The Irish Times Business Person of the Month: Derek Keys

Euro Auctions founder and brothers sold business for almost $1.1bn


Derek Keys, co-founder with his brothers of Dromore, Co Tyrone-based Euro Auctions, has been selected as The Irish Times Business Person of the month for August, an award run in association with Bank of Ireland.

Euro Auctions, founded in 1998, was sold last month to larger Canadian peer, Ritchie Bros, which is seeking to expand its European footprint. The deal was valued at nearly $1.1 billion (€850 million).

The Tyrone company conducts unreserved heavy equipment auctions with onsite and online bidding under the Euro Auctions and Yoder & Frey brands. A technologically sophisticated operation, it employs more than 200 people in 14 countries but remains based in the small village where the brothers grew up.

The Keys brothers are sons of a farmer who started a small machinery business that eventually grew into Euro Auctions.


At the time of the sale, Mr Keys said Ritchie Bros, also a group founded by brothers, had provided a “big inspiration” when Euro Auctions was being founded. The Canadian company, which is buying 100 per cent of Euro Auctions, also sells items through a timed auction format.

In 2020, Euro Auctions conducted 60 auctions, selling close to 90,000 items for £484 million (€570 million) across nine locations, including Germany, Spain, the United Arab Emirates and Australia.