The three Ritchie brothers conducted their first unreserved auction in 1958. The company they founded is now the world's largest industrial auctioneer: Ritchie Bros. Auctioneers.
Dave, Ken and John founded their company on two principles: conduct strictly unreserved auctions and treat every customer with fairness and respect.
Over the years, Ritchie Bros. grew: conducting more auctions in more places. In 1998, the company went public and reported annual sales of US$1 billion.
Ritchie Bros. now sells more used equipment than any other company in the world - but we're still a lot like we were in 1958. Read our story below.
Ritchie Bros. Auctioneers began as a small family-run business in Kelowna, British Columbia, Canada. The three Ritchie brothers—Ken, Dave, John—conducted their first unreserved auction in 1958, selling CA$2,000 of surplus inventory from their furniture store to pay a bank debt. Spurred by their success, the brothers began conducting more regular auctions. They soon progressed beyond furniture, and in 1963 conducted their first unreserved industrial auction, selling US$600,000 worth of equipment.
Expansion across North America
As demand for the company’s unreserved auction services increased, Ritchie Bros. began to expand across North America. It opened its first office outside Canada in 1969 (in Washington State), followed by its first United States auction in 1970. Ritchie Bros.’ unreserved auctions were well accepted by the U.S. market and by 1985 – 27 years after its first auction – the company had sold more than one billion dollars of equipment. It took only three more years for Ritchie Bros. to gross its second billion dollars. In 1998 the company’s annual gross auction proceeds exceeded one billion dollars for the first time.
In the late 1980s Ritchie Bros. started to expand internationally, conducting its first auctions in Europe in 1987, followed by Australia (1990), Asia (1994), Mexico (1995), the Middle East (1997) and Africa (2003). Now headquartered in Vancouver, British Columbia, Ritchie Bros. is a truly global company, with over 110 locations worldwide, including more than 40 auction sites. The company went public in 1998, and is now listed on the New York and Toronto stock exchanges under the trading symbol RBA. Within a decade of going public, Ritchie Bros.’ annual gross auction proceeds exceeded three billion dollars for the first time.
Although Ritchie Bros. has grown since 1958, the principles upon which it was founded remain the same: treating customers fairly and maintaining the highest standards of business ethics. Every Ritchie Bros. auction is completely unreserved – meaning there are no minimum bids and no reserve prices, and every item is sold to the highest bidder on auction day. Bid-ins and buy backs are also forbidden, which means that only legitimate bidders are able to raise the bid price.
Working for buyers and sellers
The knowledge that Ritchie Bros. auctions are fair and transparent is one reason that every auction attracts hundreds, even thousands of bidders from around the world – helping equipment sellers transcend local market conditions and achieve global fair market value for their valuable assets. Although many people are willing to travel long distances to attend Ritchie Bros. auctions, bidders who can’t make it to the auction site on sale day can bid over the internet, live and in real time, using the company’s online bidding service.
Ritchie Bros. Auctioneers today
Under the leadership of CEO Peter Blake, Ritchie Bros. Auctioneers maintains the tradition of innovation and exceptional customer service that was established by the Ritchie brothers. After five decades of growth and success, Ritchie Bros. continues to offer compelling business solutions that enable the world’s builders to easily and confidently exchange equipment.