One of the key startup decisions for any tobacco business will be about the choice of machinery. Which one is right for you? And how much should you invest?
“Molins HLP cigarette packer is the star, I would go as far as to say it is the best for niche production,” says New Wave Inc. founder and CEO Carmen Simion. “The productivity is not skyrocketing, but this machine breathes English soundness, it is built to live forever. The bati has not been changed since its inception in 1966.” She then goes on to explain that bati is to machinery what chassis is to cars, their fundamental structure. Speed increased about threefold, improvements were made, but the “bones” are still the same.
The latest she has restored came to the workshop with a client New Wave Inc. serviced last year. The beauty of it is you can bring it to functioning mode irrespective of their condition. And this one was in a state. New Wave Inc. always does the best possible with the means at hand to have the machine up and running and endure.
Any machine can be restored to “as good as new.” The stage of restoration is agreed on with the client, according to the time and money budget. Initially the client asked for less, but during the process they realised it had to be reinstated to full technological parameters and standards. When complete, the machine complied with all EU regulations and safety rules. “It was a thing of beauty.”
How is that possible for this piece of work to endure a lifetime and be passed on to the next generation? “The same way Edison’s original bulb is still alight. It was built to last,” says Carmen Simion. The latest generation machines are high quality, but also sensitive and expensive. When the investment is north of 1 million US, we are no longer in niche waters.
Every tobacco owner will make the choice that is right for their project. At New Wave Inc., we ask the questions that get them to their match. Questions like “How much would you like to invest? How much can you lose? And how much would you be in a position to sell?” for instance. “This is an industry of taste and personal attachment. Going for the optimum risk zone is best,” explains Carmen Simion.
The recommendation will always be to choose the machine for the sales target attainable in a given time, rather than invest in large production capacities waiting for the market to catch up.
As things progress, capacity can double or the existing equipment can be replaced with a more competitive one. The discharged equipment will find its way to the market.
Is there a recommended point to stop with the restoration? The basic investment will render the machine functioning, but will also cary a larger operational and maintenance risk. “A good product and a good story will sometimes bridge the gap. But I will always advise for the larger investment in restoration at the beginning, whenever possible. For two reasons. One: sales never go as expected, but if the money is in, you will grit your teeth and pull through. I have seen this happen so many times. Two: the operation will be easier to manage for both owner and staff. A machine will package 200 packs per minute. Pushing a button will not fix a maintenance issue. I always say it straight: it’s terribly beautiful, but not easy. Easier maintenance is priceless.”