Auctioneering is an art form, and not one that is easily mastered. It takes time, dedication and training.
This is exactly what members of the Colorado Auctioneer’s Association strive to do at their annual convention. The 55th annual Colorado Auctioneer Association’s Convention was held on Jan. 4-6 in Denver, Colo., and members came from all over the state to partake in contests and seminars.
Saturday the 6th marked the contest day, and 13 contestants participated in the Colorado Auctioneer Bid Calling Championship. The champion was Sean Allen of Morrison, Colo., and the runner-up was Scott Shuman of Eaton, Colo.
Allen graduated from auctioneer school in 2009, but his interest first peaked when he was younger. “A friend of mine worked at a public auto auction when I was in high school, and we helped them out on sale day,” he said.
After high school he went to school, and then worked with his father at their auto business. “I was going to car auctions about every week, and did that for 10 years. Then I decided to go to auction school with my friend, and thought maybe I could learn a trick of the trade,” he stated.
However, he learned more than he bargained for. “It changed my life. It’s so much bigger than just cars. It opened up a whole new way of thinking, and I’ve never looked back,” Allen said.
He considered himself a full time entrepreneur, and uses auctioneering to further his ability to earn an income. “I go out every day and try to carve out my own living. Auctioneering has given me another way to earn an income, and I really appreciate it,” he explained.
Allen also works with Steve Linnebur, who he considers a mentor. “He has taught me how to run a good auction and promote the auction industry. I look forward to working every sale that he hosts,” he said.
He also works benefit auctions, because it is his way to give back. “I may not have $100 to donate to a cause, but I can use my skills to help them. When I walk away from a benefit auction I feel proud that I was able to donate my time and help them raise money,” he stated.
Allen felt surprised to win the state championship, because he was competing against many seasoned veterans. “It was a shock to win. All the competitors are such seasoned veterans and seasoned professionals. I have a lot of gratitude and humility. To be judged the best I definitely embrace, and am very proud,” he said.
His family was there to support him, and that made a difference for him. “It meant everything to have my family there. They are the most important thing in life to me. To share the whole experience with them was absolute joy,” Allen said.
Allen was awarded a custom designed belt buckle, inclusion on the Chuck Cumberlin traveling trophy, and $1,000 to be used towards the International Auctioneer Championship held in Indianapolis, Ind., this coming July.
“I will be practicing a lot for that contest. I don’t foresee that I will get to a point where I’m completely comfortable, and I want to get better every day. The best practice is a live sale. I’ve got some good friends that are as determined as I am though, and we practice together to get better. That will be my immediate focus and keep getting better,” he said.
The contests were not just limited to the experienced auctioneers. A first-timers contest was directly before the championship, and four new auctioneers competed in the competition. The winner of the contest was Greg Medvest of Hayden, Colo.
Even though the contests are always popular with attendees, the seminars also helped the participants to learn more about the different aspects of the auction business.
The three-day convention offered those who attended a variety of workshops and lectures dealing with the auction business. One of the speakers was collectibles appraiser Tim Luke, who is known for his appearances on “Antiques Roadshow” on PBS and HGTV’s “Cash in the Attic.”
He spoke to the participants about frauds, fakes and fantasy items in the collectibles market, and how to tell these items apart.
“With these types of items, it’s all about the attention to detail. You can’t believe what the client tells you. You have to be the voice of reason, and then explain why. Your credibility is at stake,” he explained.
He then went into many different examples of items he has come across in his life that are faked, such as cast iron toys. “One of those things you are looking at with cast iron is the paint color, size of the piece and consistency. The makers had a lot of pride and were very detailed,” he said.
Next, he talked about signed memorabilia, which he said is the most faked item on the market. “You need to distinguish the type of paper and the type of ink that was used. There were no Sharpie’s back then,” he said.
He continued, “Today, a lot of sports players pay kids to sign their name on stacks and stacks of photos and items. You have to check that. Unless you saw it signed, it may be fake.”
He then added a tip for anyone wanting to do appraisal work within the auction industry. “You have to dig deeper and do the due diligence. You have to be able to say this is what it is and why,” he said.
Lynne Zink, the 2012 International Auctioneer Champion in the women’s division and the President of the Maryland Auctioneer’s Association was also a presenter.
Her focus was on the five Ps of personal development. “You must begin by learning about yourself. Know and develop your strengths. Know your weaknesses. If you don’t know, do research. Avoid imitation. People want to like you for you,” she said.
She then talked about courage, and what it takes to get on the stage. “You must have the habit of courage. Anxiety feels worse than it looks. Be confident and make it look easy, and take charge of your body,” she stated.
The fourth item she talked about is especially important to auctioneers. “You must always be perfecting the schmooze. You should meet and understand why people ate there at an auction, and make a connection with them. You have to be able to communicate,” she said.
She continued, “When you make connections with people, it helps with every aspect of business and life. Establish relationships before you need them. Taking the time to communicate with other people makes a big difference in your life. Keep reaching out to people.
The last seminar on Saturday was presented by Hannes Combest, the CEO of the National Auctioneers Association. Her presentation focused on what the aspects are of a good team in the auction business.
“As you think about your business, you need to think about your team, and what the characteristics of a good team are. In my opinion, it’s this: Everyone knows their roles; they understand the end result; and everyone is committed to success,” she said.
She continued, “Hire good people. Look for people who are having fun at an auction, and pursue them.”
She then added these words of advice, “All people really warn to do is to feel good about themselves and their contribution to your business,” she stated.
In addition the contests and seminars, the members also participated in a fun auction on Jan. 4, where the proceeds raised benefitted the organization and their scholarship fund. On the final day, Jan. 6, the most recent Hall of Fame inductee, Walt Partridge, was announced. Partridge owns Partridge Auction Services in Parker, Colo.
Organized in 1958, the Colorado Auctioneers Association now has about 135 members. The organization promotes the auction method of marketing to all buyers and sellers through continued professionalism, education and experience. ❖