On January 1, 2002, Mini Max began to reinvent itself. Up to that point, they’d long been considered a lower priced alternative to the parent company SCM’s equipment, and were sold through dealers and distributors to a mostly professional market.
According to Jim Strain, COO, and President of Mini Max USA as of January 1, “In the United States, we used to be perceived in the professional market as the sub-par line of SCM. And the company’s marketing wasn’t really well focused. If a dealer could sell SCM, they would, but if someone needed a financial break, they’d sell Mini Max. But in reality, Mini Max was always and still is a very high-end product line, made in Italy, right along side the SCM products & the largest woodworking manufacturer in the world. Throughout the rest of the world, Mini Max has an extremely good reputation and is sold in over 120 different countries!”
One of Jim’s challenges is to change the American consumer’s perception of Mini Max. That meant convincing the engineers back in Italy to make some uniquely American adjustments.
“I spent over two hours explaining how important dado capabilities were. The dado is unknown to Europeans and I had to convince them on how many we could sell. They listened well and redesigned the CU410 Combination machine that we introduced at the IWF show recently in Atlanta, Georgia. It was beefier, heavier, had the best specs, & and for the first time offered a 3/4″ dado capacity!”
In addition to bringing Jim on board, the company also consolidated it operations in California, New Jersey, and Atlanta and moved everything to its sales, distribution, and service center in Austin, Texas. Another big change is how Mini Max equipment is marketed.
“Basically we’ve started selling directly to the consumer.” Jim explained, “We’re still using a dealer network — we haven’t cut anyone out of the picture — we just enhanced the way Mini Max does business. To get our story out, we’re spending a lot of money in magazine advertisement, we’ve got some mailings planned, trade shows are another big area, and we’re selling directly from our web site. But more than anything, our customers are going into the online woodworking forums and touting our features. We’re often favorably compared to the Laguna brand and starting to stand out.”
Jim identified the company’s primary markets as the mid- to high-end range hobbyist and the small- to mid-sized commercial shops. The combination machine is a relative newcomer in America and is only available directly from Mini Max. Incorporating a surfacer, thicknesser, table saw, and spindle molder, they represent a major upgrade for the hobbyist. Jim claims their models are so well built you’ll have to figure out which kid you’re going to leave it to.
In addition to the updated combination machine, Mini Max will soon be coming out with a new band saw line. They teamed up with Centauro — one of the oldest band saw manufacturer in the world and also located in Italy — to custom design 16″ and 20″ band saws for the hobbyist market. They’re working on a high-speed router option for one of the combo machines. And a new 12″ joiner and a 25″ planer are also on the way!
But it’s going to take time to get both the new and enhanced equipment and the word about Mini Max out into the market.
“Even though they’ve been around for a long time, Mini Max USA is an up and coming company,” Jim explained. “You’ve got European quality and craftsmanship going into the machines and you’re going to see more and more of that quality reaching the market place. Be patient, it’s coming.”
The best way to see the product in action is at a trade show & the company publishes a list of its appearances on the web site. And a video should be ready this fall.