After spending his high school and college years helping out at auctions, Richard T. Kiko Jr. had no intention of entering the family business.
He headed for college. After graduating he landed jobs with Fortune 500 corporations. Stark County was a place he would visit to see family.
That changed in 2001 when Richard T. Kiko Sr. asked his oldest son to join the company.
The younger Kiko admits he balked at the proposal. He didn’t think his background with large corporations would mesh with the family-owned business.
Eventually the younger Kiko reconsidered. He started off in commercial real estate, then got an auctioneer’s license. Eventually he became president of the auction business and general manager of the brokerage firm.
Today he leads Kiko Co. as chief executive officer and broker. The company is co-owned by 24 members of the family’s third generation. All are actively involved in the business, Richard T. Kiko Jr. said.
The company is celebrating 70 years in business. Russell Kiko — grandfather to those 24 co-owners — started off with auctions on Fridays at his barn in Canton Township.
The business grew. Kiko’s 13 children eventually took over and kept it going. Richard T. Kiko Sr., oldest son of Russell and Coletta, expanded the business in 1969 by opening a real estate brokerage.
Around northern Ohio, the name Kiko has become synonymous with auctions. That’s a good thing, but it’s not completely accurate, considering the company has six business units.
“We’re trying to break out of just being an auction company,” Richard T. Kiko Jr. said.
When the third generation bought out their parents, they created Coletta Holdings, named in honor of their grandmother. In addition to auction operations, there are multiple real-estate businesses that fall under the holding company.
Kiko points out that while the company has 32 auctioneers, it also employs 65 licensed real-estate agents (some of whom are auctioneers). Last year, the business conducted more than 1,100 on-site real-estate auctions, while generating more than $160 million in real-estate sales and more than $20 million sales of chattel, he said.
KEYS TO SUCCESS
When Russell Kiko started holding auctions, he always conducted an absolute auction as opposed to a reserve auction. Reserve auctions have a minimum price set in advance. Kiko realized that property might not sell if the reserve price wasn’t reached. But with an absolute auction, everything is sold.
The people who attend auctions generally are hoping to buy a specific item. In an absolute auction, the buyers know the item will be sold. “They have confidence they will get it if they make the right bid,” Richard T. Kiko Jr. said.