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Pickles guides crane businesses through crane retirement auctions

Pickles Auctions helps crane owners through the process of crane retirement auctions

Pickles National Sales Manager, James Chauncy, talks business closures, the booming used crane industry, and the increase in crane retirement auctions.

Throughout the last few years, businesses from Australia’s industrial sector have found it increasingly difficult to source new equipment – none moreso than crane operators. With new assets sparse and slow to reach Australian shores, the demand for quality used cranes has grown steadily into and throughout 2023. This has created a thriving hub of both buyers and sellers looking for solutions to their business needs for used asset specialists like Pickles.

For Pickles’ National Sales Manager of Trucks & Machinery James Chauncy, this increased demand for cranes has led to the creation of a specialised marketplace where both buyers and sellers win.

Pickles Auctions helps crane owners through the process of crane retirement auctions
Pickles, National Sales Manager, Trucks and Machinery, James Chauncy.

Interestingly for James, the most important aspect of establishing a thriving crane marketplace has been in guiding sellers through the seemingly daunting process of closing. For many long established crane businesses who have decided to retire in 2023, the idea of ‘shutting up shop’ feels too final and intimidating an undertaking.

However, with the recent success in sales, James has seen the value in helping businesses with tailored solutions and proverbially holding their hand through the process. This can mean helping businesses offload one or two cranes to free up capital for new purchases, instead of offloading their whole fleet.

Given the current market, James knows that offloading crane assets in 2023 can create fortuitous results for businesses and inject much-needed equipment into the industry. That’s why Pickles is structured to assist businesses that are considering selling equipment. Throughout 2023, Pickles has successfully hosted a number of crane specific auctions and found operators to be satisfied with not just the results, but also the service. Its most recent sale, a huge auction on behalf of Tolsaf Cranes, generated results that had vendors, bidders and Pickles satisfied.

“The Tolsaf Cranes Business Closure Auction was our most recent sale, and that was really successful. It took place just before the end of the financial year and it generated $6.3 million plus in sales. We had a 96 per cent clearance rate and the family (vendors) just kept one small truck to run around town in. Probably the most expensive asset was a 130t Lieberr and there was a range of all terrains, Frannas, prime movers and tilt trays,” said James.

In order to guide businesses through an auction, he and his team go to great lengths to organise every facet of the sale and make the auction as seamless and painless as possible for their vendors.

“The process is sparked by a conversation with one of our 50+ sales executives. They handle different regions around the country. For Tolsaf Cranes, we had one sales executive, Tosh, work exclusively with them for 12 months leading up to the sale.

“When the family decided they were ready to retire, Tosh and I met with them to get a better understanding of what their expectations were, what they could and couldn’t do and what their timeline was. Our aim is to take the pressure off the customers, particularly during times of heightened stress like shutting down a business after so many years. We know that when a client comes to us for a business closure sale, they already have their plates full with organising their final months of operation. So we like to take the whole reins for the auction, including dedicating a full team to helping their closure. This can sometimes entail sending a project team to unpack up to 50 years worth of crane ancillary gear and paperwork. We then manage everything from a chain to a crane – and we’ve got the experts that do it,” said James.

James goes on to explain the emphasis that Pickles places on the details. From inspecting and presenting assets down to the smallest detail to help their bidders complete online inspections, to carefully ensuring they get the right specifications of each and every single item, Pickles takes care of every detail. 

All this happens before Pickles’ team of marketing specialists begins a tailored digital campaign specifically for the one auction.

“If a crane has two winches, we make sure it’s listed with two winches and has photos to reflect this. We focus on adding value for potential buyers, particularly for bidders who might be on the other side of the country or even overseas in the UAE, Egypt, or Asia who won’t be coming to inspect the equipment before the auction,” James said. 

As a digital-first auction house, Pickles is meticulous about its online listings and pays close attention to sourcing all of the details needed for buyers to make informed purchases from an online auction. For crane sales this can include annual crane certificates, 10 yearly and major rebuild reports and any service and maintenance history for individual assets. 

“It’s really important that we upload all the details onto the auction listing, alongside top quality images of the asset. Some buyers are so desperate for assets that they plan on putting the equipment to work as soon as the auction finishes. And in some workplaces, you’ve got to show previous service and maintenance history to put an asset into operation,” he said.

For businesses deciding whether to take the leap, the first question is often about the timeline. How quickly assets can be offloaded greatly impacts businesses, specifically for those looking to retire.

Luckily, from the initial conversation with a Pickles Sales Executive to the auction day, the whole process can be completed in roughly six to seven weeks. During the lead up to the sale, several Pickles’ departments will move like cogs in a clock to ensure maximum sales results and ultimate convenience for the vendor. 

The finance department will make sure the funds and details are organised so the vendor can be paid as quickly as possible, and the marketing team will create a huge pre-sale campaign to reach a huge audience of potential buyers.

Most importantly, Pickles places an emphasis on post-sale care for their vendors. This aftercare includes quick payment and asset management while the equipment makes its way to new homes.  

“At the end of the day, we’re in partnership with businesses and buyers to help everyone find what they need. Anything to do with trucks, cranes, trailers, earthmoving, ag, whatever the industry is, we can help,” James said.  


Pickles Auctions helps crane owners through the process of crane retirement auctions
The Tolsaf Cranes Business Closure Auction was a great success for Pickles.
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