Established over 50 years ago, Pickles has progressed to be Australia’s leading auction,valuation and advisory partner, with earthmoving equipment being high on their portfolio.Throughout its growth – from auction rooms to leading digital applications – Pickles vision and values have remained the same: a genuine commitment to customer service, maximising returns on every asset sold and connecting buyers to the right machine.
Peter Pickles started from humble beginnings as a stock and station agent in Moree. He then moved to Sydney in 1973 to conduct antique, fine arts and salvage vehicle auctions. Establishing himself as a leader in asset remarketing, Peter’s company grew over the following decades, expanding exponentially toward the end of the century as the dot-com boom took hold. Always ahead of the game, Pickles launched their website in 1996 when the Internet was still in its infancy in Australia.
The current CEO, Bruce Maclennan, first began working at Pickles around this same time. “I started with the company as a trainee auctioneer and valuer, working my way through various roles at the Sydney branch in Belmore,” Bruce recollected. “The business grew rapidly; we went from three branches when I started 22 years ago, to 17 in just seven years. When I started there were 100 employees; today we have over 900.”
With expert knowledge in valuation markets and firsthand experience in all forms of buying, selling and auctioneering, Pickles began looking at the best ways to connect sellers and buyers and to streamline their operational flow. While broadening their physical footprint, they set about pioneering new online systems, which revolutionised the industry. These started out as early-model internal systems to improve vendor and customer relations. In 2000 they launched Pickles Auction System (PAS), a comprehensive, data-rich site that helps the team value assets quickly, accurately and efficiently. Pickles Advanced Information Reporting System (PAIRS), was then developed, which helps manage vendor relationships and provides real-time asset tracking.
“Technology has been instrumental in the growth of Pickles,” Bruce readily acknowledged. “We have some key systems that we’ve developed in house that are very innovative and which have really set us apart from our competition. These systems gave us a great springboard to attract and manage clients nationally.”
Just as state-of-the-art technological advancements helped behind the scenes with their infrastructure, Pickles’ groundbreaking digital interfaces that they began releasing to the general public improved user experiences and accessibility. Back in 2002 they created a remote bidding platform, and then in 2004 PicklesLIVE was born. PicklesLIVE is innovative software technology that streams the auction in real-time, allowing customers to be part of the action while bidding online from anywhere.
“The shift in buyer behaviour has seen our online sales increase by 40 per cent in recent years,” Bruce revealed, “and our website traffic continues to grow, with more than 15 million impressions every month.
Over 10 dedicated industrial, trucks and machinery auctions are held monthly across the country, with most auctions available through PicklesLIVE.”
Despite the obvious importance of Pickles digital edge, Bruce Maclennan doesn’t see it as the main reason behind their success. Instead, it’s the people working for Pickles that he rates as number one.
“We have the most passionate, experienced people across all the markets that we operate in,” he boasted. “We have a culture that is focused on delivering value to our customers and ensuring we maximise the returns on every asset we put to sale. It’s about building close relationships, both personally and professionally, with our vendors to help understand what they need, and actually involving them in the process of delivering and achieving the result.”
This amazing working environment stems from still being a family owned and operated business where relationships are key.
Even though they’ve got 23 branches and hundreds of employees, everyone is instilled with the same sense of pride.
“Knowing and working alongside the owners of the business has been critical in establishing our culture,” Bruce explained.
“The staff know and understand who they’re working for; they know what is important to them, and they understand the importance of the company values of integrity, excellence, innovation, teamwork and safety.”
Dedicated onsite sales are conducted regularly through Pickles, and service everything from mine closures, business restructures, insolvency, administration and liquidation matters. And then expressions of interest (tenders) for specialist items are also available.
“We are proud to be the trusted auctioneer for many state governments, local councils, fleet, lease and finance and insurance companies,” the CEO further outlined. “We offer the largest range of assets in our field, across almost every make and model. We can appraise company fleets from one to over 1000 assets and advise on sale, trade and purchase of all types of equipment.”
With Australia’s largest and most qualified team of valuers and auctioneers, Pickles sell over $30 million a month in trucks, trailers and mobile plant at their regular auctions.
Leveraging their vast experience, the Pickles team also hold one-off, major event sales.
An example was the huge one-day physical auction held last year for MAAS Group to dispose of over 300 assets. Pickles provided a complete remarketing solution which resulted in the largest scale of its kind in NSW. Pickles’ local knowledge and national reach meant they were able to deliver exceptional returns for MAAS.
They facilitated a successful remarketing strategy that generated interest and maximised profit as well as coordinating all the logistics such as transport and asset valuations.
The auction was streamed live, giving customers the opportunity to view, bid and buy assets anywhere at any time within Australia. Pickles provided accurate appraisals and detailed condition reports as well as staff on-hand to guide customers through the purchasing experience. Exceptional results were realised with over 2000 people attending onsite and a 100 percent clearance rate.
For those looking to purchase a secondhand machine, Bruce has some sound advice; “When buying equipment, it’s important that you know where it’s from, what type of work it’s been doing, its service history and its condition before making an offer to purchase.
Once the price has been agreed to it is a must to check the PPSR [Personal Property Securities Register] to ensure that you have clear title and the security isn’t being held back or by a third-party. When buying at auction or fixed price through Pickles, we – where possible – provide service history and we guarantee title through PPSR.”
Bruce Maclennan believes the earthmoving and construction industry in Australia is very strong at the moment with little signs of it slowing down. “Demand is outstripping supply,” he said, “providing for high returns for the disposal of assets. We can currently sell it as fast as its listed.”
With 7000 trucks and trailers and 3500 earthmoving and mobile plant sales every year, Pickles posted a whopping $2.5 billion annual turnover, and projections only see it climbing.
Even with all its success, profits and unrivalled capabilities, Pickles isn’t resting on its laurels.
In 2015 they launched their PicklesLIVE APP (download it now on your Android, Apple or Windows device), and there are a number of new technologies currently being testing by the company, including valuation and residual value data applications. Pickles recently acquired Hassalls, which are auctioneer and remarketing specialists to the Australian mining industry, and then they also opened their first international site: PicklesASIA.
The Malaysian-based facility services the south-east Asian region with advanced auction management software and services.
Whatever new technology lies ahead, however the climate changes and whichever direction they choose to go, Pickles’ mission will remain steadfast: to create trusted marketplaces where everybody wins, unlocking value for vendors and providing a superior purchasing experience for buyers. So whether you’re trying to get the most out of selling your fleet or you’re looking to snap up a bargain, you’re best to pick Pickles.
[colored_box color=” yellow”]For more information go to pickles.com.au [/colored_box]