A farm and construction equipment auction company has opened in the former Groendyke trucking terminal near Valley Center.

AgriCon Auction was founded by Gary Graber. The firm will hold its first auction July 25.

"We're beginning to get equipment consigned. We're seeing quite a bit of activity," Graber says.

The company occupies a small office building at the former Groendyke yard near 77th Street North and Broadway, along with six acres to store equipment going to auction. Enid, Okla. based Groendyke Transport moved its Wichita terminal in 2007 to a new facility near 29th and Ohio.

Graber says he started the auction company hoping to take advantage of what he called a lack of an aggressive auction company specializing in agricultural equipment in the Wichita market.

Graber for the past 20 years has owned an equipment financing business, Westar Capital, in Reno, Nev. But before that, he was a partner with his father and brother-in-law at Hutchinson's TriPoint Equipment, which sold Allis-Chalmers, Hesston and Steiger farm equipment. When those manufacturers began struggling in the late 1980s, Graber says he moved west and started his equipment financing business.

But that business has dried up with the financial crisis. Banks have made lending more difficult, Graber says, and his business has gone the way of many mortgage brokers who no longer are able to make deals.

"We've only done two transactions since the first of the year," he says. "I saw this as an opportunity to come back to where my roots are to do something in the equipment business that I really liked."

Graber says he started AgriCon with silent partners. The company will specialize in farm equipment but also has gotten interest from local construction companies looking to sell equipment like graders, skid steers and wheel loaders.

"It seems like people love to go to auctions. They love to go kick the tires," Graber says. "Our mission statement includes providing a really nice atmosphere that people can buy and sell equipment at retail value better than trading it in at a local dealership."