The decades-old Gene Francis & Associates is expanding in a couple of ways, including a pretty major one.
Tyler Francis says his parents, Gene and Connie Francis, started their business more than 30 years ago to sell farmland, ranches, recreational properties such as hunting grounds, and some residential properties across Kansas. They quickly opened a second office in Anthony and added an auction business to sell farm equipment.
Now his sister, Lori Rogge, is opening a branch of the company in Manhattan.
“So the family business is getting bigger,” Tyler Francis says.
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“To me the real story … is the next endeavor,” he says.
That’s a new online auction company the family is starting called Gavel Roads.
“Our intent is to be the eBay of the construction and agriculture equipment industry,” says Francis, who has been in the asphalt and road construction world for 16 years in addition to being an auctioneer and working in real estate.
“My dad and I have been talking about it a couple of years,” he says of the business.
The impetus has been what they’ve not been able to sell through their traditional auction company.
“Over the years, we’ve seen larger pieces of equipment not make it to my dad’s sales,” Francis says.
That includes agriculture and construction equipment such as excavators, bulldozers and asphalt pavers.
“This will allow us to get into larger items,” Francis says. “That’ll expand our business.”
Mostly the family has been selling used equipment in the $30,000-and-under range. Business has been focused on Kansas and Oklahoma, but Francis says that will change.
“We will focus our business from Canada to Mexico, the Rockies to Mississippi.”
Francis says a new name and business makes sense.
“Gene Francis & Associates is a household name in Kansas,” he says.
Since the company is expanding so far beyond the state, Francis says, “We wanted to brand a new identity and a new business.”
Gavel Roads will kick off in the third quarter.
Francis says the company will allow him and his father to expand their business philosophy into a larger community without affecting Gene Francis’ core business.
“This business gave us an opportunity to work closer together.”