Equipped to succeed: Middleman for surplus finds a niche

Jeff Mucciarone

Unlike many of the companies founded during the dot-com boon, EquipNet in Canton is still very much in business, and while the rest of the economy seems to be on the decline, EquipNet is actually growing.

“Our business is good with change,” said CEO and President Roger Gallo. “Directional is good, growing and slowing.”

Founded in 1999 and celebrating its ninth anniversary this year, EquipNet serves as the middleman for companies looking to sell surplus assets. Its workers determine the best avenues for companies to get the best return on items. It might be an auction. It might be EBay. Or it might simply be a matter of finding who needs what.

EquipNet deals with companies that make, produce and package anything that is sold in grocery stores and pharmacies, “from the beginning of a particular ingredient to the final taping,” Gallo said, adding EquipNet is also expanding into the computer and biotech worlds as well.

“By aligning ourselves with our client’s goals, we’ve been able to consistently provide them with a growing number of services,” Gallo said. “We now lead the industry in helping companies establish and manage entire surplus asset management systems. Our goal is to not only create satisfied customers but to go above and create ‘raving fans’ in all that we do.”

EquipNet has been running its headquarters out of Canton since 2005, when the company moved from Braintree to the Shawmut Industrial Park off Dedham Street. EquipNet also has locations in St. Louis, London, Puerto Rico and India, while also planning further expansion into Asia and Eastern Europe.

The problem other companies that started in the dot-com age ran into was that they were too broad, Gallo said. But EquipNet has found more long-term success since it has been able to stay more focused in a specific industry.

With about 80 staffers between all its locations, the company has nearly doubled in the last 16 months, Gallo said, adding about 45 to 50 employees work in the Canton facility, which includes about 20,000 square feet of warehouse space. The company says revenues are up nearly 15 percent as well.

The company is trying to be a one-stop, one-source vendor, Gallo said.

“It’s always timing,” Gallo said. “We’re trying to find out who absolutely has a need.”

In the Canton warehouse, unique-looking machines—large and small—litter shelves and the floor. Some of the products are targeted for recycling, but most wait to be sold for the highest possible bid.

Gallo pointed at a tablet press, which is an expensive machine that makes a very precise and specific product. He said EquipNet needs to weigh sellers’ time constraints and their need for a return. The more time they have to sell, the better the return is likely to be, Gallo said.

“There’s a little trust there,” he said, adding most of the products EquipNet is trying to sell are housed at their client companies’ facilities, which reduces cost for their clients in both transportation and in housing the items.

“Let’s find out what makes sense,” said Gallo, who was recruited to join EquipNet in 2003. “If it’s lots of inexpensive stuff, then let’s auction it off.”

But if there are more precise products, like the tablet press, an auction isn’t likely to be the best avenue. That’s where his sales team comes in. The sales staff is constantly researching other companies to see who needs what. If they find a company that needs a tablet press, or better yet two or three; that’s when they are likely to get the best return, Gallo said.

Focusing on return versus time, EquipNet tries to develop a custom strategy for each client or product, Gallo said.

Looking at a pile of older model printers, Gallo said EquipNet also helps other companies dispose of and recycle products that don’t really have a market anymore.

While some of their dealings are local to local, EquipNet is fully prepared to find a company anywhere in the world that has a need for a product, regardless of where it’s being sold from.

While much of EquipNet’s work is done over the phones or online, Gallo said it is nice to be centrally located just a short ride from Boston. EquipNet is continuing to expand into biotech areas, and considers its location near the city to be a major plus for that market, since the biotech industry is large in this area.

Gallo said pharmaceutical companies are large and it’s natural they would need lots of equipment and would also need to sell lots of equipment. But biotech operations are a different story, since they can be much smaller and can start and stop rather quickly.

“Biotech is harder to pinpoint,” Gallo said, adding companies like Organogenesis, which recently made a major decision to expand in Canton rather than leave, is the type of company EquipNet would look to work with.