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AN Interview With Jack Lyon

Fri February 25, 2011 - Northeast Edition
Construction Equipment Guide

Charlie Kelton, owner, General Truck & Equipment, Westminster Station, Vt., sat down with Jack Lyon, owner of Alex Lyon & Son Sales Managers and Auctioneers Inc., to discuss, among other things, the auction company’s 18th Annual Florida Sale, which took place in Kissimmee, Fla., from Jan. 29 through Feb. 6, 2011.

How did the sale go?

A. Excellent. The tone of the sale was set with a winning bid of $365,000 on a Cat 980H loader.

Who were the buyers?

A. The buyers, both online and on-site, came from 48 states and 35 countries, some from as far away as Australia and South Korea.

How big was the sale?

A. It was the largest sale in Lyon’s 61-year history.

How many sales did Lyon Auction have in 2010?

A. We held 150 sales last year.

Who owns Alex Lyon & Son Auction House?

A. I own, as the old adage goes, the whole company “lock, stock & barrel.”

Who is Alex Lyon?

A. Alex is my father. He started the business in 1950, when he purchased a farm in Bridgeport, N.Y., and founded the Alex Lyon Livestock Company there, which focused primarily on the sale of cattle and farm machinery by public auction. I joined him in 1973 after I graduated from the University of Cincinnati with a marketing degree. I was interested in diversifying the business and started holding construction equipment sales regularly.

Was it a father/son business relationship?

A. Yes it was. But much more than that, growing up and working with my father at the farms were great years. Before Dad’s passing, he saw the beginning of the transition from a livestock sales barn to the Lyon’s Auction powerhouse it is today. The company is now known as Alex Lyon and Son Sales Managers and Auctioneers Inc. and we focus on holding construction equipment auctions large and small all across the United States. With buyers representing all 50 states regularly attending our sales and even customers from outside the country bidding online and in person, the company has grown to be one of the largest of its type in North America.

How old are you?

A. I will be 60 in May.

Do you have any family?

A. I have a sister and two nieces.

Do you do anything else besides work?

A. Not much, however I am a basketball fan of the Syracuse Orangemen.

Is Lyon Auction a One-Man Show?

A. Not really, although it is true that the train doesn’t run unless I say so. However, I have some very capable people at the sales locations and back at the corporate office, which is on the farm where my father sold cows.

Jack, you sometimes say from the auction block, that you have to “get home to milk the cows.” So, do you?

A. That’s half right. I have cows on several farms and in fact I had 250 this past winter but when it is time to milk, I sell them.

How does Alex Lyon & Son compare in size to other auction houses?

A. Lyon Auction is the second largest equipment auction house in North America.

Why are you so successful in the equipment auction business?

A. Probably for many reasons: I’m a workaholic, I like people and meet them well and before every sale you will find me shaking hands with potential bidders (I would have made a good politician as I remember first names). My byline to potential customers is, “I am not God but I will do the best I can.”

Jack, what does the future hold for you and your company?

A. I have many choices and on Sunday mornings when I check out the cattle at the farm after being brought in by my Learjet overnight, I do think about the future. One thing for sure, the part of the auction business that I like the best is being an auctioneer and that could continue even if I decided to sell the Alex Lyon & Son Auction House. CEG

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