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Published July 19, 2005
Volume 13, Number 7



Iron Planet Makes Construction Equipment Auctions Pay off for Buyers and Sellers
Hacienda Company Has Moved Nearly $340 Million of Equipment in Five Years

Iron PlanetWeb
Iron Planet is about to reach a milestone: the 15,000th piece of construction equipment sold through their auctions.


By George Walsh
Special to NETWORK



If you intend to buy a used car, your options include perusing the local want ads and checking out local used car lots. However, if you’re looking for a 2001 Caterpillar TH63 Telescopic Rough Terrain Forklift, your options are a little more limited. Thanks to the efforts of home-grown Hacienda tenant Iron Planet, at 4695 Chabot Drive, that forklift and many other pieces of construction equipment are now as close as your computer screen—whether it’s for sale around the block or on the other side of the world. Iron Planet, now the third-largest construction equipment auction company in North America and the leading online auctioneer of construction equipment worldwide, has sold nearly 15,000 items totaling in the area of $340 million to date.

“Iron Planet was conceived as an alternative auction channel for construction equipment,” says Bill Coleman, COO of Iron Planet. “The physical auction channel had several requirements that it placed on buyers and sellers that weren’t optimal. Buyers had to travel long distances to go to auctions where they would incur travel time and cost, whether or not they placed the winning bid. When they bought a piece of equipment, it was theirs, even if they didn’t have a chance to assess its condition. Sellers, on the other hand, had to spend a lot of money to move their pieces to the auction, wait for the auction to occur—which was usually on a quarterly basis—and pay the cost of refurbishing the equipment if the auctioneer required it.”

Iron Planet saw that there was a need for both buyers and sellers of construction equipment to have a more expeditious and cost-effective means to complete transactions. The company was created to fulfill these needs five years ago. “We decided that the Internet provided a way to address all of the complications of buying and selling equipment while letting the people involved in the transactions participate regardless of where they were located,” Coleman says.

Iron Planet has over 200,000 customers in more than 200 countries worldwide that buy equipment via the company’s online auctions. A large part of the company’s success is due to the fact that buyers don’t have to inspect the items they are buying. This is made possible by Iron Planet’s network of over 400 inspectors around the U.S. All of the inspection data is compiled into a report that is provided free of charge to bidders. “If there’s any discrepancy between the report and the condition of the equipment that the buyer receives, we do whatever is necessary to ensure that the transaction is completed in a satisfactory way,” Coleman says.

Iron Planet spent its first six months of business in incubator spaces in Palo Alto and moved to Hacienda in the summer of 2000. The company now has 18 employees working in its Pleasanton offices with other facilities in Texas, Alabama, and Georgia. The company’s success rate is impressive, with 98% of the items listed for auction being bought and sold.

 

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