Vancouver's Ritchie Bros elevated to TSX's top tier

Ritchie Bros. (TSX:RBA) is the world's largest industrial equipment auctioneer and the latest reshuffle of the Toronto Stock Exchange's indices sees the company elevated to the list of the most valuable Canadian companies.

Ritchie Bros will join the S&P/TSX Composite Index effective after the close of trading on Friday, June 21, when a handful of gold stocks including Gabriel Resources and Kirkland Lake will be kicked off.

Last year, the Burnaby-based auction company sold close to $4 billion worth of equipment and boasts 110 locations in 25 countries and 44 auction sites worldwide.

Ritchie Bros. Auctioneers was founded by brothers Ken, John and Dave Ritchie in 1955.

According to the company website they entered the auction business in 1958 when they needed CA$2,000 to pay a bank debt on short notice. A friend suggested they conduct an auction to get rid of some surplus inventory from the furniture store.

They conducted their first auction at the Scout Hall in Kelowna BC in 1958 and discovered a new way of doing business. The company move to Vancouver in 1963 and shortly conducted their first major unreserved industrial auction in Radium Hot Springs, British Columbia on June 7, 1963.

Starting with that first auction at the Scout Hall, Ritchie Bros. maintained a strict policy of conducting unreserved auctions – meaning there were no minimum bids and no reserve prices. The brothers also established a policy of not allowing bid-ins or buybacks by the sellers.

Last year the $2.3 billion company's biggest auction ever was held in Orlando, Florida where $203 million worth of equipment were sold over six days.

In April, Ritchie Bros launched a new eBay-style auction website called EquipmentOne.com and this year also conducted their first ever auction in China.

Last week Dave Ritchie sold his luxury condo in downtown Edmonton, Alberta for $3.25 million which according to the Edmonton Journal was a million dollars more than its 2012 tax assessed value.

Ahead of the auction Brian Glenn, vice-president of sales told the paper:

“When he and his brothers founded this company in the mid-’50s, they believed then and they believe today that this is the true environment at which to sell assets. It’s a fair, open, transparent environment whereby the buying public will determine the value on sale day.

“He’s putting his money where his mouth is.”

Ritchie sold his luxury yacht, the Apoise, for $46.6 million US at a Cayman Islands auction in 2010, a company record, but unlike the condo Dave Ritchie probably lost money on the boat.