Mecum Auctions, which is hosting Chicago Auction in Schaumburg Oct. 5-7, is a household name and for good reason. Its televised auctions are broadcast to nearly 100 million homes, to say nothing of the thousands that attend them live.
In the course of a year, the company, which is celebrating its 30th anniversary, will host 23 auctions nationwide. Since 2011, Mecum has been ranked No. 1 in the world with number of collector cars offered at auction, number of collector cars sold at auction and in for total dollar volume of sales in the U.S.
If you goWhat: Chicago Auction, by Mecum Auctions
Where: Schaumburg Renaissance Convention Center
When: Oct. 5-7; gates open daily at 8 a.m. Vehicle auction begins at 1 p.m. Thursday and 10 a.m. Friday and Saturday.
Note: More than 1,000 vehicles will be auctioned
Sellers check in: 8 a.m.-6 p.m. Oct. 3-4
Admission: $30 at door and after auction starts; $20 in advance
Mecum also hosts the world's largest collector-car auction, held in Kissimmee, Florida, which boasts over 3,000 vehicles.
You surely have heard about them but here's some five company insights you may not know.
1. Mecum is a family run business
Despite being such a large, far-reaching enterprise, the Mecum organization is still family-run. Dana serves as President while his four sons, Frank, Dan, Ben and Harry, are chips off the old block, each running a portion of the company. It's common to find Dana's grandkids at the auctions, too.
2. The Mecum family is from Illinois
Dana Mecum raised his family in the Illinois area, living in Marengo. For the first few years, the company was run from their dining room table before moving to a real office space in Rockford in 1994. In 2011, the company moved to its present headquarters in Walworth, Wisconsin.
3. Mecum Auctions had a windy start
Dana's first auction was in 1988 and it was a near disaster -- a natural disaster. It took place at the Rockford Airport and as the event winded down, a dangerous tornado blew through, downing trees and destroying tents. Dana persevered, hosting a second auction a year later to recoup lost money. It wouldn't be until the third auction in 1990 that he saw a real success.
"Dad always had the vision it would be something," recalls Frank Mecum. "The first 10 years were a struggle for my parents but they kept at it."
4. Auction purchases are more than investments
"At a recent event, a bidder introduced himself to me and Dana," recalls Dave Magers, CEO of Mecum.
"He told me he was going to buy a '58 Olds that day. When asked why, he said when he was 5, his dad bought one new. The whole family piled in, going to a local drive-in to get celebratory milkshakes. He even remembered spilling his in the back seat.
"I asked how close the car was to his dad's and he said, 'No, it is my dad's car.'
"When the hammer fell, he was the high bidder and he broke down in tears, overcome by happy emotion. He then gave the car back to his dad.
"For him (and many others) it's about retrieving memories from the past."
5. Mecum sells more than just cars and trucks
Besides the auctions for four-wheeled vehicles, auctions take place for motorcycles, tractors and what Mecum calls "Road Art" -- investment-grade transportation related signs, pumps, globes, gas cans and relics. An October 2016 auction for these treasures brought in total sales of over $7.5 million with the high seller being a rare Musgo Gasoline porcelain sign. It's price? $230,000.
Mecum Auctions is returning to the area to host its Chicago Auction, taking place at the Schaumburg Renaissance Convention Center, Oct. 5-7.
Over 1,000 vehicles will be auctioned.
"Despite being near the big city, the Chicago auction still has that 'small town feel,' " said Frank Mecum. "You sure can't beat that Midwest hospitality."