It began over 10 years ago, sitting back-to-back in a tiny bedroom and trying to build an empire. Steve and Luke of Machines4u started from humble beginnings, to try and meet a need that was going unmet in the machinery sales industry. Now, a decade later, that need is still strong, and Machines4u is constantly adapting to overcome the challenges facing buyers and sellers today.
We sat down with Machines4u founders, Steve and Luke to discuss the origins of the business, and how their passion for machinery and vision for change inspired a creative solution, and led to the birth of an empire.
Understanding the Market’s Flaws
Machinery sales, around the world and within Australia are largely led by dealers. Waltzing into a factory and speaking with clients about their need to upgrade or build upon their equipment collection, dealers have always been able to drive machinery sales by recommending products to buyers who were none the wiser. Keeping an ear to the ground on new and upcoming models is something which many businesses simply do not have time to do themselves.
As salespeople by trade, Steve and Luke have a deep understanding of what drives business owners in their equipment purchasing decisions. Beyond buying the ideal new equipment however, there was another sore point for many of their clients which simply wasn’t being addressed. What to do with their old machinery?
“We saw the pain. We were walking into so many different people’s businesses and talking to them about equipment. We saw these great machines, that were working fine but the business was expanding and they needed to upgrade. We weren’t allowed to trade them in, so we saw them get pushed down the back of the factory. Months later they would still be there,” says Luke.
“We’d come in 9 months later and it’s gone. We’d say, ‘oh did you sell it?’ No, it was sent to scrap.”
Finding a Solution for Needless Waste
Rusted out tractors are a dime a dozen along the dusty, outback tracks of the Australian farming landscape. Used machinery, however, is not just a farming or small business issue. Large scale manufacturers, specialised producers and even the military often find themselves in possession of their fair share of expensive, industrial-sized paperweights when machines have reached their use-by dates. Moving this machinery, and squeezing any remaining value from it, is a challenge that faces businesses of all sizes.
The pair identified this trend of rusting machinery as a huge waste in resources. Not only were businesses losing money on redundant machinery, but the environmental cost of scrapped materials and wasted potential was something they simply couldn’t stomach. Putting their heads together, Steve and Luke started to devise a series of possible solutions.
Steve says of Luke’s ingenuity, “he’s the kind of guy that can come up with 25 different options for something in 5 minutes.”
From Trash to Treasure
Seeing where the trends of communication, as well as buying and selling were heading, they came across what would soon become their business model. As Steve puts it “one man’s trash is another man’s treasure.”
“The goal was always to make it easy to buy and sell equipment,” says Luke.
“The newspapers were working really well at one point, but communication was changing. We were using the internet for personal things like buying motorbikes, but there was nothing like that for machinery,” Steve recalls.
“That’s where the internet comes in. It allows stuff to be recycled, and allows them [businesses] to upgrade much more easily. Because they can see what’s out there, and see the latest equipment.”
Considering their successful sales backgrounds, and wide network of machinery users and manufacturers, what did the industry think when the guys mentioned their plans?
“A lot of people in the industry said it will never work. I just said, right, a challenge!” says Steve. “They were fun times, it was exciting. We were taking on the world. It was scary, but we were alive!”
A Force For Good: The Empire Strikes Gives Back
They’ve never looked back since. Used machinery, as the lads explain, is something that while surplus to one business, may be valuable to another. The longer this outdated machinery sits gathering dust, the harder it becomes to sell and the more value it loses. The Machines4u site allows users to list their old equipment (for FREE!), and instantly reach an audience of millions – something which would never be possible in a printed classifieds ad.
“In business, everyone’s at different levels.” Steve explains. “So, one guy is just upgrading and going to the new efficiency, another person could use that machine if he knew about it, and could get it at a cheaper price.”
The Right Piece, Price and Place — Every 6 Minutes
These days, Machines4u helps a buyer find their perfect piece of machinery every 6 minutes or so. With over 2.4 million active users on the website, there’s no doubt of the success of Steve and Luke’s plan to make buying and selling machinery easy. So, considering the clear demand for such a service, why is it that others haven’t jumped aboard the wagon and created their own versions? Well, unlike many other selling sites, Machines4u has a unique edge, as Steve tells us:
“It wasn’t a media company making a website, it was two salespeople making a website and I think that’s been a huge strength. That’s why we’re still here.”
And as for the diversity of machinery on the site? Machines4u covers construction, manufacturing, landscaping, farming, woodworking and even catering. In fact, sellers can list just about anything on the Machines4u website, and the new free-to-list model means that it’s incredibly affordable. Still keen machinery enthusiasts themselves, and lovers of all things grunt and grime, Steve and Luke can be seen sitting at their desks, browsing the ads on the site and occasionally making a bid on an unmissable bargain themselves. Like this one…
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