Skip to main content

Equipment Perished by Poor Decisions

I drove by a sawmill the other day. It closed within the last few years. I decided that I needed a break to stretch my legs so I pulled over. I stood there, looking at the empty shell of the mill that had once been a vibrant hub of activity. This made me sad for the people who once worked there and for the community that was built around it. I imagine that the mill workers most likely had to move away, due to the scarcity of other jobs in the area. I also imagine this greatly impacted the economic health of this community. Some retail stores and services probably had to close due to lack of business, as many of their neighbours lost their incomes. Such a shame.

I had been to this mill a few times in the past, and spoke with some of the people who worked there. They had complained that very little investment was being made in the mill, so it wasn’t running as efficiently as it could have been. They felt there was more interest in saving money than there was in making the sawmill more efficient. When issues arose with equipment there were basically only two types of decisions. The first was to do nothing since it was still working, though not properly. The second was to find the cheapest fix which in many cases got the equipment going, but not very effectively. Both of these decisions only served to decrease the overall productivity and efficiency of the sawmill. Over the years, the accumulated effect of these types of decisions only served to make the sawmill unviable, so it closed. Hence the empty shell I was now looking at. 

As I got back in my car to to continue my journey, I thought about the fact that there are many more businesses making these types of poor decisions every day. It would seem that this sawmill closure is not an isolated incident, since every day I see companies buying or fixing equipment based solely on what it is going to cost. These decisions do not take into account what is best for the company. They only look for the smallest amount that could be spent, if anything at all, without weighing the benefits of investing more.

I can understand wanting to get good value for your money, but I can’t understand wanting to cheap out on your business. It seems like many vendors have adapted this attitude as well. They think, “What can I sell you that is cheap?” instead of, “What is best for this company?” Once again, it is such a shame when vendors support this line of thinking. I guess it’s easier to sell on price instead of what is actually best for the customer. 

Other companies have adopted an even stricter approach, which is to ignore the problem of unproductive equipment altogether. You can save a lot of money by not fixing or replacing any broken equipment. 

This attitude of trying to save money in the short-term actually causes businesses to lose efficiency, therefore further reducing their ability to generate income for the long-term. When less revenue is generated, there is even more unwillingness to spend anything to fix, maintain or replace equipment properly. This causes a downward spiral that results in failure.

In the case of the sawmill I mentioned, their spiral is over. It will only be a distant memory once the building is torn down.

It’s too bad that poorly made decisions, founded on cheapness, caused this mill to close. I wonder who’s next. I bet some of us already know.

Don’t let it be you.