Ritchie Bros.' February Orlando auction is the premier auction of the year; it sets the stage for what's to come.
When Ring Power Corporation was founded in Florida in 1961, used equipment was thought to have "no value," says Frank Fowler, Ring Power's current Senior Vice President and Director of Used Sales. Ring Power became a full-line Caterpillar dealer in 1962 and is today one of the largest Cat dealers in the Southeastern U.S., with a 5,000-piece used equipment rental fleet that generates millions of dollars in revenue each year.
Ring Power accepted its first trade-in – an International Harvester TD9 crawler tractor – in the early 1970s, followed by a Cat D7E dozer. Suddenly, Ring Power had a used equipment rental fleet. Frank Fowler joined Ring Power in 1972; by the time he moved into the used equipment division in 1980, the company's rental fleet had grown exponentially.
"Our number one goal is to sell in-channel: retail or dealer-to dealer," says Frank. "However, this isn't always possible when you have a large fleet. That's why we started to look at alternative ways of selling."
Of all their available options, only one made sense to Ring Power. "We had a lot of under utilized rental equipment, trades and vehicles to dispose of, and we wanted to do it in a fast, efficient manner – not piece meal, over weeks or months," says Frank. "That's how we arrived at the unreserved auction concept. Where else can you have everything sold in one, two or three days – and get paid almost immediately?"
At the time, Ritchie Bros. was a young company, with limited operations in the U.S. But Ring Power was impressed by the company's unique approach to conducting auctions – driving mobile equipment over a ramp to show potential buyers what they were bidding on – and its commitment to no reserves and no buy-backs.
"With a truly unreserved auction you know that every bid is legitimate," says Frank. "People feel comfortable bidding, and that brings higher prices to the equipment."
In February 1984, Ritchie Bros. conducted its first unreserved auction in Orlando, Florida, with Ring Power as the primary consignor.
The auction was "a great success," says Frank, and marked the start of a partnership that has lasted for close to 25 years. Over the years, Ring Power has sold millions of dollars worth of equipment at Ritchie Bros. auctions and the annual Orlando auction has evolved into the highlight of the Ritchie Bros. auction calendar. The Ring Power auction became an annual event in Orlando – and evolved into the world's largest industrial auction.
"Ritchie Bros.' February Orlando auction is the premier auction of the year; it sets the stage for what's to come," says Frank. "The combination of Ring Power and Ritchie Bros. creates excitement and attracts people from all over the world. I think the success of these auctions is due to the integrity, honesty, ethics and dedication of both companies, striving to be number one."
Almost three decades later, Ritchie Bros.' February auction in Orlando is the largest equipment auction in the world. Ring Power is still a major consignor.
"Used equipment is now an integral part of our business and Ritchie Bros. auctions help us manage our fleet efficiently and effectively," says Frank. "I've really enjoyed working with Ritchie Bros. over the past twenty or more years. We have a strong relationship – a partnership."
Written and published: 2008