Paint is worth a thousand dollars a gallon at an auction.
Peter G. "Chipper" Johnson remembers his first Ritchie Bros. auction well. "It was very exciting," he recalls. Chipper was just a teenager at the time, working summers as a laborer at Hoover Construction, the Minnesota-based highway heavy contractor established in 1956 by his grandfather.
In the following years, Chipper worked his way up through the ranks at Hoover: from laborer in high school, to foreman in college, to superintendent and finally, president, a position he's held since 1996.
Growing up in the construction industry and becoming the third-generation owner of a company that's been in business for more than half a century has allowed Chipper—and Hoover Construction—to build a strong relationship with Ritchie Bros.
"I have known about Ritchie Bros. for basically my entire life because our company has always used auctions and Ritchie Bros. has always been the most reputable of all the auction companies," he says.
While Chipper enjoys the thrill of auction day, ultimately he maintains Hoover's longstanding relationship with Ritchie Bros. because of its dedication to quality customer service and true unreserved auctions.
"I have tried other auction companies and have run into some problems," he explains. "With one company I thought I had purchased a couple of pieces of equipment because I was the highest bidder, but it turned out my bids had not reached their pre-set reserve price so I didn't get them. I was upset because I was so used to the Ritchie Bros. unreserved policy with no minimum bids. I think that is the only true and fair auction style."
Chipper also appreciates the certainty of Ritchie Bros.' unreserved policy when he's selling.
"When you try to sell equipment on your own you don't know how long it's going to take for a buyer to come along," says Chipper. "With Ritchie Bros. you know it will sell on a specific day—it's a done deal—and there is no bill collecting. They sell it, we get paid."
As a full-service auction company, Ritchie Bros. takes care of every aspect of the sale process for consignors, from marketing to collection of proceeds. One of the services Chipper values most: on-site refurbishing. After years of buying and selling equipment, he understands the value of making an old machine look new again. His company paints every piece they sell—often on their own—but if they're busy with too many jobs they know they can count on Ritchie Bros. to make it shine again.
"Paint is worth a thousand dollars a gallon at an auction," says Chipper. "When you have two machines in the same condition underneath, the equipment that looks nice typically sells for more."
After decades of attending Ritchie Bros. auctions, Chipper still finds them exciting – but it's the fair auction policies and excellent service he receives that will keep him coming back for years to come.
"We've always had great relationships with all the people we've dealt with at Ritchie Bros. through the years," says Chipper. "Every time I call for information about equipment I get a quick and detailed response. I feel like my business is valued."
Written and published: 2009