A little more than a year after he retired from Barrett-Jackson, Gary Bennett has joined Ritchie Bros. with a goal of expanding the publicly traded company’s collector car division, the Leake Auction Company.
“His deep-rooted experience in the collector car industry will propel the growth and development of Ritchie Bros.’ collector car division,” Greg Owens, group president of new ventures & sectors for the auction company, said in a news release.
Founded in 1958 in British Columbia, Ritchie Bros. is a $5.3 billion annual business specializing in the sale of used heavy equipment at more than 40 permanent sites around the world. Earlier this year it entered the collector car arena by acquiring Leake, which has been in business since 1972, primarily doing sales in Oklahoma and Texas.
“I’m excited about the future and making our customers happy and getting the results they expect,” Bennett said in an interview Wednesday with ClassicCars.com Journal.
“We’re giving people in the collector car world another option,” he added. “If we do a good job, they will come.”
Bennett’s vision for the future of the Ritchie/Leake collector car auctions includes a series of regional sales and “three or four major events around the country.” Those major sales would be televised and would offer several hundred collector cars, he added. He also hopes that Spanky and Amy Assiter and their team will be on the auction block for those major sales.
Ritchie Bros. experimented earlier this year with offering a few collector cars at one of its heavy-equipment auctions and Bennett hopes to expand that program, offering as many as 50 cars at perhaps 10 such sales a year. Iron Planet’s online auction sales format — both during and after auctions — also should enhance sales, he added.
Bennett’s ties to Leake trace back to his native Oklahoma and to Leake founder, James Leake, “who brought me into this,” Bennett said. “I used to take my vacations to help with the auctions, and then I started buying and selling at them.”
Bennett, an architect in his first professional life, traveled from Oklahoma to Scottsdale, Arizona, with James Leake for the annual Barrett-Jackson sale starting in 1971. After he left his architectural practice, Bennett joined the Barrett-Jackson auction staff.
We’re giving people in the collector car world another option,”
“Gary’s professional career in the collector car industry has spanned over 45 years, throughout which he has become one of most respected individuals in the field,” the Ritchie Bros. news release said.
“He has been actively buying, selling and participating in the collector car lifestyle auction industry since 1971. Involved in the automotive industry throughout his professional career, Gary has worked in many different aspects of the industry including the restoration, aftermarket, and design fields.
“Throughout his tenure, he has managed strategic execution of event campaigns, television coverage negotiations and revenue growth for premier collector car auction events.”
Bennett’s title with Ritchie Bros. is general manger, new ventures & sectors. Bennett’s wife, Muffy, also a former Barrett-Jackson staffer — she ran the company’s year-around retail automotive dealership showroom — preceded him into the Richie Bros. company, joining the Iron Planet subsidiary as new sector director.
After leaving Barrett-Jackson, where he was vice president of consignments, Gary Bennett joined the Austin Hatcher Foundation for Pediatric Cancer. He said he will continue to do major fund-raising projects for that organization and will incorporate charity sales for various organizations into the Ritchie/Leake auction weekends.
Leake’s next sale is scheduled for June 7-10 at the River Spirit Expo in Tulsa, Oklahoma.