Editor's Note: This article originally appeared in Military Trader magazine.
by John Adams-Graf, editor Military Trader and Military Vehicles magazines
The company weathered a tornado, a change of ownership and even a recession, but documents obtained by Military Trader on March 8, 2014, reveal that Manion’s International Auction House, Inc., has officially ceased operations.
In a letter to an unnamed consignor, Manion’s CEO, Jody Tucker, wrote on March 1, 2014:
It is with a heavy heart that I report Manion's International Auction House, Inc. has been forced to close.
In early January 2014, Manion's suffered a catastrophic website crash that could not be repaired in a timely manner or at an affordable cost. Without the website, our business could not continue.
In 2005, when I took over Manion’s the company was laden with millions of dollars of debit. I had a plan to put Manion’s back on its feet so I borrowed and invested all my savings and retirement. For the past nine years, I have worked tirelessly to build the company and repay as many people as possible.
Three years ago, many of you agreed to work with me to restructure the company’s debt. Thanks to you, we made progress. However, others chose lawsuits. That, coupled with the collapse of Manion’s website, has left me no choice but to close the doors. I’ve lost everything and now no one wins.
All Manion’s employees have been laid off. I am working alone to return as many items as I can.
Before March 15, 2014, please contact me by letter or email if you have consignment items you wish to have returned. Include a detailed description of the item(s) and instructions on where it is to be shipped. I will respond with the cost of boxing and shipping. Unfortunately, the company has no money. I will send you a tracking number once I receive your check for the cost of shipping.
If you would like to come to the Manion’s warehouse to pick up your item(s), please contact me to set an appointment. I want to make sure I am available to help you when you arrive. All pickups must be completed by March 31, 2014.
I’m truly sorry for letting you down,
Jody Tucker, President
P.O. Box 4102, Kansas City, KS 66104
The same day that Military Trader obtained a copy of this letter, we wrote to Manion’s President Jody Tucker with our own questions:
You know Military Trader will get many questions from readers, so we wanted to reach out to you...
1.) Most people want to know, “Where’s the money?” Are there plans for compensating consignors who have past sales?
2.) What will become of existing consignments? What time frame to you predict for any returns?
3) Some people have commented that they have seen items for auction on ebay by you. Are these consignor items or are they owned by Manions?
4) What is next for Jody Tucker?
As of press time, no response has been received to our questions. Should Manion’s President Jody Tucker reply, it will be shared with our readers at the earliest possible opportunity.
When the Maine Antique Digest asked during an interview printed in October 2013, “..if the company was still in arrears to consignors,” Tucker reported, “Absolutely…we’re trying to make it right with everybody. We’re not trying to stiff anyone. We don’t dispute anything that’s owed to anybody. We found ourselves in a bad spot, and we’re trying to fix it…. The bottom line is, we’re not going away, we’re trying to make everybody whole, but it’s a long road.”
But, apparently the road was too long, and Manion’s has gone away. For better or worse, Manion’s held a prominent spot within the hobby. In 1970, founder Ron Manion saw the future of military collectibles and established a world-renowned, auction company catering to this unique hobby. Furthermore, it was Ron Manion who suggested to the owner of Antique Trader that a dedicated magazine to the military hobby could survive. That was more than 21 years ago and Military Trader continues to serve as the hobby’s leading publication.
So, it is with a certain degree of melancholy that I report the demise of Manion’s. Much of my early collecting revolved around the arrival of the latest “Manion’s catalog.” The advent of the Internet was a serious blow to the business model, the company had a plan to survive. A series of unconnected, devastating events, however, were too much.