Dark Daily interviews leading market maker in used and refurbished lab analyzers
Used laboratory analyzers and systems are in demand across the United States, but the economic recession is less a factor in this market than would be expected. To find out if bargain-hunting pathologists and lab executives are snapping up refurbished analyzers and instrument systems during these tough economic times, Dark Daily caught up with one of the nation’s market makers in used and refurbished laboratory equipment.
Meet Rob Rankin, President of Michigan’s Rankin Biomedical Corporation. Rankin has sold refurbished lab equipment for over 15 years. “Laboratory equipment and instrument systems form the foundation of any clinical laboratory,” notes Rankin. “For that reason, buyers of refurbished equipment want quality and reliability along with a price that generates huge cost savings when compared to other equipment purchase options.
President of Rankin Biomedical Corporation
“One thing that surprises clinical laboratory managers and pathologists is how accessible used and refurbished equipment is to them,” said Rankin. “If they want a certain piece of used equipment, it can be found. We are capable of supplying equipment for entire laboratories.”
Rankin’s customer list is also another surprise. Rankin sells equipment to universities, hospitals, doctors’ offices, laboratories and many other sectors that require laboratory equipment. Some of the nation’s most respected laboratory organizations find it attractive to buy select refurbished lab systems at a price that is temptingly low.
“In fact, it is the preconceived notion many physicians and pathologists have toward the use of refurbished equipment that inhibits more activity in this area,” observed Rankin. “It is not uncommon to hear lab equipment buyers say, ‘We don’t have to buy used equipment because we can afford new equipment.’
“In many instances, some institutions don’t buy refurbished equipment as a policy,” he explained. That can change when an institution is operating under budgetary constraints. Suddenly, the substantial cost savings are very attractive and it is recognized that refurbished equipment will perform with high reliability.
Rankin serves the entire range of laboratories, from small private practices up to the largest universities and hospitals. He says that his client list has included such well-known universities and research institutions as the Henry Ford Health System, Masschusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), The University of Michigan, and UCLA.
“We sell equipment to clients like these not only for their students to use in training, but also to their medical schools for actual patient testing,” Rankin said.
One hot sector in used/refurbished laboratory equipment is Histology. Equipment used in histology laboratories currently represents about 50% of Rankin’s total sales.
“I believe this strong demand for refurbished histology systems is because physicians are treating more cancer patients” stated Rankin. “In some cases, specialist physicians are opening up their own private laboratories to do the testing in-house versus sending it out.”
Not surprisingly, first-time lab customers are naturally concerned about the quality of the equipment. “We show them how these refurbished instrument systems are reliable and why they are less expensive to acquire,” he noted. “Typically, these buyers are not so concerned about aesthetics. As long as the machine gets the job done they don’t have all the latest models with all the bells and whistles.”
So how has the two-year recession affected the market for these used laboratory instrument systems? “What might surprise many laboratory managers is that the slow economy has hurt the refurbished equipment business as hard as any other sector in the industry,” explained Rankin.
“In the fall of 2008, when the first TARP financing package was passed by Congress, it was like a shock wave,” he said. “It put the breaks on sales of used laboratory equipment. That shock lasted until probably March or April. By last June, things picked back up. We again see regular demand for these used and refurbished lab analyzers and instruments.”
Across the laboratory profession, little is written or discussed about the demand for used and refurbished laboratory equipment. As Rob Rankin’s experience demonstrates, the market activity for these used systems is ongoing and serves an impressive cross section of laboratories in this country and abroad.