Greg Manning Auctions, Inc. - Company Profile, Information, Business Description, History, Background Information on Greg Manning Auctions, Inc.



775 Passaic Avenue
West Caldwell, New Jersey 07006
U.S.A.

History of Greg Manning Auctions, Inc.

One of the world's most important auction houses for stamps, Greg Manning Auctions, Inc. (GMAI), is also a major auctioneer of coins, sports cards, movie posters, comic books, and other specialty collectibles. Greg Manning does business across the price spectrum but focuses on high-end specialty markets where its expertise and customer service can serve to differentiate the company from the competition. The company has a strong presence in Europe and Asia through joint ventures in Spain and China.

Origins in the 1960s

Greg Manning began collecting stamps at the age of seven, and as a teenager he sold stamps through the mail, earning, by his account, "thousands of dollars per year." After high school, he set out to learn the auction business, realizing that auctions held more potential for profit than the lower-volume retail business. James Rasdale, of the Rasdale Stamp Company, later remembered the young Manning as "very polite, aggressive, and mature," as well as a good judge of people. In 1966, at the age of 20, he held his first public auction. By 1971, he had opened an office, and ten years later his business had grown to the point that he opened a 76,000-square-foot facility in Montville, New Jersey, to house his auctions. At the same time, he was operating a venture called International Postal Marketing, which was cited in 1981 by Inc. magazine as the fifth-fastest-growing private company in the United States. In 1993, Manning's ventures went public as Greg Manning Auctions, Inc. (GMAI), initiating a growth spurt fueled by a rapid series of acquisitions. Purchases including Ivy, Shreve, & Mader Philatelic Auctions; Harmer Rooke Galleries; and CEE JAY Auctions. Although GMAI branched out into auctioning sports cards and other collectibles, stamps remained its focus. The company stockpiled a huge inventory and carved out a niche selling major collections in their entirety, with the quality and enormous volume of material attracting dealers from all over the world. In 1994, GMAI auctioned a collection of envelopes printed with illustrations for $330,000, which was believed to be the largest sum ever paid for an individual stamp collection sold as a whole. The company's aggregate sales for the year rose to $27 million. By 1995, GMAI had 32 employees, a new facility in West Caldwell, New Jersey, and a second office in Manhattan. Manning himself was recognized as one of the world's leading authorities on stamps.

Establishing a Presence on the Web and throughout the World

In 1998, GMAI moved into electronic auctions by purchasing Teletrade, Inc., an auction house that sold diamonds on the Web and by touchtone telephone, for $6 million. Teletrade's technology allowed customers to bid by computer or telephone keypad; their bids registered directly on the auctioneer's computer. Suddenly perceived as an Internet company, GMAI saw its stock leap from $2 to $21 per share. Within six months, Web sales accounted for more than 50 percent of GMAI revenue. In 1999, the company launched a partnership with the online auctioneer eBay. Daily auctions of GMAI goods were held on eBay's site, which boasted 3.8 million registered bidders. Unlike eBay, which bought buyers and sellers together but otherwise stayed aloof from transactions, GMAI continued to serve as a full-service intermediary for its clients, collecting payments, delivering purchases, and serving as a guarantor of authenticity. The company's offerings had expanded to include diamonds (via the Teletrade purchase), movie posters, music memorabilia, fine art, and coins.

Moving into the global market, the company held a 50 percent interest in GMAI-Asia.com, a Chinese Web auctioneer.

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