Sunday, May 27, 2007

Auction firm still standing in Greensburg

From the day of this terrible tornado our thoughts have been with Scott Brown and his company.

Here is a post from the Antique Trader Blog by Mark Moran

GREENSBURG, Kan. — News reports following the devastating F5 tornado that flattened this little Kansas town often cited the estimate that 95 percent of the community is gone. As the owner of one of only three businesses still standing, auctioneer Scott Brown said that figure is about right.

“My sign got ripped up, but the building is OK,” said Brown, whose facility is located on the east end of Greensburg. A bulk oil dealer next door and a tire shop are the only other going concerns in a town whose population once numbered 1,400, he said.

greensburg1.jpgA heavily damaged motel across the street serves as shelter for volunteers working to help victims of the May 4 tornado, which killed 10 people. Damage estimates are in the millions of dollars, but Brown has a simpler way to gauge the devastation.

“There’s a grain elevator on the west end of town, about a mile away,” Brown told Antique trader. “I’m looking at it right now — I could never see it before this.”

After determining his building was still habitable, Brown cancelled all auctions scheduled for the facility and added 20 phones lines. Local residents, businesses, government and emergency officials used Brown’s building as a meeting and communications center in the days after the disaster. Brown, 56, has lived in Greensburg all his life. His family’s business, Brown Auction & Real Estate, has been around for 67 years.

“At first you’d walk around town and say, ‘There’s a house that made it through,’” recalled Brown, “until you looked around back and saw that most of it had been torn away.

“They had to paint street names on the road because there are no more points of reference,” he added, “and every day the scene changes as more buildings are torn down.”

“We haven’t had water service since the day of the storm,” Brown said on May 21, “but that may change tomorrow.”

Greensburg2.jpgBrown lives in Mullinville, Kan., a few miles away, but had purchased a home in Greensburg two days before the tornado hit. “The house was secluded, set in this square of tall cedar trees,” he said. “We drove by to see the place, and there wasn’t one tree left.”

Brown said the outpouring of support has been overwhelming. “When you get people from all over the country sending clothes … well, let’s just say we have plenty of clothes on hand for the next disaster.” In addition to FEMA, the Red Cross, Salvation Army and numerous church and service groups have pitched in to help survivors.

The South Central Community Foundation in Pratt, Kan., has established the Greensburg Future Fund for the purpose of helping Greensburg rebuild.

“We recognize that many organizations are providing disaster relief for Greensburg,” said Jack Galle, chairman of the foundation’s board. “However, this fund is different because it is designed to help the community rebuild. This will be a long and painful process. Kansans want to help their neighbors, and we believe this fund will provide a vehicle for all of us to stand by our friends at Greensburg as they rebuild their town, their schools, their livelihoods and their way of life.”

SCCF Executive Director Denise Unruh said the Greensburg Future Fund is a “pass-through” fund, and 100 percent of the donated dollars would go to Greensburg projects.

Checks should be made to “South Central Community Foundation” with a memo to “Greensburg Future Fund.” Donors can also earmark the contributions for education, health care or community rebuilding. The mailing address is South Central Community Foundation, P.O. Box 8624, Pratt, KS, 67124. Donations are eligible for charitable income tax deductions, Unruh said.

Disaster relief funds may also be sent directly to the American Red Cross, Salvation Army and similar programs, Unruh said. For more information, contact Unruh at 620-672-7929. Scott Brown may be reached at 620-723-2111. As of May 21, Brown had no Internet service.

