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The kings of auctioneering

Ritchie Bros. has come a long way since its modest B.C. beginnings


EDMONTON, Alta. — From its humble beginnings in Kelowna, B.C., Ritchie Bros. Auctioneers have come a long way since Ken, John, and Dave Ritchie held their first unreserved auction in 1958.

One of the most recent auctions just outside Edmonton in Nisku, Alta., Ritchie Bros. sold more than $207 million of equipment to over 14,000 bidders from 59 countries, including more than 9,750 online buyers.

“Our auction in Edmonton last week featured some of the cleanest, low-hour equipment available on the market today, attracting a huge number of global buyers,” said Brian Glenn, senior vice-president, Ritchie Bros. following the April 24-28 auction. “We once again saw strong participation from western Canadian registrants, bidding aggressively as they’re looking to purchase equipment for the spring construction season, resulting in strong pricing across most equipment categories.”

The April auction was Ritchie Bros.’ largest Canadian auction of the year, bringing in more money and selling more items than the founding brothers could have imagined possible back in the ’50s.

“It would be really hard to make a comparison to what the business looked like in the ’50s to what it is now,” said Ryan Eacrett, regional sales manager, Edmonton east, for Ritchie Bros. “What we’re blessed with here in Alberta is that this is probably one of the most auction-savvy markets in the world. We have a very high level of familiarity with our business in this contracting and construction space, so this is just ingrained in the way a lot of guys manage their fleets.”

Ritchie Bros.’ location in Nisku sits on 250 acres, with 50 being added a couple of years ago to meet growing demand. The first location – situated across the street – opened in 1976, but with a need for more space, the auctioneers moved in 2002 to where it is now, east of Hwy 2 near the Edmonton International Airport.

“As the economy in Alberta has grown and boomed, so has the demand for equipment, which has fueled our growth,” said Eacrett, “so we’ve grown up right alongside some of the bigger contractors in the province and in Western Canada, which has been cool to be part of.”

Depending on the year and season, demand for certain types of equipment changes. Right now, construction equipment is in high demand, such as dozers, excavators, and graders.

“There’s a known shortage of supply at the OEM level, which is obviously fueling demand for used resale in the market, which can be beneficial for us,” Eacrett explained. “But it could be a totally different story six months from now.”

Some of the equipment that sold during the recent Nisku auction included three 2014 Caterpillar D6T LGP crawler tractors for a combined $1.29 million, and on the tractor side, a 2014 Kenworth C500 T/A bed truck that garnered $410,000 and 2014 Kenworth C500B T/A tri-drive boom truck for $355,000.

Approximately 89% of the equipment auctioned was sold to Canadian buyers, with 55% from Alberta. Buyers from the U.S. and other countries, such as China and the United Arab Emirates, made up 11%.

Fifty-eight per cent was sold online.

“We’re constantly surprised when we look at where stuff goes and the strength of the local market,” Eacrett said. “A lot of what we sell is staying within if not Alberta, Western Canada, which is great because that means there are things happening locally as well.”


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