From Kelowna to the globe: 60 years of growth

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Part 2 of Ritchie Bros.' 60-years series: looking back on our expansion into new territories, sectors, and geographies

historical Ritchie Bros. auction photo

As we described in the first blog of our 60-year retrospective series, Ritchie Bros. Auctioneers started in Kelowna, BC, when the three Ritchie brothers—John, Ken, and Dave—held an auction to pay off a bank loan. What may have started out of necessity, grew into a passion for the boys and took their company in new directions, new geographies, and new heights. This is the story of the company's expansion from B.C. to Canada, the United States, and the world.

Establishing a permanent presence in Canada

Ritchie Bros. Edmonton auction site

Ritchie Bros. started as the travelling auctioneer, going wherever the equipment was. Most of our early auctions were held in B.C., but we expanded to other parts of Canada through the mid-1960s, conducting our first auctions in Alberta (1964), the Yukon (1964), Saskatchewan (1965), Manitoba (1968), and other parts of Eastern Canada shortly thereafter.

In 1968, we held our first $1 million auction, in Edmonton, Alberta. And, with the strong auction culture in Alberta, felt it would be the perfect spot for our first permanent site, which we set up in Edmonton in 1976. The equipment would soon start coming to us.

Expanding beyond borders

auction brochures

While Ritchie Bros. was started in Canada, Dave Ritchie believed their auction model could work around the world. In 1970, we took our first steps beyond Canadian borders, with Ritchie Bros.' first auction in the United States, in Beaverton, OR. Slowly, we began holding more and more auctions around the United States—today we have 19 permanent auction sites in the U.S.

We conducted our first auction outside of North America in 1987, in Liverpool, UK, and Rotterdam, the Netherlands, selling equipment used to rebuild the Falkland Islands following the war there. Further international expansion followed with our first auctions in Australia (1990), Mexico (1995), the Middle East (1997), Africa (2003), and China (2013).

Ritchie Bros. goes public and expands its customer base

ag auction crowd

To aid the expansion of the company to new locales and into new sectors, Ritchie Bros. went public, beginning to trade on the New York Stock Exchange in 1998 and the Toronto Stock Exchange in 2004.

Ritchie Bros. then began a series of acquisitions, including Forke Brothers in 1999, an equipment auction company based in Nebraska, US, where we continue to house much of our US administrative operations. We then made our foray into the on-the-farm auction business with the acquisitions of All Peace Auctions (2002), LeBlanc Auction Service (2004), Dennis Biliske Auctioneers (2006), and Clarke Auctioneers (2007).

New sectors, new channels, and more

IronPlanet screenshot

In 2016, Ritchie Bros. announced the monumental acquisition of IronPlanet—allowing us to serve as a one-stop-shop, to help customers buy and sell assets when, where and how they want, whether onsite or online. The acquisition closed in June 2017.

With IronPlanet, we could now offer customers weekly online auctions, allowing them to sell quickly and from their own property. Then, leveraging the online expertise of IronPlanet, Ritchie Bros. launched a brand new online sales solution called Marketplace-E in late 2017, providing customers a sales channel with greater control over the selling price and process.

Along with IronPlanet's weekly auctions and the newly formed Marketplace-E, Ritchie Bros. was now also able to offer its customers the GovPlanet and Kruse Energy marketplaces. This opened up the company to new customers in the government, military, and oil & gas sectors.

Today, Ritchie Bros. helps hundreds of thousands of customers around the globe. We have gotten to where we are because of our customers and their trust in us. We're looking forward to the next 60 years!

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