Images courtesy Denise Unruh, SCCF Executive Director

Thursday, May 24, 2007

The Source on Orten's land rent sale Blog

One of the big gossip items at the 45th International Sugarbeet Institute was that – whew – maybe stories about land rental rates is a myth. “Did you hear?” one of my favorite farming addicts whispered. “Did you hear that Orten’s land deals didn’t go through after all?” My smiling friend was referring to the story I broke on this blog, the Grand Forks Herald, about the Feb. 21 public auction that determined the fate of 7,300 acres in Cass County, owned by Orten B. Brodshaug of Horace. The rents ratesranged from $126 to $174 per acre and averaged $150 to $160. Lenders and farmers told me this rental auction would have a huge impact on farm land rental rates up and down the Red River Valley, and on either side. Horrors, I thought. Had I misled the public on this story? Was I duped? So I asked, what happened to the $10,000 checks the “qualified bidders” had to bring to the auction. Did they forfeit those dollars, too? “Yup,” the guy said, nodding deeply. The rumor is, he said, that the bidders had gone home to their lenders who had nixed the whole deal on grounds that there was no way they could make these deals pencil out. Better to lose the $10,000 and cut your losses than lose a whole lot more on a bad land rent deal. Really, I said. “Check it out,” he said. So, I did. Scott Steffes of Steffes Auctioneers Inc. of Fargo, took my call on his cell phone this morning on his way to some future auction business. Yes, Steffes, said, he’d been approached by someone at his big Ag Iron event the other day, who challenged him with the same “facts.” “Yeah, the guy said he heard that nearly all that land got turned back,” Steffes said. Steffes told the man that rumor wasn’t true. “‘Bull¬¬¬___!’ the guy said,” Steffes says. “So I asked the guy, why would YOU know and I wouldn’t?” Steffes told the man, adding. “I was one of the people who cashed the checks!” The deal was that the winning bidder had to write an immediate check for 10 percent of the rental amount and then write a check for the balance by March 1. All of those checks went through, Steffes says. Steffes wasn’t able to convince the guy. “Well, the guy tells me that he heard it from ‘The Source.’ Maybe it’s from one of the renters who got the land, I don’t know.” Steffes acknowledged he’s been approached about the rumor at various functions in the past several days. He says the “opposite was true,” because two different individuals came in after the auction and asked who had won the bid. One of the farmers at the auction offered a winning bidder $20,000 to walk away from their contract, giving them a chance to rent. And so, folks, Scott Steffes is MY source on this, as well as a few other trusted souls I’ve known since my temples weren’t gray. I don’t know if there’s a way to impeach an auctioneer, even if you wanted to, but I’d say Steffes is an unimpeachable source. While I had him on the phone, I asked Steffes to give me the non-promotional version of how Brodshaug’s farm equipment sale went. Steffes – who fortunately has a sense of humor -- said it went “excellent” and proved that well-maintained older equipment still sells pretty well, especially in light of rising prices with new equipment. An 8820 combine of the 1983 vintage went for about $9,000, for just the machine. Meanwhile, AgIron had 1,900 bidders, a “near high” on the first day of the Sugarbeet Institute. The average bidder numbers for these sales is about 1,250, Steffes said. “It showed some market weakness in late model combines and probably the higher-end truck equipment, but overall it was excellent.” Excellent, I said.

Hundreds turn out for auction

Farmers Guardian UK

Machinery Sale | 24 May, 2007

BROWN and Co’s farm machinery auction at Sewstern, near Grantham, was attended by hundreds of farmers and dealers from across the UK and Ireland despite heavy overnight rain.

Sewstern 1
Credit: © FARMERS GUARDIAN please contact 01772 799445.

Following a change in farming policy by H Newton & Son, Brown & Co were approached to hold a dispersal sale on the farm.

Together with extensive arable farming equipment, a combine harvester and tractors, the sale included a selection of well maintained implements including cultivation and harvest machinery, trailers, livestock handling apparatus and over 200 lots of workshop and traditional hand tools.

Bidding was competitive with a John Deere 3420 Telehandler fetching £26,750 and a New Holland TM165 Tractor falling to the hammer for £21,000. A Väderstad 300 Super XL Rapid Drill was sold for £13,950 while a Massey Fergusson 38RS Combine Harvester realised £13,000. A Väderstad Carrier 500 cultivator fetched a pleasing £11,250 and AS 12 tonne grain trailers made between £5,000 and £5,500 each.

Brown & Co auctioneers Richard Godson and Will Parry from the Grantham office, commented: “The recent rise in commodity prices appears to have injected an air of optimism in to the industry, with farmers prepared to bid confidently for quality arable machinery”. Mr Godson continued, “Many of the values achieved exceeded expectation”

“The machinery was extremely well maintained and the vendor has an excellent reputation which gave buyers an extra incentive to bid up to secure the quality equipment on offer” added Mr Parry.

Other lots

1. New Holland TM165 (Yr 2001) 3,672hrs

2. New Holland TS110 (Yr 1998) 5,176 hrs

3. Ford 8240 (Yr 1994) 7,980 hrs

4. John Deere 3420 Telehandler (Yr 2004) 1500 hrs

5. MF 38RS Combine (Yr 1991) 2,485 hrs

Trailer: (Top priced 12t AS ACE was Yr 2003) - £5500