Heavy equipment up for sale as contractors find fewer jobs

A pair of temporary employees place stickers Tuesday on the glass of a row of excavators as Ritchie Brothers prepares for its upcoming heavy equipment auction, 2012 River Rd., beginning at 8:00 a.m. on Thursday. The auction will offer 309 lots of heavy equipment, with some of the lots featuring multiple items.


Riverbend Machinery of Fruita is experiencing a slight upswing in business.

Rifle Equipment Inc. Sales & Rental is seeing a continuing slowdown.

On Thursday, the two companies will be participating at the same Richie Bros. Auctioneers auction, 2012 River Road, in Fruita.

On the block will be an array of earth-moving and construction equipment. Some of the participating companies are selling to raise necessary cash. Others are unloading equipment they cannot rent and can- not sell themselves.

“With us, we are starting to see a pickup going on in the oil fields, which is surprising because it has been down,” said Ron Johnson, owner of Riverbend Machinery, 2301 Grand Park Drive, Grand Junction. “It is not great out there by any means. It is kind of a day-by-day thing.”

Johnson said he is replacing old equipment with new.

Dan Gallagher, a salesman at the overstocked Rifle Equipment, 1605 Airport Road, in Rifle, said he is not looking forward to the fall.

Usually, much of the rental equipment is bought by contractors near the end of the year when options on the equipment are due to expire.

But this year, Gallagher said he’s not expecting to see a lot of those kinds of sales.

“There’s not a lot to look forward to this year,” he said. “Right now, there isn’t a lot that is under option.”

And so there is an auction.

Much of the equipment will not stay in the area. Johnson said he suspects 40 percent will stay in western Colorado, and 60 percent will leave the state. He says that’s because of the drop-off in the oil and gas fields.

Subcontractors who used to be able to line up jobs six months in advance are now taking it one week at a time, uncertain of the future. The same can be said of home and commercial builders. The work that was plentiful a year ago is now gone.

“Our whole economy is contractor-based, people are finding out,” Johnson said.

A reflection of Johnson’s statement, perhaps, can be seen in the array of smaller items for sale Thursday.

Tool-belt fillers and many other implements of the construction industry at the auction come from the defunct Hertz Equipment Rental, formerly at 2311 Logos Drive, in Grand Junction.

Thursday’s auction has no minimum bids and no reserves. Bidding, on the 309 items for sale, can be done in person or online. Anyone thinking of buying may inspect the equipment before making a bid, according to Richie Bros. Web site.

“It is up to the customer to inspect,” said Steve Merich, regional sales manager for Richie Bros.

He said he anticipates the auction will generate in the neighborhood of $4 million, approximately 20 percent below what he would have anticipated one year ago.

“It is unfortunate. We conduct auctions in every market,” Merich said. “This isn’t just a local problem, or a country, or a continent issue. It is across the entire world. We have never seen prices fall off everywhere like they have in the last 18 months.”


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