By Kris Jensen-Van Heste

Iron Solutions Inc. is a can-do, get-it-done company headquartered in Franklin just outside Nashville, Tennessee.

The company offers market information, analytics-based intelligence and cloud-based enterprise systems to facilitate equipment transactions and improve dealer and lender profitability, and it’s known for its most popular product: IronGuides®.

Dealers and lenders are likely familiar with the paperback guides, which until a couple of years ago were published quarterly. That was a tradition spanning back to 1937, when the Equipment Dealers Association first collected and published the IronGuides, a comprehensive guide to the appraisal and valuation of used equipment.

Publishing IronGuides as a book limited what we could do, and the decision was made to go fully digital, said Terry Rasmussen, director of construction with Iron Solutions. 

“The challenge with the books was that as equipment became more complex in number of models and configurations, there was too much information to fit into one book. By publishing online we were no longer limited to the printed page and could do what dealers wanted; make available valuations for all model and option combinations.” he said. The books were being published quarterly and regionally, and considerable time was needed to design and lay out each issue, and, he said, going online allowed us to produce a better product.

But when one door closes, another opens. Today, the 80-plus-year-old IronGuides is a full-service online application that does what the books did, but exponentially better.

IronGuides’ users are equipment dealers, lenders and manufacturers, Rasmussen said – anyone, generally, who is interested in the value of used equipment.

Why would a dealership find an IronGuides subscription useful? Say the dealer has a customer who’s interested in a new piece of equipment, and there’s a used piece of equipment on the table as a possible trade-in. A quick trip to the app and the dealer can ascertain a wide variety of data on the piece, including trade-in value.

“Based on things like model, hours, configuration, the region of the country where the piece is located, we provide what the equipment could retail for – in an instant. You select the model year, options, attachments – for example, does it have a cab and air conditioning – and as you enter the hours, the app adjusts the value.

“We also provide a reconditioning value, which is what it takes to get that piece of equipment ready to go to work,” Rasmussen said.

Once a dealer has inputted all the particulars on a piece of equipment, the app calculates values for wholesale, trade rough, trade premium, resale cash and advertised prices.
“Our entire objective is giving the dealers good information so they can make better decisions,” Rasmussen said.

Iron Solutions’offers a free trial. “Then they can get in and use the application, walk through it, and compare the values they see as opposed to personal experience,” he said. “Assuming they like what they see, they can subscribe to the tool.”
Aside from its staunch 80-year history, what sets Iron Solutions apart from its competition is something the company is proud of, Rasmussen said. They work with thousands of equipment dealers across the country who have agreed to submit transaction data that ultimately determines the values of used equipment. “And that’s how we’ve always done it,” he said.

The process begins with the sales transactions, and, after propriety processing, the team builds an analytic model based on those transactions.

“We’re looking at a range of things, what’s the economy doing, we look at residential housing starts, and we’re using all that information in our analytical model to understand what’s driving the values,” Rasmussen said. “Once that’s determined, we release it to our customers.”
Dealers aren’t the only ones using the tool. It’s an excellent asset for lenders and bankers, as well.

“Lenders use IronGuides to determine how much they will loan against a particular machine. Lenders also use the tool to value their portfolio, looking to see what it’s worth and  understand the risk of their portfolio.

“It’s a very hands-on, get engaged, a can-do place to work,” Rasmussen said. “Most of us have grown up – I should say grown old – in the construction and agricultural industries, and many of our employees have worked at dealerships themselves. It’s a very entrepreneurial environment with people with significant expertise in lots of different areas. 
“We come together from different perspectives, and we can get things figured out. When we say there’s something we want to do, we go and do it.”

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