Ritchie Bros. hasn't lost that side of their culture – the ability to connect with customers on a personal level.
Much like Ritchie Bros., Leavitt Machinery is a British Columbia success story. The company was established in 2001 when Tom Leavitt acquired the materials handling division of Finning. At the time, Tom was the division's general manager and Finning, the world's largest Caterpillar dealer, was starting to focus more narrowly on its core heavy equipment business.
A number of Finning employees joined the new venture, including Bob McIntosh – now Leavitt's Used Equipment Manager. Since 2001 Leavitt has tripled in size, and now boasts 17 locations in British Columbia, Alberta and Washington State, with revenues in excess of $150 million.
"We're an authorized Caterpillar lift truck dealer, but we do so much more than that," says Bob. "We sell new and used materials handling, construction and aerial equipment from 13 reputable OEM brands and we're always adding new product lines. We also have a long and short term rental fleet and a parts and service team. Leavitt Machinery is more than just a forklift dealer."
Looking to showcase the full breadth of their growing product lineup to a wider audience, Leavitt's management team came up with a unique solution: have Ritchie Bros. conduct an auction. The auction, held at Leavitt's used equipment branch, featured a diverse selection of more than 180 equipment items and attracted over 400 bidders from across North America – and even overseas.
"Auction day was exciting," recalls Bob. "We were able to connect with so many new and existing customers, increase awareness of our expanded product lineup, tap into Ritchie Bros.' global network to reach customers from outside our regional market – and sell
some equipment. It was great just to be in the crowd, having a coffee with some customers, talking about equipment, talking about life."
Bob was impressed by how smoothly and professionally the auction was run, but even more so by how much effort Ritchie Bros. put into a two million dollar sale.
"The pre-auction marketing was exceptional, and then on auction day we had the president of Ritchie Bros. on site, with some of the strongest auctioneers working the crowd," says Bob. "We have a business relationship with Ritchie Bros., but there's a personal side to it as well. Despite its growth, Ritchie Bros. hasn't lost that side of their culture – the ability to connect with customers on a personal level, to empathize with smaller businesses and the challenges that they face. That means a lot to us."
Leavitt's inaugural auction was such a success that they asked Ritchie Bros. to organize a second auction just six months later, in March 2008. "We're looking forward to showcasing some of our construction equipment in the next auction," says Bob. "We're excited."
Written and published: 2008