FORTUNE Small Business:

Buying heavy machinery - overseas

Ask FSB helps a business in Cambodia source heavy machinery in Japan.

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(FORTUNE Small Business) -- Dear FSB: Could you help me find a Japanese supplier of used Caterpillar heavy machinery?

- Vanna Meas, Phnom Penh, Cambodia

Dear Vanna: Luckily, the global market for used heavy machinery is flourishing on the Internet.

Caterpillar (CAT, Fortune 500) runs a Web-based clearinghouse for used Caterpillars at, and its homepage lists five authorized dealers in Japan under "Find your local dealer."

But whether you decide to deal directly with a dealer or buy through the many websites that also deal in used heavy machinery - World Equip is one - several experts cautioned that due diligence is critical in this market.

Enormous global demand means there can be a 10- to 18-month wait for new machinery, said Tom Bagnell, vice president of sales for the Irving, Texas-based Hoss Equipment Co., a global dealer of new and used heavy construction and mining equipment.

If a company can't wait that long, the next place they turn to is high-quality used equipment, stoking demand there as well.

Bagnell recommended that after your due diligence is completed and you find the type of machine you want, "pull the trigger quickly," because the best will go fast.

Julian Ellison, president and CEO of, said the Internet will be a powerful resource for you. You can source pretty much anything at his site and others, bringing the global marketplace to your desktop. A recent auction for industrial equipment on his site drew 1,040 bidders from 15 countries, he said.

And, of course, all the homework about type, condition and price should be worked out beforehand.

"You don't want to bid on a piece of yellow metal," Ellison said, only to find you've bought a "Tonka Toy."

Here are some more sites to try:

Tajima Trading
E Markets Co.

For more general information on doing business in Japan, the Japan External Trade Organization is a great resource. To top of page

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