BEHIND THE SHADES: Steve Davis on the evolution of Barrett-Jackson

Barrett-Jackson President Steve Davis

Barrett-Jackson President Steve Davis

Steve Davis’ dark glasses protect his eyes from a light sensitivity condition – but that doesn’t hinder his vision of the collector car market.

 

After riding the incredible roller-coaster ride that is Barrett-Jackson for the last 20-some years, I can honestly say the 2018 Scottsdale Auction was 100-percent validation of our ability as a team to turn what was once purely a car auction geared totally to enthusiasts and collectors into what is now, by every definition, a true world-class event.

We had over 1,700 diverse collector cars appealing to every niche, interest and genre you can imagine. We had celebrities. We had titans of industry. We had a former President of the United States. We had the most anticipated car on the marketplace today being sold at No Reserve – the 2017 Ford GT – that pushed us over $100 million raised for charity to date.

We’ve created this highly entertaining, rock-and-roll, take-no-prisoners magic environment that appeals to everyone from those with a net worth in the billions down to somebody who saved just to buy an entry ticket – they’re all coming in the same gate, and they’re all taking away a different, but equally memorable, experience.

President George W. Bush at the 2018 Scottsdale Auction.

President George W. Bush at the 2018 Scottsdale Auction.

Of course the heartbeat of it all, the nucleus, is the auction. Every two minutes, there’s a car selling, from the time you walk in until the time you leave – much of it broadcast around the world on live television. There’s the excitement of bidding, and the car of your dreams bringing a world-record price. Watching a winning bidder score a great deal on a vehicle. Wishing you had bid on a particular car. It’s human drama: the expectation, the anticipation, the “reality TV-esque” appeal of Barrett-Jackson.

"There's the excitement of bidding, and the car of your dreams bringing a world-record price..."

“There’s the excitement of bidding, and the car of your dreams bringing a world-record price…”

The reality is, there is a percentage of those who come to our events who aren’t primarily motivated by the auction itself. There is a wonderful cross-pollination of people who love cars, people who love the entertainment, people who love the excitement. There are adrenaline junkies who want to experience the Ride ’N Drives, or those who want to try their luck on the dyno at the Ford display. Some may want to just come for the party-like atmosphere, or shop in an exclusive mall-like environment where you can buy everything from fashion and furniture to jewelry, art and even jets. Others want to see the best and most unique vehicles in the world and talk to the people who know about the cars and the car culture.

"It's a number of seemingly random components that capture you and dictate your voyage as you navigate through more than a million square feet and acres upon acres of coolness..."

“It’s a number of seemingly random components that capture you and dictate your voyage as you navigate through more than a million square feet and acres upon acres of coolness…”

It’s a number of seemingly random components that capture you and dictate your voyage as you navigate through more than a million square feet and acres upon acres of coolness – but at the heart of it all is the profound love that people have with their automobiles; the stories they reflect upon when they see the cars.

For me personally, it reinforces that what we do is so much more than buying and selling cars. It’s about impacting people in ways that only we can as a result of the platform we’ve created, such as through all of the amazing, monumental charitable moments on the auction block. I mean, to have a former president there, with standing room only in the arena, and everybody together celebrating the cause of taking care of our military men and women – now that’s a moment! You can’t put a value on what that experience represented for the people in that room.

"A man with terminal cancer told his friends and family that the last thing he wanted to do in life was go to Barrett-Jackson; not only did he come to our Scottsdale event, but we arranged for him to ride in a car across the auction block."

“A man with terminal cancer told his friends and family that the last thing he wanted to do in life was go to Barrett-Jackson; not only did he come to our Scottsdale event, but we arranged for him to ride in a car across the auction block.”

At every auction I’m reminded of how we’ve evolved into an event with a far-reaching impact that goes well beyond the hard-core car-guy auction that Barrett-Jackson used to be. We’ve had engagements and even marriages at our events. I had a thank-you note recently from a family who has had four generations attend Barrett-Jackson; they’ve been coming since the very first auction. A gentleman came up to me in Las Vegas and told me his late father put in his will that he wanted to be buried with his Barrett-Jackson credential. Another man with terminal cancer told his friends and family that the last thing he wanted to do in life was go to Barrett-Jackson; not only did he come to our Scottsdale event, but we arranged for him to ride in a car across the auction block. These are things we all take away from this, and every one of us who works at Barrett-Jackson owns a little piece of that. It’s not a “job.” It’s about touching peoples’ lives.

Now, we continue to build on the dream. We’ve accomplished a lot of goals, and now we add layers to the experience. That’s really what this is all about: The Barrett-Jackson experience. From a car auction to an event to an experience – that’s the evolution.


For a look at what vehicles will be adding to the experience of the 2018 Palm Beach Auction, click HERE.

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