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Our History

Rich Vander Werff’s love of the auction business began when he attended livestock auctions with his Grandpa Elgersma as a boy. It was this love that persuaded Rich to attend the Riesch Auction College in Mason City, Iowa, from which he graduated in 1972 at the age of 18. Thus began Rich’s adventure into the auction business. From 1972 to 1977, Rich continued to hold full-time jobs while auctioning on the side. Shortly after his graduation from Reisch Auction College, he was able to obtain a position auctioning livestock with the Northside Sales Company of Sibley, Iowa. Rich began his auction business by selling “pound cows.”

In 1977, Rich obtained his real estate license and, along with Ray Youngers and Ron Rensink, formed Rensink-Youngers Realty, Inc. The purpose of this corporation was the sale of real estate and marketing the auction services provided by Rich. The Rensink-Youngers Agency, also owned by Ray Youngers and Ron Rensink, was in the insurance business, so Rich obtained an insurance license and began selling personal lines insurance as well. The company was already located at its current building at 215 Main St, in Sanborn, Iowa; however the building was only leased at the time. In 1980, at the request of his mentor and friend, Hubert Schultz, a local attorney, Rich began to do appraisals on a very limited basis. He began with no prior educational experience but only the desire to succeed. In 1983, Rich, Ray Youngers, Ron Rensink, Dennis Brechwald, and Pat Murphy formed a new business corporation called ARI Services Limited.  ARI stood for auctions, real estate, and insurance.  During this time, Rich attended classes and by correspondence with the University of Indiana-Bloomington, he obtained a Certified Auctioneers Institute Designation.  This designation was obtained in 1984.  In 1985 the business partnership of ARI Services Limited was dissolved and, while continuing to operate out of the same building, Rich formed a new company, Vander Werff Auctioneers.  It was around this time that Orlan Lux and Todd Hattermann joined the company as auctioneer associates.  In 1987 an auction building was constructed at the newly acquired auction lot located east and north of Sanborn.  Rich had begun running machinery consignment auctions in 1982.  From a historical perspective, the first sale consisted of eight consignors with 32 pieces of machinery.  A recent machinery consignment sale brought in 1200 items from over 200 plus consignors. 

Vander Werff Auctioneers continued its growth through the late 1980’s with the addition of several real estate sales people.  Also the appraisal business begun by Rich in 1980 began to grow.  By this time appraisals were being completed for estates, individuals, corporations, lenders, with the primary focus of the appraisal business being residential and agricultural properties.  In 1991 the federal government mandated the certification of appraisers.  In conjunction with this mandate, Rich obtained his Certified General Real Property Appraiser Designation and License.  Also in 1991, Vander Werff Auctioneers purchased the building which had already been their home for nearly twenty years.  The building was completely renovated to accommodate the company’s growth.  In October of 1993, Vander Werff Auctioneers, Inc. changed their name to Vander Werff & Associates, Inc. to more closely reflect the broadening nature of the business.  In 1995, additional renovation of the building occurred to accommodate the business’ continued growth.  By 1995 Vander Werff & Associates, Inc. was handling small commercial, agricultural, complex agricultural, and residential property appraisals within a fifteen county area of Northwest Iowa.  Real estate and auctions have also played a prominent role in the business success of Vander Werff & Associates, Inc.  Additional staff was added to the Appraisal, Auction, and Real Estate Divisions as growth continued.  In 2001 additional building expansion occurred when Vander Werff & Associates, Inc. purchased the adjacent building and renovated it for office space.  The company’s appraisal division is now comprised of three certified general real property appraisers, two certified residential real property appraisers, one certified associate general real property appraiser and two non-certified appraisers. Rich is licensed in four states (Iowa, Minnesota, Nebraska, and South Dakota), however has completed appraisals in ten states via temporary licensing. As of January 1, 2013 the company has completed appraisals in 88 of Iowa's 99 counties, 36 of South Dakota's counties, 36 of Nebraska's counties, 30 of Minnesota's counties, 3 of Missouri's counties, 5 of North Dakota's counties, 1 of Wyoming's counties, 3 of Kansas's counties, 1 of Pennsylvania's counties, 5 of Wisconsin's counties, 1 of Georgia's counties, 2 of Vermont's counties, 1 of Indiana's counties, 1 of Illinois counties, and 2 of West Virginia's counties. The range of these appraisals is broad and includes all types of complex commercial, business, complex agricultural, residential, and chattel appraisals...the real estate division specializes in farm land sales---auction or private treaty, however also sells commercial and residential property at private listing or auction. The auction division employs two auctioneers and specializes in farm land at auction, however sells all types of farm equipment, industrial and commercial equipment, real estate, antiques, household items, vehicles and more. 

JRB (Jon Hoogers, Brent Vander Werff, and Rich Vander Werff) owns and manages residential properties in 14 northwest Iowa communities. JRB also offers mini and warehouse storage in several northwest Iowa communities. 

While some of the staff perform more than one function within the company, the company has grown from Rich alone in 1972, to over forty full and part time positions today.