Ask Before You Buy

Am I Choosing the Right Equipment?

2020 will be big for capital infrastructure in the cannabis & hemp industries. You can protect your company from getting ‘taken’ by learning about an equipment dealer’s history and their key relationships.

Unfortunately, many companies have already learned a hard lesson this year when sourcing machinery from overseas manufacturers or purchasing from unqualified cannabis & hemp equipment dealers. Admittedly, most of these problems arise when the machinery has been sourced through brokers, foreign equipment suppliers, inexperienced consultants, or “industry expert” middlemen looking to turn a quick buck. Here are some specific questions you should ask any equipment supplier to ensure that you are dealing with a reputable company and to help avoid foreseeable problems:

  • How long has your company been in the equipment manufacturing business?
  • Are your products manufactured overseas or domestic?
  • What is covered under the machinery warranty and customer service packages?
  • How do they handle field service issues?
  • What equipment engineering background does the company have?
  • How many Engineers are on staff?
  • Can they provide an engineer peer review at advertised specs?
  • Ask for proof that their machinery has been approved by any AHJ or a client’s local compliance body. 
  • Are the company’s machinery  on “record” from a USA approved,  Nationally Recognized Testing Laboratory? Example:  UL or ETL listed C1D1 or C1D2 compliance
  • How many systems are actively operating in the field?
  • Can they provide a demo or  videos of the machinery running at advertised specs?
  • Ask the company for some detail on the size of their company:
    • Office(s)
    • Number of employees
    • Inside sales 
    • Tenure of employees 
    • Customer support staff
  • Is the company willing to provide references and contact information of customers using their machinery? This should be a standard rule of thumb for any salesperson. It is important for potential buyers to check customer references before purchasing.
  • Inquire about how the company has handled equipment problems in the past. How do they guarantee short downtime on  their machinery? In every business, successful companies work to avoid any foreseeable problems. On occasions, problems do arise. Ask for their service policy and how they keep service times down to a minimum. 
  • Does the company have in-house mechanics and electricians that test and qualify the machinery before getting sent to the customer? This is a way of guaranteeing that the machinery is in good working order.
  • How many employees are currently with the company. The answer will tell you a lot about their ability to handle their customer base.
  • Does the company have a demo facility where the machinery can be seen operating before it is purchased? This is also a way to assure the quality and operational specs are as advertised. 
  • How long has the company been at their current location, and does it have a warehouse? This may appear like a very basic question, but will help to determine the company’s size, stability, commitment to maintenance, and financial strength in an ever-changing market.
  • Does the dealer offer a warranty program to ensure that the machinery being purchased is not going to have any mechanical or electrical issues once it is operational? Often the more reputable companies are willing to work with customers to assure their satisfaction and, consequently their future business.
  • Does the dealer stock most of its machines or does it broker them? This will establish whether one is dealing with a middleman or the company in charge. When dealing with a broker or the owner of the equipment, you may have to pay a higher purchase price to cover the broker’s commissions. Most of these questions should be answered on the dealer’s website. If not, you will have to ask the dealer—some of the answers may come as a surprise.

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