To attend in person and bid at a Ritchie Bros. auction fills your entire body with adrenaline. A sea of yellow iron combined with the fast-paced chanting of the auctioneer and the crowd — it's a beautiful feeling.
Some people are destined to work with heavy equipment. "When I was six years old, I received a mini tractor as a gift from my mom's boss," says Mario Humberto Patiño Manrique, managing director of Comercializadoria de Maquinaria S.A. de C.V. (COMAQSA), a Tijuana-based equipment dealer with locations in Mexico and Colombia. "Who would have thought that one day industrial machinery—the bigger versions of that mini tractor I took care of for so many years—would be my life."
After many years as a building contractor in Northwestern Mexico, Mario began to notice a shift in demand for construction projects in 1998 and 1999. "There were less construction projects available at the time, but even more, the impact was felt by the significant decline in the value of any existing projects," recalls Mario. His equipment started to spend more time idle than working.
"That's when people would begin calling me to say, ‘If you're not putting those machines to work, I'll buy them from you.' I would then buy a newer machine and sell that one as well."
Soon people were calling Mario looking for equipment instead of construction projects. "Very soon I was operating in the heavy equipment resale business. That's when I decided to take it to the next level by opening up the first COMAQSA branch in Baja California, in Tijuana."
Mario would often travel across the nearby US-Mexico border to purchase newer equipment at brokers and dealerships to then sell from his base in Tijuana—until one day a friend invited him to an unreserved equipment auction in Phoenix, Arizona. Having never attended a heavy equipment auction before, Mario didn't know what to expect.
"When I got there, to be honest it was as if a kid had arrived in Disneyland!" exclaims Mario. "To see so many yellow machines in one place combined with the crowd and the speed of the auction; it's a great spectacle."
Since his first auction in 1998, Mario has continued attending Ritchie Bros. auctions in Mexico, the U.S. and Canada. One thing that strikes him the most at different auctions: the people who work at Ritchie Bros.
"When the staff at Ritchie Bros. put on their orange uniforms, they put it on with pride and do it right," says Mario. "From the customer service personnel who provide you with a bidding catalog to the bid catcher on the ramp, everyone at Ritchie Bros. looks to do only one thing: obtain the satisfaction of their customers."
Mario has built a successful company during his years as a Ritchie Bros. customer. Doing business in the U.S., Mexico and Colombia, he is now introducing a second generation to the business of buying and selling equipment—and the joy of auctions. Mario Alexander or ‘Alex', the second of Mario's three sons, has been attending auctions with his father since the age of 16.
"I have a great responsibility as a future successor of my father: making sure that all of the years of hard work, the respect he's gained from his colleagues and friends like Ritchie Bros. as well as the impeccable reputation he's built for COMAQSA continue to shine under my watch," says Alex. The future looks bright—for both father and son.
Written and published: 2011