It's not often that a company can merge the benefits of a traditional business with being on the cutting edge of technology, marketing and sales. But Purple Wave Auction has found a way to combine the services of a live auction with the Internet. The result is a live online auction of used equipment.

Although Aaron McKee and Suzy Feuerborn both grew up in separate parts of Kansas, they both shared an agriculture background. Aaron grew up in western Kansas, while Suzy grew up in eastern Kansas. They met at Kansas State University and later married.

"Suzy McKee was finishing her education to be a veterinarian at Kansas State while Aaron was starting his career," said Jerrod Westfahl, president and chief executive officer of Purple Wave Auction, based in Manhattan, Kan. "Aaron was interested in the auction business and was helping support Suzy as she finished her schooling. So, Aaron went to auction school. He came back to Manhattan and opened Purple Wave Auction as a live auction business in 2000."

Westfahl said Aaron is a big believer in the efficiencies and effectiveness of auctions. He saw the value auctions offered for used assets.

"Suzy has always been key in the daily management of Purple Wave, even during veterinary school and after," Westfahl said. "She was a freelance vet for a few years after vet school, but then the demands and success of Purple Wave required her full attention. She maintains an active vet license, but does not actively practice. Today she directs our resource allocation."

At the time Aaron started the business, he was able to take advantage of the boom in Internet businesses. He found that offering items for auction via the Internet helped market the asset better and expanded the business beyond the constraints of local geography. Purple Wave Auction
differentiated itself by offering the full service capabilities of a live auction to its Internet sellers.

The method of selling via the Internet proved so successful that as of June 2009, the company became an exclusively Internet only auction services provider at www.purplewave.com. Now, the company employs 47 people who are based in Missouri, Kansas, Texas, Oklahoma and Colorado. The headquarters remains in Manhattan, Kan.

Today, Purple Wave Auction specializes in equipment and vehicle auctions and provides turn-key personalized auction to each seller, according to Westfahl. By acting as an independent agent of the seller, Purple Wave fully supports the seller by marketing their assets, creating professional asset listings, conducting the sale on the seller's behalf and collecting payments.


"Without the constraints of a 'bricks and mortar' business, we are now a national company, and our fully trained employees can travel anywhere in the country to help our customers sell their equipment. The company now sees 130,000 to 140,000 different people at its Web site every 30 days."

Purple Wave Auction aims to serve the ag retailer marketplace. "Ag retailers' core job functions are not typically based around selling their used fleet," Westfahl said. "Purple Wave Auction offers retailers a service to help them address this key financial element of their business while remaining focused on their core products and services."

By selling on the Internet, retailers can sell their used equipment where it sits. They do not have to move the equipment. Once a buyer purchases the equipment through Purple Wave Auction, the buyer assumes the responsibility of moving the item.

"We want to be the retailers' business partner because whether retailers recognize it or not, ignoring fleet management or leaving it as an afterthought can contribute unnecessary stress to their company’s overall financial health. Many of the retailers we work with tell us they appreciate the way we’ve modernized an old method of selling assets and made it important and relevant to their business again."