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Ritchie Bros. auctions heavy equipment on West Plains

The world’s largest industrial auctioneer pitched a tent on the West Plains on Wednesday, and hundreds of bidders and onlookers inside and out watched an unbroken parade of trucks, Bobcats, cement mixers and much beefier construction equipment fall under a relentless hammer.

Craig Mills, manager of regional operations for Ritchie Bros. Auctioneers Inc., said 642 lots were scheduled for sale by the end of the day. There were no minimum prices, and owners were not allowed to bid for their own equipment.

“Everything you see in this yard at the end of the day will have a new owner,” he said before turning away to help clerks catch up with the backlog of late registrants.

Including Internet buyers, more than 700 were signed up by 9 a.m. By then, dozens of pickup trucks had already sold, at least one beat-up Ford for $500, and a chrome-wheeled Avalanche for almost 20 times that.

Auctioneer John Korrey rattled off lot numbers, bids, and occasional encouragement from an elevated booth facing the tent and oncoming traffic.

“Get ’em in a headlock,” he called out at one point.

When a self-propelled street broom rolled up, Cory advised his audience to “Clean up your act.”

The broom sold for $3,500 in less than one minute.

The names on some of the equipment were familiar. Shawn Montee Timber Co. let go 60 items. Several ACI Northwest vans went quickly.

Ted Condon, co-owner of the Barr Regional Bio-Industrial Park at Fishtrap, said he had purchased two pickups, one a 2006 three-quarter-ton Ford 350 with 30,000 miles on it. Winning bid: $6,000.

He was awaiting larger trucks he could use for hauling.

Gary Kalin was looking to buy an excavator and/or a mini-excavator for his Mead excavating business.

After two slow years, he said, “Business is picking up quite a bit.”

Kalin said he has purchased at auctions in the past, but more recently has stuck with dealers.

Ritchie’s reputation was a draw, he said. “It’s a good time to buy if you’ve got cash.”

Rick Bacon was not there to buy.

He said he was checking the market to see what potential customers of Triad Machinery might be looking for, and at what price.

Operators had pushed their equipment to get through 2008 and 2009, Bacon said. Now, they need new.

“There’s a lot of optimism,” he said. “It’s been a real good start to this year.”

Korrey, meanwhile, threatened to make a speech when the flow of machinery slackened.

“Roll ’em, roll ’em, roll ’em,” he said. “Keep ’em moving.”