Business & Real Estate

West Sacramento firm’s heavy-duty equipment goes on auction block

Craig Hobday, owner and president of recently closed West Sacramento business Compaction Rentals, stands next to a 1970s-vintage compactor at 3512 W. Capitol Ave. The renter of heavy-duty industrial equipment will auction off its fleet Wednesday in Dunnigan. Compactors were the company’s mainstay when Hobday started there in the 1970s.
Craig Hobday, owner and president of recently closed West Sacramento business Compaction Rentals, stands next to a 1970s-vintage compactor at 3512 W. Capitol Ave. The renter of heavy-duty industrial equipment will auction off its fleet Wednesday in Dunnigan. Compactors were the company’s mainstay when Hobday started there in the 1970s. mglover@sacbee.com

Shopping for a massive Caterpillar tractor? Or an articulated dump truck? Wednesday, those are among more than 2,000 pieces of heavy-duty construction equipment and other items going up for auction in Dunnigan, part of a routine Ritchie Bros. Auctioneers sale of used equipment.

But the auction is anything but routine for Craig Hobday, owner and president of Compaction Rentals in West Sacramento. For him, it’s the end of an era.

After more than 40 years of renting and leasing industrial equipment for construction projects all over Northern California, Hobday recently closed the company he and his late father, Ed, purchased in 1973. He’s put almost all of his inventory on the Ritchie Bros. auction block.

Ritchie Bros. is touting Hobday’s fleet of 70 heavy-duty Caterpillar tractors, motor scrapers, motor graders, dump trucks and excavators as a veritable treasure trove for contractors, equipment companies and others who are expected to post bids. Those pieces alone are estimated to bring in more than $9 million, with 15 more pieces of Hobday equipment also for sale.

Mike Brenner, Ritchie Bros. regional sales manager, characterized the midweek auction as “one of the nicest selections of late-model, well-maintained Caterpillar equipment we’ve ever seen at our site.”

Ritchie Bros., based in British Columbia, conducts about five auctions a year at its Dunnigan yard, one of hundreds held globally.

The Hobday inventory comes off the company’s lot at 3512 W. Capitol Ave., which recently closed. The West Sacramento company’s name harkens to its original business: renting out industrial compactors to contractors. By the 1980s, the company’s lineup of rental equipment expanded to include a diverse mix of industrial equipment. During that time, Hobday became connected to a wide range of Northern California construction professionals.

“What I’ll miss most are the people,” said Hobday, 65. “We’ve worked with so many good people over the years and that includes the people who have worked right here.”

What Hobday says he won’t miss is the California Air Resources Board, the agency overseeing the state’s exhaust emission standards, including those for engines on heavy-duty equipment made available for years by Compaction Rentals. Hobday said one of his biggest frustrations was keeping his fleet in compliance with state standards, only to be told that projects in some jurisdictions, like the Bay Area, required even higher emissions standards.

“That was tough ... especially after we spent so much time and money to do what the state requires,” he said.

Erik White, chief of CARB’s Mobile Source Control Division, said in an email: “We recognize and commend Mr. Hobday for having met and exceeded the emissions reduction requirements the state has in place. However, many local jurisdictions have rules that go beyond what the state requires ... While we commend him for his clean fleet, we have to respect the decisions of local governments to put in place health-based requirements to use the cleanest equipment available.”

When Hobday and his father opened their company, it was typical for contractors to buy heavy-duty equipment. But the Hobdays decided to make it available for rent, a far cheaper option for many construction projects.

“We really were the first in Northern California to do it on that scale,” Hobday said.

A business plan was born. Compaction Rentals would acquire lightly used industrial equipment – with maybe 1,500 hours of use – and maintain them on-site. Maintenance and repairs were done by a crew of trained mechanics. Compaction Rentals had six or seven employees.

The West Sacramento yard typically had 55 to 70 pieces of equipment on-site by the 1980s, although Hobday notes that inventory levels varied with the economy’s ups and downs.

Hobday said Compaction Rentals equipment has been used in varied regional projects, working closely with local firms such as Sacramento’s Teichert Construction. Compaction Rentals equipment performed river levee repairs throughout Northern California and recently performed work at the Sacramento Kings downtown arena now under construction.

“You think back on it, it’s amazing how much construction has been done in Sacramento just since 1990,” Hobday said.

Hobday, an avid hunter, says he will move out of his West Sacramento office, which resembles a sportsman’s living room with a fireplace and various hunting trophies. “It might as well look like home. I spent enough time here,” he said with a chuckle.

Although Compaction Rentals has closed, Hobday himself is not retiring, but plans to continue buying and selling tractors. “It’s in my blood ... I guess you never get out of the sandbox.”

Call The Bee’s Mark Glover, (916) 321-1184.

GOING ONCE, GOING TWICE ...

Type of auction: British Columbia-based Ritchie Bros. Auctioneers is holding an industrial equipment/vehicle auction on Wednesday at its Northern California auction yard. It’s one of more than 300 auctions held worldwide by Ritchie Bros. each year.

Where/When: 8 a.m. at 5500 County Road 99 West (County Road 8 exit, off Interstate 5) in Dunnigan, where auctions typically are held once a quarter or five times a year.

Items for bid: More than 2,000 pieces of equipment, from specialized mechanical devices to heavy machinery, including at least 85 items of construction vehicles and equipment from recently closed Compaction Rentals in West Sacramento. All items will be sold without minimum bids or reserve prices.

How to bid: The auction is open to the public. Bids can be made in person, online at rbauction.com or by proxy.

More details: rbauction.com or call (530) 669-4166.

Source: Ritchie Bros. Auctioneers

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