consider.

Don’t wait until you need a replacement to start researching a purchase. Bennett’s printing capabilities were strong even before it bought the new printer. But the company, always looking to stay ahead of the competition, wanted to be the first in its market with a high-speed digital press.

Bradley took responsibility for finding one. When he heard about Barberan’s work, he visited Spain to check it out. He sought out other customers to see how the Jetmaster performed for them.

Take time to think things through. Are your customers ready for a big leap in technology? Is this going to be a good fit for your business? “You need to do a good cash flow analysis to be sure you can make the purchase,” Kathy Bennett said. “Ultimately, is it going to do what you think it’s going to do?”

There may be programs that can assist you with funding. By utilizing local economic development resources, many governmental jurisdictions can assist in financing and provide favorable tax incentives to assist in technology-based expansions.

Another option: The U.S. Small Business Administration’s 504 loans can be used to finance long-term machinery, too.

Remember there will be other costs, beyond the price of the equipment itself. When Bennett bought its new printer, it had to invest in training. It also had to set aside materials for testing and experimentation, so Bennett’s team could practice using the Jetmaster.

“You have to be willing and be able to devote the time, resources and proper talent,” Kathy Bennett said.

If everything checks out and you’ve got the means to add that shiny new piece of equipment? There’s only one thing left to do.

“At some point,” she said, “you’re going to have to take a leap of faith.”