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WSM: Moving Heavy Equipment One Auction at a Time

When John Cadzow Sr. arrived in Phoenix, Ariz., in 1971, he likely could not have envisioned the busy auction site that now occupies 10 acres in the southeast corner of the city.

Thu August 20, 2015 - West Edition
Construction Equipment Guide

When John Cadzow Sr. arrived in Phoenix, Ariz., in 1971, he likely could not have envisioned the busy auction site that now occupies 10 acres in the southeast corner of the city.

A farmer and steel worker from western Pennsylvania, he had always dabbled in selling equipment, but the growth of what is now WSM Auctioneers would have been hard to predict.

After starting his own auction company in the 1970s, Cadzow Sr. went on to buy WSM Auctioneers in 1984. With his son, John Jr., running the company since 1998, WSM has grown to be the auction company of choice for many major utility companies in Arizona.

Today, nearly 75 percent of a WSM Auction consists of utility related equipment. A huge majority of Cadzow’s consignments come from his seven long-time customers: Arizona Public Service (APS) — the largest electric utility in Arizona; The Salt River Project — the largest water provider in central Arizona; Southwest Gas; Century Link; Maricopa County; the city of Tempe; and Fleet Remarketing Group.

Cadzow said that his relationship with most of these companies goes back 30-plus years.

As many as 50 bucket trucks, truck cranes and service trucks go through the auction monthly, in addition to dozens of fleet vehicles, heavy construction equipment, and building materials. A WSM auction is, in fact, four auctions in one. Simultaneously, utility and construction equipment along with fleet vehicles are sold in one section of the yard, while two building material sales are being conducted, and a fourth ring is dedicated to tools.

WSM auctions average more than 1,500 lots each month, so Cadzow’s full-time staff does not have much down time. After a Saturday sale, everything must be off the lot by the following Wednesday. New consignments begin arriving by that Friday, and the short cycle starts all over again. The lot is typically full one week prior to the sale date.

The company’s growth has not been without challenges. Cadzow said there is more competition in the auction business now, even compared with 1998, when he took over for “Big John,” his father. The company has kept pace with the changing landscape of the industry, though. Utilizing Proxibid and Bid Spotter, Cadzow said about 15 percent of successful bids are coming from the worldwide market.

Tighter margins also are a reality in today’s market, so Cadzow maintains a relatively small staff. Krista Merrow is the operations manager, and Renie Van Den Berg manages the yard, transportation and logistics. WSM has seven full-time employees and more than 50 workers on sale day.

“We are a small team of individuals, highly committed to meeting and exceeding the expectations of our customers,” said Cadzow. “We take pride in the reputation we have built for fair and honest dealing since day one.”

Cadzow backs his talk of fairness with action. Since 2011, he has worked with a small group of auctioneers to push Public Consignment Auction Dealer legislation through the Arizona legislature. He said the bills are aimed at protecting all parties in the auction sales process.

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