You don't need rubber boots to stomp around this auction site. You just need your computer and maybe a cup of coffee.
IronPlanet (www.ironplanet.com) is an online auction company for used construction and agricultural equipment. Launched in 1999, the company is backed by venture capital firms Accel Partners and Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, along with OEM investors Caterpillar, Komatsu and Volvo.
Although they have always sold ag machines, IronPlanet is expanding its inventory for the farm market.
"Just as road builders need tractors, farmers need skid steers and other pieces of equipment,” explains Paul Blalock, vice president of agricultural sales for IronPlanet.
He says it is a natural fit for the site to expand its inventory of ag equipment because of this crossover.
"Prior to 2008, ag equipment made up a low percentage of total sales, but that percentage is growing with each auction,” Blalock says. "We have 370,000 registered bidders, and a large portion of that base has identified themselves as farmers.”
Registration for the site is free. Featured auctions are held at a minimum of every two weeks, and the site also holds one-owner and hosted auctions.
During the auction preview—the two weeks prior to a featured auction—buyers can research equipment and place bids before the auction opens. The listings include pictures and a description of the machine.
During the auction, each item has a 10-minute bidding window. Registered bidders can bid in real time.
Large draw. IronPlanet auctions attract 12,000 or more potential bidders, with an average of more than 500 lots per auction, Blalock says.
"With the Web you have a global marketplace, and you can entertain bids from more people than you could fit into a physical location,” he says.
As for who is listing their equipment in these auctions, the sellers are as diverse as the buyers.
"We have many different kinds of sellers on our site, from customers who are only listing one dozer to large equipment dealers,” Blalock says.
Equipment sold through IronPlanet stays on the seller's lot until IronPlanet confirms payment. Once payment is received, the seller is notified to release the equipment. Instead of doing repairs before the auction, the units are sold as-is, and IronPlanet allows sellers to decide how much to spend in make-ready repairs on their equipment.
When a piece of equipment is sold, the buyer is responsible for arranging its transportation.
Most units have undergone an inspection by a trained IronPlanet inspector. This is part of the optional IronClad Assurance program that guarantees the accuracy of the inspection report and includes information, such as engine oil and hydraulic oil analysis. After receipt, the buyer has 24 hours to review the equipment and verify its condition, with IronPlanet mitigating any dispute. The IronClad Assurance program has a repeat buyer rate of 75%.
The site's largest featured auction to date took place on Jan. 31, 2008, which totaled $19 million in gross auction sales. About one-quarter of the equipment bought during the Jan. 31 auction was shipped to international buyers.
IronPlanet has expanded its global presence by hosting an auction for Australian equipment and has grown its North American business by adding a manager in Canada, as well as territory managers for that country.
Using a site like IronPlanet is similar to buying your equipment from an auction lot, but you may be buying it from across the country or the globe.
More Online Auctions For Iron
- Three major equipment manufacturers use the power of the Internet to auction used equipment. Each Web site maintains its own user policies and agreements. AGCO: Farmers can find the inventory of the AGCO Finance division listed on its Web site, http://agcofinance.hotbidding.com/auction. AGCO Finance is the only entity selling equipment on the site. A partnership with IronPlanet enables AGCO?dealers to list their equipment for auction on the site.
- CNH: Case IH and New Holland dealers can list their machines on www.eqpower.com. The site only allows registered dealers to list and buy the featured equipment, but anyone can browse the full listing.
- John Deere: This past year, John Deere interfaced its UsedXpress system with eBay (www.ebay.com). Individual inventories of John Deere dealers are also available for online auctions on the company's global Web site for equipment listings, www.machinefinder.com.
You can e-mail Margy Fischer at firstname.lastname@example.org.