The crowd squeezes in to check out the merchandise.

More than 500 registered on-site bidders, along with 27 on-line bidders, gathered to bid for one of New England's largest water well drilling outfits May 10 in North Smithfield, R.I. A&W Drilling and associated companies - A&W Vermont, Baker Well, B.C Well and Flemming Well - were put up for auction by Salvadore Auctions & Appraisals Inc. of Warwick, R.I. A&W and related companies had filed for state receivership early in December 2005, according to Michael Salvadore Jr., president of Salvadore Auctions & Appraisals. “We had to retrieve assets and rolling stock from all six New England states as well as upstate New York in the dead of winter,” says Salvadore. “A&W had drill rigs, tender trucks, tri-cone bits, compressors, pick-up trucks, trailers, welders and everything. As those who came to the auction experienced first-hand, the rigs and assets filled almost 4 acres of land to the brim. The bidding was up-close, personal and, at times, heated. There were so many bidders we had to rent a mill for parking and bus them in! It took the entire North Smithfield Police Department to control the traffic and crowd.”

Michael Salvadore Jr. takes bids.
Bidders came from 32 states and 11 countries, including Pakistan, Mexico, England, Dominican Republic, Argentina, New Zealand, Guatemala, Chad, Nigeria and Ireland. On-line bidders were registered from New Zealand, Mexico, Costa Rica, South Africa and England, as well as 10 states.

The auction, which had 860 lots, was held at the Rhode Island facility of A&W Drilling. Salvadore reports that “Disappointingly, we had to pass on two lots in the auction, but we sold the other 858 lots.” According to Salvadore, this was the largest single offering of late-model rotary water well drilling equipment in New England. “Some rigs were only two or three years old, some were six years old, but all the equipment was in good condition and drew huge interest. The seven Driltechs and one Ingersoll-Rand drill rigs brought big numbers, all going close to $300,000 each.”

Rigs went to New Zealand (Internet bid), Canada and Mexico (Internet bid), as well as Maryland, New York, Connecticut and Kentucky (Internet bid). One rig was bought for trans-shipment to the Far East over the Internet. “It was a rainy day and the crowd hung around through the dreary day right to the very end and I thank them all for that,” Salvadore says. “Four days after the auction, the yard was empty and the company's assets have been scattered around the world.”