Any old iron

WWA's Keith Lupton speaks about the burgeoning used equipment market in the UAE, and across the wider region.


WWA's Keith Lupton speaks about the burgeoning used equipment market in the UAE, and across the wider region.

As global demand for machines is growing, this means good times for the Dubai-based auction houses. Keith Lupton, the director of World Wide Auctioneers surveys the machines waiting to be picked up from the auction his new site from the 'comfort' of has temporary demountable office.

They are mostly going to East Africa and locally, oddly enough. It hasn't always been the case, though. " he said.

"Iran come and go. India and Pakistan are buying at the moment as it is now easy to ship in to India, which was not the case for years. I think before, I had only sold to one Indian buyer before the rules change - and he had a lot of clout.

"Here (in Dubai) though, with the canal projects and all the construction, machines are in demand. Even low ground pressure vehiclesfor dredging that were normally very specialized, are now popular.

In the past, LGP 'dozers would sell in Abu Dhabi, but now with the man-made islands and dredging projects the machines are now popular throughout Dubai.

Meanwhile, Keith reminds us of the scarcity of tower cranes in the region. "The last one we had came from a site in Abu Dhabi. It was thirty years old and it sold for US $62 thousand.

I asked the owner if he still had the parts book and manual. He said 'For that kind of money, Keith, I shall search the warehouse!' It came from a large company and they were just amazed.

On the subject of cranes, Lupton points out; "The two big sellers of tower cranes are pretty occupied at the moment and are not putting them in auction.

In point of fact tower cranes have never been big auction items, as the always need to be at least semi erected, otherwise they look like an incomplete Meccano set worth perhaps ten dollars or something.

While towers are a rare sight in the auction yard, mobile cranes do appear from time to time, but values have changed, as have the brands in fashion.

"Tadano and Kato cranes sell well. Kato are always worth about ten percent less in Arabia, though there isn't a lot of difference. This is interesting, because ten years ago the magic word was Grove.

If it had them, we made money and so did the vendor. Also the new owner could sell it again at a later date without losing money. Tadano came in and, to use Al Capone's phrase, ‘whacked' them.

According to Lupton, there is ‘endless demand' for the usual triptych of loaders, bulldozers and graders. "Especially if they happen to have Caterpillar 14G written on the side" he laughed. "They first started making these graders 1974 and they're still selling. We've had 1975 models going through at US $60-70 thousand."

Site vehicles are also popular. Sitting at the back of the yard in neat rows were several dozen Toyota crew-cab pick up trucks. "We actually had 180 of these come in from a single, very large client" Lupton explained. "Generally we don't have so many small trucks, but there is huge demand for Mercedes or MAN heavy haulage.

As the name of the company suggests, the auction house are prepared to arrange passage to wherever in the word the customer wants the equipment. It isn't easy to get to everywhere though.

"South America is a very difficult area to ship to. I remember a guy a few years ago needed a D6 bulldozer and he wanted it shipped to Peru. We had to ship it to Cape Town and then around Cape Horn but it was very difficult.

"New Zealand and Australia suffer partially from the same. We have interest, but the shipping is high and then they (in customs) spend two weeks washing it down for bugs.

I see where they are coming from, but do you really have to spend weeks and gallons of water washing a machine for creepy crawlies that has been standing in the Jebel Ali Free Zone?" he pondered.

"Buying the equipment is simple. It's getting it where you want it that can be the problem" he explained. "We price the shipping in dollars and the dollar is weak compared to the prices charged by the Norwegian or Japanese shipping owner.

Regardless of the shipping costs Lupton is upbeat about the state of the used machine industry. "It's a very buoyant market. We are growing and we try to look after the big pussy cats as well as the chap with one machine. As we get bigger, we occasionally get accused of being mechanical."

It is just rather difficult, but it stands to reason that a customer with five bulldozers might get more of my attention than the chap with one genset - though he is very welcome of course" he added.

People will try delaying payment and we've got more harsh and have started to fine them heavy penalties to give them a bit of stick. We don't want the extra money, we just want them to pay and take the machine then we can start the whole process again.

Gazing over the rows of dusty yellow machines, stretching away into the desert, Lupton concludes; " Of course it's all a bit like painting the Fourth Bridge... though I don't know if we can still use that as they've invented a new kind of paint.

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