I fully enjoy the sales. I always have, my father always did, and a couple of my boys go to the sales and they love it too.
Four generations of the Isley family have grown D & J Isley and Sons from a small business in Grande Prairie, Alberta into one of the largest logging companies in Canada. While Ritchie Bros. has been around for a long time, the company is young in comparison to the Isley family business, which is now run by brothers Roy and Morgan Isley.
"Our family has been here since 1927, starting out in farming and logging, and we've just been carrying on that way," says Roy. Over the past eight decades the company has become highly diverse, with interests in logging, construction, gravel, maintenance and even snowplowing. Roy and Morgan joined the family business in the late 1970s.
Just like their father Day, Roy and Morgan do the majority of their equipment buying and selling at unreserved Ritchie Bros. auctions.
"On average we run about 300 pieces of heavy iron, so we're buying, selling, upgrading and trading equipment all the time," says Roy. "Ritchie Bros. has done most of our sales since 1978. My father first went to the auctions and he started bringing me and training me, and gave me some insight into it. There is a bit of a science to the sales and you have to be very disciplined. We take it very seriously; I prepare myself several days before the sale. I stay up late at night figuring out my strategy for the sale the next day."
Over the years, the Isleys have developed strong friendships with many staff at Ritchie Bros. – as well as Dave Ritchie, one of the founders of Ritchie Bros.
"I have a lot of deep-rooted friends at Ritchie Bros. and our family has longstanding ties with the company," says Roy. "From the beginning, they've treated us as a real class act and we've always tried to do the same back. Dave Ritchie always amazes me because – despite all the people he knows in the world – he always remembers your name. He always tries to put that personal touch back into the business, and I think that's Dave's biggest success in life."
The personal touch of not only Dave but the other people he worked with caused Roy to get the auction bug, and now he's passing it onto the next generation of Isleys. Both Roy and Morgan's children now attend the auctions – and the brothers are teaching their kids to bid, just as their dad taught them.
"We're passing it onto the next generation, which will be generation four; I have three sons in the business, and Morgan has a daughter," says Roy. "I've been training them on how to buy and sell at Ritchie Bros. auctions, which is important for our business."
But for Roy, attending Ritchie Bros. auctions is not just about business.
"I fully enjoy the sales," he says. "I always have, my father always did, and a couple of my boys go to the sales and they love it too. I even let one of my boys buy a couple of trucks at a recent sale."
The family tradition of going to Ritchie Bros. auctions will carry on for the Isleys.
"The way it has worked is that one of us goes to the auctions, and then brings the next generation of Isleys in. My dad taught me the process, and now I'm passing it on to the next generation. It's set up that way, and we'll carry on like that."
Written and published: 2008