From Alaska to Orlando: our most historic auctions

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drone view of an auction site

Part 3 of Ritchie Bros.' 60-years series: our historic auctions remembered.

Six decades in business and 7,000+ auctions around the globe – the evolution of Ritchie Bros. auctions is nothing short of remarkable. And to think it all started in a Kelowna, BC, furniture store in 1958.

Today, Ritchie Bros. has 40 permanent auction sites across the world with $4.5 billion in annual sales. We couldn't have gotten here without crossing a few milestones along the way, and that includes important auctions that moved us forward and expanded our capabilities. Here's a look at a few key auctions in our 60-year history.

First USA auction in Beaverton, Oregon

Seven years after its first industrial auction in Radium Hot Springs, BC, Ritchie Bros. planted its flag in the United States with the first auction held in Beaverton, Oregon in 1970. Today, Ritchie Bros. has 19 permanent auction sites in the U.S., with a central office in Lincoln, Nebraska and our largest industrial auction site located in Orlando, FL (more on that later).

Falkland Islands rebuild auction in Liverpool

Ritchie Bros. brochure advertising Liverpool auction in 1987

Our first auction outside of North America turned out to be a significant historic moment for multiple reasons. In 1982, Argentina occupied the British-controlled Falkland Islands and touched off a massive and ultimately futile battle for the islands about 300 miles off the coast.

When the war finished, Britain embarked on a reconstruction effort to rebuild the airport, dock facilities and other infrastructure. Five years later, Ritchie Bros. was called in to help resell the equipment used in the rebuild. The auction was held in Liverpool, England on April 7-8, 1987.

Exxon Valdez

Photo from famous Exxon Valdez auction around 1989

The Exxon Valdez was one of the worst environmental disasters in history. A massive oil tanker ran aground near Valdez port in Alaska in 1989, spilling over 10 million gallons of crude into the pristine waters of the Prince William Sound. The accident contaminated thousands of miles of shoreline and killed countless wildlife.

When the cleanup effort was over, the work was just starting for Ritchie Bros., which was tasked with selling the equipment used in the effort. Ritchie Bros. auctioned off 9700+ lots of equipment over four days in Anchorage, AK, smashing registered bidder records with 8,000. Buyers bid on everything from animal shampoo to mobile homes to trucks and vans.

Ritchie buys farm with All Peace Auctions

Photo of Ritchie Bros. auction after All Peace acquisition

Ritchie Bros. began sowing seeds in the agricultural equipment industry around 2002. While closing in on $1.4 billion in annual sales, Ritchie Bros. was looking for growth opportunities, which included the acquisition of All Peace Auctions, a northern Alberta auctioneer specializing in ag equipment.

This acquisition included a permanent auction site in Grande Prairie, Alberta of more than 30 acres and helped expand Ritchie Bros.' footprint in farming equipment industry. Today, Ritchie Bros. regularly hosts on-the-farm auctions, as well as ag-focused site auctions across North America, Europe and Australia.

Auctions get extraordinary in Orlando

Aerial image of Orlando auction yard in 2018

Because of its geographic location with close proximity to shipping ports, Orlando has become a key auction site in the story of Ritchie Bros. Around 2002, Ritchie Bros. bought 136 acres owned by the University of Florida to build a state-of-the-art auction facility.

Today it is home to some of Ritchie's biggest auctions, including the first time we crossed the $200 million single auction sale threshold in 2012. This year, on our anniversary year, Ritchie Bros. held its largest auction ever, selling $278 million of equipment and trucks over six days in February 2018. We can't wait to see what the future brings.

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