Tim Cromwell grew up around machinery. Now, the machinery has grown up around him.
Once fascinated by the wood-turning equipment and small engines his father worked with, Cromwell found his career calling with the massive, complex industrial pieces he appraises and sells today. The knowledge he has accumulated through the years is what he likes to share with fellow dealers in his capacity as chair of the Philadelphia Chapter of the Machinery Dealers National Association (MDNA).
Cromwell has been an MDNA member for more than two decades. His initial connections were made while he was a sales executive for machinery dealerships in the United Kingdom and the U.S., and continue now that he runs his own company — Ironside Machinery, headquartered in Riegelsville, Pa. Since 2015, he has been served in various MDNA leadership posts — as the organization’s public relations chairman, and currently as the Philadelphia area’s chapter leader and representative on the national board. He also spends time advising leaders of other MDNA chapters on how to make the most of their responsibilities.
“Involvement is crucial,” he says of his commitment to the organization. “What good is membership in anything if you’re not going to take full advantage of what it offers you? Business is all about the relationships you build, and the MDNA is how you can build them.”
Cromwell started out as an auctioneer so, not surprisingly, Ironside — the name connotes his fondness for the "big iron” of the industrial plant floor — specializes in appraisals and sales of used equipment. While much of its business is conducted around his home base in the Lehigh Valley near Allentown, Pa., Ironside’s customers have come from across North and South America, as well as Europe. The company also offers a clean-out service that empties facilities of everything, from the presses and milling machines down to the office chairs, to make the building ready for a new occupant.
“Ironside Machinery would not be here without the MDNA,” he declares. “In the 2 1/2 years I have owned this business, 95 percent of the deals I’ve done have been with MDNA members.”
The MDNA was established in 1941 and today has nearly 400 member companies worldwide. They include machinery dealers, auctioneers, and appraisers. A subsidiary group, the Association of Machinery & Equipment Appraisers (AMEA), is the world’s premier industrial appraisal association. Cromwell also is a member of AMEA.
"My experience with the MDNA is something that has made me money and kept me in business,” he concluded. “Simple as that.”