ABC West Michigan Auto Auction Changes Hands

January 27, 2008
| By Pete Daly |
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MOLINE — ABC West Michigan, one of the largest wholesale auto auctions in Western Michigan, has been sold by Auction Broadcasting Company (ABC) of Indianapolis to three West Michigan businessmen, including its original founder.

Located on the east side of U.S 131 at the Allegan County line south of Grand Rapids, the 77-acre business was bought on Jan. 1 by Mark Campbell, Dan DeVos and Carl Miskotten. The auction service is only open to licensed car dealers, and is not open to the public. As many as 1,250 representatives from dealerships throughout the western half of the Lower Peninsula attend each Friday.

Campbell said 800 to 900 cars are auctioned off every Friday during the winter month, but that number is closer to 2,000 cars during the summer months.

The cars are usually late-model trade-ins at dealerships. Dealers sell their unwanted inventory at dealers-only auctions, and also buy cars there to sell.

Campbell, an Ada physician, bought the land and started the business as the West Michigan Auto Auction in 1996. In 1997, Miskotten bought into the business. In 2000, Campbell sold his interest in it and ABC bought into it.

"We worked together for three years," said Miskotten, then he sold out in 2003.

He said ABC "got to concentrating on other locations and so forth, and I wasn't as interested in the direction they were going."

ABC operates other major auto auctions for dealers in the Detroit/Toledo area, Atlanta, Florida, Minneapolis and in Tennessee.

Miskotten would not reveal the price he, Campbell and DeVos paid for ABC West Michigan.

Miskotten, who is from Allegan County, sold his first car at age 16, "and I've been at it ever since." He started two other auto auctions and had "extensive experience" with others, according to ABC.

Miskotten and Campbell are also partners in Hot Rod Harley Davidson, a new motorcycle dealership they opened in downtown Muskegon last year, which reportedly was an investment of $3.5 million.

DeVos is the owner of D. P. Fox Ventures, which includes several auto dealerships in both the lower and upper peninsulas of Michigan.

Campbell said West Michigan Auto Auction "feeds the whole region." He said an auto auction is "how all the used car dealers get their cars. Otherwise the dealers have to go to Detroit or Chicago" to auto auctions there. He added West Michigan Auto Auction is "very important for both A and B dealers." "A" dealers are licensed to sell both new and used cars, while B dealerships are only licensed to sell used cars.

Another major dealers-only auto auction on the western side of Michigan is the Greater Kalamazoo Auto Auction in Schoolcraft, which advertises "1,200 units each week." A smaller dealers-only auto auction is Grand Rapids Auto Auction, located in Jenison.

Miskotten said West Michigan Auto Auction employs about 50 people fulltime and another 200 on a part-time basis.

"There is a good chance that we will do probably upwards of $300 million" in business this year, said Miskotten.

During the Friday auctions, that last about four hours, the cars are lined up in seven or eight lanes. In the summer, up to 12 lanes of cars are lined up for sale.

Miskotten said a car is sold "every minute or two. They go through like cattle."

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