Holm Bros. Construction started out like Ritchie Bros. – a small business run by brothers. Both companies have grown and changed hands. Willy Holm Jr. now looks after the family business – and counts himself as a loyal Ritchie Bros. customer.
It's the down-home relationship he's built with Ritchie Bros. over the years that keeps Willy coming back.
Everyone at the auction site remembers my name.
Willy Holm is extremely proud to be working for the company his father and uncle started in Goodhue, Minnesota in 1953. As a teenager, Willy worked side by side with his dad. A sense of family pride brought him back to Holm Bros. Construction after college and he's worked for the company ever since, becoming its president in 2006. "I was raised in this line of work," says Willy. "I just enjoy the whole aspect of working outside and meeting other people."
One thing Willy has learned over the years is that in his line of work – heavy highway construction and limestone crushing production – good, reliable equipment is essential. As a buyer, Willy leans toward name brands such as Caterpillar and Mack because parts are easier to come by. For many years, Holm Bros. bought most of its used equipment directly from manufacturers or local dealers. And then Ritchie Bros. came to town.
Willy will never forget the first Ritchie Bros. auction he attended when the company opened an auction site in Minnesota in 1991. "It had a professional feel," he recalls. "I was used to going to auctions where you basically walked around in a crowd to each piece of equipment and bid on it. At Ritchie Bros. they more or less bring the equipment to you. They are dealing with all that heavy equipment but they run a very clean operation. Everything is done first class. You can just tell Ritchie Bros. is in the business of being auctioneers."
Another thing that impressed him: the transparency of the auctions. "I like the fact that there are no buy backs and no minimums at Ritchie Bros. auctions," says Willy. "It gives you more of a fair outlook on purchasing a piece of equipment."
Willy became a regular buyer at Ritchie Bros. auctions. He later began using Ritchie Bros. to sell some of his company's surplus equipment. "As consignors, we have always been treated very professionally," says Willy.
"Dave, my territory manager is a good guy and he treats me fairly. Everyone at the auction site remembers my name. It's kind of nice that they give it that personalized touch. Even though Ritchie Bros. is a huge company, it has that down-home relationship with its customers."
In early 2009, with the U.S. in the midst of recession and less work available, Holm Bros. decided to downsize its fleet. In the face of uncertainty, Willy chose the certainty of selling his equipment through Ritchie Bros. He's having some scrapers, a couple of dozers and an excavator refurbished on-site at Ritchie Bros. before they sell in an upcoming auction.
And when the economy improves, Willy knows exactly what he'll do: sign up to bid at an unreserved Ritchie Bros. auction. It's what he's been doing for years – and will be doing for a long time to come.
Written and published: 2009