With new headlines still being written about The Bend’s riverfront development in East Moline, it’s easy to overlook the good news stories already being created there.
Take Mecum Auction Company. The world leader in live auctions of collector and classic cars, antique motorcycles, vintage tractors and memorabilia opted to make a permanent home at the Bend XPO center even before it was built.
In fact, the multi-purpose building was built, at least in part, to accommodate Mecum’s signature events. Its large floor-to-ceiling garage doors allow massive vehicles to easily be driven on and off the floor without disrupting the action. It also has the storage area that Mecum requires to stage and store what it needs for its events, said Aaron Tennant, a partner in The Bend on the Mighty Mississippi.
Importantly, too, all year long the company will occupy 20,000 square feet of the 103,000-square-foot XPO center at 922 Mississippi Parkway, Mr. Tennant said. Then, twice a year every year for 10 days, Mecum will take over all 103,000 square feet of exhibit space to present its Gone Farmin’ fall vintage tractor premiere and its spring Gone Farmin’ auction, which is scheduled for March 24-26 this year.
Serious tractor, car, motorcycle and road art enthusiasts from the Quad Cities region are probably familiar with Mecum Auctions and its past vintage tractor events at Davenport’s Mississippi Valley Fairgrounds. And that’s one of the reasons that signing up so quickly for the XPO center was the right choice for the auction company, said Sam Murtaugh, Mecum Auctions’ chief operating officer.
“Mecum has been hosting tractor auctions in the Quad Cities area for many years, and when we learned of the Bend XPO in East Moline being built, we were intrigued by the plans at The Bend not only because of the expanded indoor event space, but also to be able to keep our annual events in the Quad Cities where our attendees enjoy coming to year after year,” he said. “We’re looking forward to taking advantage of future expansion plans at the Bend and continuing to grow our events even larger as a result.”
Both Mecum and the Bend’s partners, who also include East Moline businessman Larry Anderson, were pleased with the Nov. 11-13, 2021, Mecum Gone Farmin’ Fall Premier auction.
“The event achieved $8.3 million in sales with 95% of tractors and trucks headed to new homes,” Mr. Murtaugh said. “Customers and fans also traveled in from all over the country to attend the auction with nearly 4,000 in attendance over the course of the three-day event.”
“Having Mecum in the Quad Cities is a huge win for the region,” said Dave Herrell, president and CEO of Visit Quad Cities. “Mecum drives positive economic development opportunities and we are grateful they chose the QC. Their investment and impact at the Bend XPO coupled with the visibility they provide through their platforms is valued and a great opportunity to activate our brand.”
Despite all that, for some Quad Citians, Mecum Quad-Cities continues to hide in plain sight. They know little of its international reputation as a top auction house or the record-breaking events it regularly holds in places such as Las Vegas, Chicago, Dallas, Kansas City, Denver, Houston and Los Angeles.
According to Suzy Weeks, marketing director of the Walworth, Wisconsin-based Mecum, the company has been ranked No. 1 in the world with the number of collector cars offered at auction since 2011. It also is No. 1 in the world with the number of collector cars sold at auction. In the United States, it ranks No. 1 with both the number of auction venues and the total dollar volume of sales.
Each year in Kissimmee, Florida, Mecum stages the world’s largest collector car auction. At its January 2021 auction, Mecum saw total overall sales reach $122.8 million — the highest single-auction total achieved in its 34-year history.
It also conducts the world’s largest motorcycle auction in Las Vegas and boasts its own television program which has been airing on RFD TV. Mecum recently inked a deal to air 160 hours of live auction from 10 sites on Motortrend TV in 2022.
“Mecum is the leading automotive auction company in the world with the most extraordinary variety of vehicles,” said Alex Wellen, global president and general manager, MotorTrend Group. “Together with Mecum, we will channel our collective fans’ passions with the launch of a wide range of interactive, personal experiences across all of our digital platforms.”
Mecum also boasts Quad Cities area ties. Company President Dana Mecum was born in Monmouth, Illinois, located about 40 miles south of Milan. His father, Frank, owned a Pontiac dealership in Marengo, Illinois, and would later own the largest car fleet dealership in the country.
The auction company was conceived in 1988 by Dana and Patty Mecum and a handful of helpers gathered around the family dinner table, Ms. Weeks said. Today more than 200 people can be found working at on-site events. Many employees have been with the company since its first auction in Rockford, Illinois.
Founder Dana Mecum also is known in auction circles for the Mecum Rule. Under it, if a reserve (the lowest bid an owner is willing to accept) on a vehicle auction isn’t met by auction bidders, the highest bidder is allowed to meet it. If the bidder says yes, no other bids are accepted.
In addition to vintage vehicles, Mecum also is known for its Road Art sales, Ms. Weeks said. The term, which Mecum developed and trademarked, includes any artistic or collectible and nostalgic memorabilia that buyers use to decorate their garage, barn, museum space, or their own home. Road Art was featured at the November Gone Farmin’ event and will be back in East Moline for the March event.