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Auctioneer's Corner - Sullivan & Son Auction, LLC

10 Sep 2023

imageFarm equipment and farmland auctions have been gaining popularity over the last decade for both buying and selling. Today we will introduce you to Sullivan & Son Auction, LLC located in Carthage, Illinois. 




Farmers Hot Line: Let’s say I’m a bidder that is not familiar with your company, tell me about yourself.

Mike Sullivan: I have been a full time auctioneer for going on 35 years selling all types of sales, but specializing primarily in land and farm equipment. I began business in 1979 with my dad, who was in the farmland real estate business in Carthage, IL. Now, my son, Will, and I are located 8 miles south of Carthage, IL along the Chicago-Kansas City Expressway. Our reputation has always been based on honesty and we work everyday to maintain that.

Online auctions vs. In-person bidding—thoughts?

Our company has never charged a ”Buyer’s Premium”, however, there is a charge for buying online. The online provider decides how much they charge for various types of items. When purchasing farm equipment online the charges can add up, but the convenience of buying from your home or office is very nice not to mention the driving and time factor. The downside to buying online would be purchasing an item with out thoroughly inspecting it. We try to provide an accurate description of the item pointing out not only the good, but also any flaws.

What were your “Top 5” popular pieces of equipment last quarter?

All of the larger 4WD and Track Tractors as well as the mid size FWA loader tractors. It’s hard to remember the top 5 high selling items, but all soil conservation tillage tools are good sellers.

imageDo you see any trends in the type of equipment be auctioned/bought?

More and more farmers are buying large sprayers and doing their own spraying.

What is the highest priced item auctioned in the last quarter?

With our company, that would have to be Class A farmland, but as far as machinery goes, the highest priced items are not the ones that brought the most money. A 32-year-old Steiger tractor for $24,000.00 or a Great Plains 15’ drill for $30,500.00 are two that come to mind.

What is the highest count of one type of equipment in your auctions recently?

At our fall sales it would be grain carts and wagons (typically 50-75) and at the spring sales it’s always field cultivators and soil finishers (40-50).

If you could give someone attending an auction one tip what would it be?

Do your homework ahead of time and be on your toes. So many people go to an auction in search of a piece of machinery with no knowledge of what it’s really worth. You can find out anything on the Internet so take a little time and know what you’re going to spend. If possible, talk to the owner and see what he has to say about the condition and when the bidding begins be aggressive so you don’t miss out and lose the item.

imageWhat do you see as the “up & coming” type of equipment?

That’s hard to say as most of our buyers are from Illinois, Iowa and Missouri, which don’t necessarily do everything the same. I would have to say probably the Vertical Tillage Tools, they are very popular.

How big of a roll does time-of-year play on sales? For example, Spring vs. Fall.

It plays a big role. With machinery consignment sales, you can advise a farmer to bring the more seasonable items, but with a retirement or an estate auction, you are selling some items in the off-season. A year ago, we had an exceptional line of equipment on an estate auction. Family members and friends were leaning towards waiting until after harvest. I convinced them to sell just ahead of harvest and it made them a lot of money with the near new combine, grain cart, tandem grain truck and fall tillage tools all selling exceptionally well.

Any big upcoming auctions?

Typically there are not many machinery sales in the summer months. I do have a very nice estate auction on June 24 with (2) JD 6105D MFWD tractors less than a year old and some other very nice pieces.

imageAnything else you would like to add?

We recently became a dealer for the “Crop Copter” UAV (Unmanned Aerial Vehicle). We’ve been studying and comparing these for over a year to use in our business for aerial photography and videoing farms and properties to be auctioned. In this short time, the amount of farmers buying and discussing the use of a drone on their farm is unbelievable. They can be used for crop scouting for disease, wind damage, etc. or just go find a missing cow without running all over the farm on a 4-wheeler. Farming is certainly changing!


Farmers Hot Line is part of the Catalyst Communications Network publication family.