It was quiet as a tomb.
Two hours before Capital Recovery Group auctioned off piecemeal the Marker/DNR snowboard factory, the first prospective bidders walking across the factory floor and through now-empty offices spoke in hushed tones.
“Is this some sort of funeral?” asked Ron Taylor, co-founder of OEM board builder Taylor Dykema. His tone was hardly jovial, however.
For the most part, the industry members attending the auction were at first solemn as they confronted this most-concrete example of what consolidation really means.
And there were ghosts aplenty. Lot number 480, a glass-door bulletin board hanging in the lunch room, still held the company-wide memo announcing the closing of the factory and the employee severance program. In the back of the building, near the trash bins, were thousands of dusty topsheets. “There must be 6,000 there,” whispered one shopper before drifting away.
But as the auction progressed and the deals started to flow, the swelling crowd loosened up and camaraderie grew. By the end of the long afternoon, even the acerbic auctioneer was worn out, and more than 400,000 dollars had been raised.
Of the items that sold, most went for between 20 and 45 cents on the dollar. A 45,000-dollar forklift sold for 20,000. A 190,000-dollar two-axis CNC machine sold for 22,500. However, the four double presses–which represented the largest capital outlay–didn't receive the needed 20,000-dollar opening bid. “It would cost that much just to move them out of here,” commented Greg Pronko, owner of Glissade Snowboards.
Representatives from Damco, Taylor Dykma, Nelson Sports, Yoshida, Angelic, Mervin Manufacturing, Jaysport, Winterstick, Heelside/Function, Glissade, Grindrite, and Evolution Ski Company were some of those on hand–along with retailers such as Milosports, Salty Peaks, and Summit Ski & Sport. There were also the wild cards–local auctioneers and a cabinetmaker in dusty jeans–looking for deals.
But the big spender of the day wasn't even in attendance. An online bidder only identified as “902” purchased the Tecknik der Zunkunft automatic board finisher for 120,000 dollars and 220 rolls of P-Tex 2000 base material for 31,680 dollars–along with a Grindrite tuner for 7,800 dollars and other items. Total spent by this bidder alone: 185,510 dollars.
Jaysport was also laying out the cash–more than 41,000 dollars in fact–snatching up 110 rolls of stitched triax fiberglass for 31,680 dollars.
The new owner of the building spent more than 21,000 dollars–mostly on office fixtures and equipment. He'll turn the factory into a printing business, and says he paid around three-million dollars for the building.
But most in attendance spent less–averaging around 5,000 dollars. Tim Van Mechelen of OEM board-builder Damco bought hundreds of thousands of inserts for a little more than 5,000 dollars–a fraction of their value.
Jokes at Marker's expense were few and far between–its story strikes too close to home for many of those in attendance.
But at the end of the day, more than one person mentioned how they viewed the auction as a climax to the snowboard-industry consolidation, a type of endgame in a difficult time of industry maturation.
Did Marker get what it expected from the auction? CEO Peter Weaver wasn't in the office on the day of the auction and wasn't in the country as this story goes to press. However, Bob Fry, the former general manager of the factory who has since started own company, was there. “Is all this just a little bit strange for you?” I asked, standing in what may have been his old office.
“Naw, it was strange six months ago,” he says. “But I'm over it now.”