Salina company acquires 13 vintage record presses
A Salina company that presses vinyl records is hoping the acquisition of 13 vintage presses will allow it to double production to help keep up with exploding demand for albums.
Quality Record Pressings owner Chad Kassem said the presses, which have missing parts and were rusted, were still a big find because vinyl-pressing companies are searching desperately for any such machines. He found the owner in Chicago, persuaded him to sell and the presses arrived in late February.
"People all over the world are freaking out, trying to locate presses anywhere," Kassem said.
Quality Record Pressings already produced about one million records a year. If the production is doubled, the company will be the second- or third-largest vinyl-pressing company in the United States, The Salina Journal reported.
About 9.2 million vinyl albums were sold in the United States last year, up from 6.1 million in 2013, according to Nielsen Music. Kassem recently expanded his plant to three shifts and still can't keep up with the increasing demand for vinyl records, estimating his order backlog is three to four months.
The presses, which are from three different manufacturers, will take some time to restore. The machines were made in the late 1960s and early 1970s and had last been used in the mid-1990s to press "bootleg" records for sale in India. The previous owner, Joell Hays, bought them in the early 2000s.
Hayes at first didn't want to sell the machines, Kassem said.
"I told him if he was ever going to do anything, to do it now," Kassem said. "I told him it was a crime to have that many presses not doing anything with all the demand for vinyl."
To press his case, Kassem offered to get the machines running and train people to run them.
"He admired what we had done and wanted to duplicate that, but hadn't," Kassem said. "He wanted them to go to the right place."
Kassem did not say how much he paid for the presses, which "were in horrible shape." Restoration work has already started, and Kassem expects the machines to be ready in about a year.