DENVER, Pa. – Construction crews have broken ground at Dan Morphy Auctions’ south-central Pennsylvania premises to initiate a 6-month expansion project that will nearly double the firm’s existing gallery, office, preview and storage space to 35,000 square feet. Upon completion, Morphy’s full-service venue will rank among the largest of all eastern U.S. auction houses.
“Our growth has been explosive. We’ve more than tripled the number of sales we conduct annually – from six or seven a year to more than 30 a year,” said the company’s owner and CEO, Dan Morphy. “We’ve been bursting at the seams and need more display space, more storage and office space, and a large, purpose-built auction room to handle the volume of sales.”
When completed, the preview gallery will feature an additional 4,000 square feet of display area, enabling consigned articles to be viewed for several months prior to sale.
Eight additional office spaces, a conference room and individual executive offices are part of the plan, as are three self-contained photography studios. “Based on the number of collections that had been coming in, we could foresee that we were going to need these additional studios,” said Morphy.
The jewel in Morphy’s crown is the proposed 4,000-square-foot ballroom-style auction gallery with 110 theater-style seats, each with a fold-over lap desk and cup holder. Four of the seats will accommodate physically challenged bidders. The acoustically perfect saleroom will be independently climate controlled and specially wired for the latest electronic and Internet devices, and will be enhanced by a chandeliered tin ceiling, marble floor and professionally designed dais for phone-bidding lines. Auction attendees will be able to dine in the adjacent café – where they’ll be able to follow the sale on a 5-foot TV screen – or out on the patio, where additional seating will be provided.
The new construction will also create a fully enclosed loading and unloading dock with a hydraulic lift that adjusts to any truck or van height, and an adjacent 1,000-square-foot holding area for goods to be loaded in or out. From there, incoming consignments are easily movable to a custom-built 9,000-square-foot storage space with a 25-foot-high ceiling and museum-quality storage rack system that can accommodate everything from fine art to jukeboxes.
Other amenities to be added are a black-light room, more restrooms and a 600-square-foot checkout and packing room where Morphy staff, or the customers themselves, can pack up their purchases.
A top-notch security system will be installed, adding another 26 surveillance cameras to those currently in use. A new digital phone system has already been installed.
Eighty new parking spaces will be created, and the gallery’s façade will undergo a mini makeover with the installation of a beautiful hotel-style canopy extending from the front door. “This new feature is more than just cosmetic. It’s also functional,” said Morphy. “Our customers will appreciate it when it’s raining or snowing, or if they’ve purchased a large or heavy item and want to drive up to collect it.”
Morphy said he feels very fortunate that his auction business and on-site Adamstown Antique Gallery have performed as well as they have in the midst of an economic recession. “I think our growth can be attributed to the way we run our operation and the way we treat our bidders and consignors, who tell us they like the way we promote and advertise our sales. They especially like the extended preview period, which is something Morphy’s is known for.”
“We’re a relatively young company, now in our seventh year. The antiques community has welcomed us, and the word has gotten out about how we change with the times and reinvest our profits into new technology and marketing strategies,” Morphy said. “We’ve been putting more money and effort into Internet exposure, and it has paid off. Five years ago, our auctions were 70 percent sold to in-house bidders, with 30 percent going to the Internet and phones. Now we sell 80 to 85 percent to the Internet and phones. People are more confident about buying through the Internet and know they can trust our catalog descriptions and condition reports.”
The World Wide Web has made it possible for Dan Morphy Auctions to become an international presence, Morphy said. “The Web has exposed us to international clients who might not have found out about us as quickly through traditional methods. It’s a cheaper, faster, easier way of doing business.”
Morphy, a 38-year-old graduate of Penn State, said he has a 25- to 35-year business plan in mind and that the expansion is essential to its success. “The future of this company is very bright. In undertaking this expansion project, I’ve had the unwavering support of my family and my loyal, dedicated staff, who are very excited about what lies ahead for us.”
Morphy said others who are playing a key role in the evolution of Dan Morphy Auctions are Susquehanna Bank, who provided the financing for the new expansion, architects Althouse, Martin & Associates; and the award-winning local firm Benchmark Construction, which is widely known for its upscale commercial projects.