KANSAS CITY — Investing in new equipment can be a tricky proposition, especially for a co-manufacturer that has a wide variety of customers and can’t predict how the business might change when the next opportunity comes knocking at the door. Deciding to add a new makeup line or packaging system can be a costly mistake if that equipment was intended for a customer who eventually takes their business in-house, elsewhere or changes to another new product or package.

“With all of our capital expenditures, we buy equipment that will benefit all customers or bring in new business,” noted Russ Case, chief executive officer for Sylmar, Calif.-based Fantasy Cookie Co. in Baking & Snack’s April issue. “We buy used equipment, but they’re usually wrapping and cartoning machines. I don’t think we’ll buy a used oven. Ovens, if they’re taken care of, last a long time, and if you buy a new one that’s automated, there’s no hands-on adjusting, so you take the guesswork and human error out of baking, and they’re so much easier to operate.”

Fantasy Cookie’s new oven comes with recipe controls that preset burners, dampers and more with the touch of a button. The system also comes with enhanced safety features and greater energy efficiency than the smaller manual ovens they’re replacing. However, if a customer requires a specific piece of equipment for their co-manufactured product, Fantasy Cookie offers two options.

The customer can either buy the equipment, or Fantasy Cookie will purchase it and add the expenditure to the customer’s monthly bill. That takes the risk out of the capital spending process.