MISSOULA — Missoula brothers William and Matthew Davis set out on their lifelong goal last year to open the best auction house in the Northwest thanks to a nudge from the COVID-19 pandemic.
From selling items out of their garage to making over $1.5 million in online sales, the duo has proven that it doesn’t matter where you come from as long as you’re willing to work. They have their dad to thank for the tough mentality.
“My father was an orphan, and he grew up on the streets and learned to dig bottles and stuff to try to survive,” said William.
Like their father, nothing was handed to Matthew and William while they were growing up.
In order to make it, this duo would need a lot of hard work and a little bit of fate. While the pandemic and fate aren’t synonymous, in some cases, they go hand in hand.
“I went to college in California and got my degree in computer science, and I was working for a due diligence real estate company,” said Matthew, “Last April, I was laid off because of COVID.”
Forced from his job at the hand of COVID-19, Matthew came home to Montana last spring. Waiting for him with a business venture he couldn’t refuse, was his older brother William.
“William and I had talked about starting an auction company for years,” Matthew told MTN News.
Their goal to open an auction house together -- building on the trade that had quite literally helped their father survive, had finally become a viable option.
When one door closes, a garage full of antiques opens. Thus, the Davis Brothers Auction was born.
“We started with a couple of racks, and some of our father's collection that had kind of given us a ground floor start...William collected stuff forever too, and so it was kind of, you know, just start the fire, basically,” said Matthew.
William, with degrees in finance and business -- along with years of antiquing knowledge -- couldn’t be outmatched in the game of auctions.
Matthew, with a career in software, brought something new to the industry.
Throw in some grit and matching pink Crocs, the two proved unwavering in their business venture.
“It’s literally a sacrifice, literally, you decide, you sit down one day and decide, ‘Okay, I'm going to sacrifice everything in my life for this,’ and then you try it,” said William.
“And then morphing it with, ‘Okay, I have this idea of how technology works, let's kind of do something different, and build a company off of that, and then pour your heart into it,” echoed his brother.
Within months, the Davis brothers had outgrown the garage and moved into a larger space on Palmer Street in Missoula.
They’ve worked minimum 13 hour days consistently, forfeited their own paychecks to keep business moving, and pay their employees. They’ve put it all on the line, and it’s worked.
“We’ve been steadily growing over 100% every single auction," William pointed out.”
“Since the beginning of the year, we've done just over $1 million in sales,” Matthew added.
They’ve sold a fully restored 1973 Airstream, a ship’s wheel from the USS Arizona, an original Bob Hope uniform, teacups, furs, figurines and anything else you could imagine. Each item tells just as much of a story as the life of the Davis brothers themselves.
“The long and short of it is that we weren't born with any money at all, we were super poor, we were broke... ramen, bologna sandwiches, salami sandwiches all the time,” said William, laughing with his brother at the memory. “It’s great that we’re able to take the foundation we had and make it into this giant monster that it’s become.”
You can learn more about the Davis brothers and their next auction here.
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