Grand opening of Steffes new auction house brings curious buyers

By Grace King, Mt. Pleasant News


Out in the lot, Scott Steffes was elevated above the crowd, leaning out of the window of a Steffes Group auction truck with a microphone in hand chanting in rhythmic monotone, waiting for customers to place their bid.

It was the grand debut of the new location of Steffes Auction House on N. Iris St. in Mt. Pleasant on Thursday, Dec. 7. Owner of Steffes, Scott Steffes, was in town from North Dakota, and he said it was good to be in Mt. Pleasant on a day when they were expecting 1,500 people to place bids on their equipment. Ask any employee at Steffes and they will tell you that the most exciting aspect of the new location is that there is plenty of parking ? room enough for 800 to be exact.

?It?s been a long time coming,? Steffes closing agent Steph Palmer said. ?We?re just really excited to get moved in. It?s better for the customers, better parking and I think it will just flow better.?

The move to the industrial park area of town from 605 E. Winfield Ave. has been a long time coming ? three years to be exact, according to auctioneer and realtor Lynn Richard. The business has been growing since Richard started it about 37 years ago, later selling it to Steffes for what he said was one of the best decisions he?s ever made.

The sale that first year was only a few thousand dollars, now it?s in the millions, Richard boasted. Standing in front of the TVs where the live auction could be observed, Richard imagined the possibilities the new warehouse could create a year from now.

?What might be new next year would be an indoor auction with a big-screen TV,? Richard said, something many of the buyers would have appreciated on Thursday with bitter wind making the morning feel like a bitter 5 degrees.

Chatting with one of his customers and longtime friend Rich Leicty, Richard said to him, ?Oh, you probably came to the first sale we had 37 years ago.?

Leicty admired the large warehouse where round tables were set up and the United Methodist Church of Mt. Union was selling a lunch of hot dogs, hamburgers and chili.

?It?s unbelievable how beautiful the thing is,? Leicty said. ?People are really enjoying [the warm warehouse] right now with cold weather outside. Everything?s lined up real neat out there, set up real excellent for the sale.?

The rows were nice, with ?clean Midwest farm equipment? lined up a quarter mile out into the fenced in lot, said Tim Meyer, vice president of Steffes Iowa Operations.

The chain-linked fence is an important improvement to the auction house. It ensures ?nothing gets away,? Richard said.

?We sold a tractor to North Dakota,? Meyer updated Richard. ?And that big red tractor is going to Canada,? he said.

Inside the warehouse, two giant garage doors with viewing windows allowed customers to look out over the rows of equipment up for auction.

Although at almost 90 years old, Monroe Miller, of Kalona, said he wasn?t planning on purchasing anything that day, he did come out to see everything that was going on.

?I don?t need anything anymore,? Miller said, adding that he was impressed with how well-organized the Steffes employees were in the new auction house.

Keeping warm inside the warehouse, Wade Troutman looked out the garage door windows onto the rows and rows of machinery being sold. ?They?ve got a lot more room here,? Troutman said. ?It?s not so crowded so people will be able to load up (the equipment they purchase) and stay out of the other people?s way a lot easier.?

Although the office area of the building isn?t quite ready for the public?s viewing, Steffes hopes to have it fully furnished within the next month. The building was constructed by Wiley Construction.