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Sunday, Aug. 28, 2016

Auctioneers are the fastest talkers around

Thursday, November 18, 2004

Words roll out of the mouths of Paul McCartan and Rick Winegarden, hands fly up, and within only a few minutes they yell, "sold" to the highest bidder.

The fast talkers are auctioneers for the Sale Barn, Realty and Auction in Pocahontas and both have received awards for their speed.

McCartan competed in the national auctioneering contest and did well. The event gave him the itch to go on to compete in the world competition, held earlier this month in Canada, talking his partner into the competition as well. McCartan placed in the top five and finished third and Winegarden placed in the top 10.

In addition, McCartan was the 2003 Iowa State Champion Auctioneer and Winegarden was the 2004 third runner-up in the state contest.

In most competitions, the auctioneer is given two minutes to "impress" five to seven judges with his or her chants and selling abilities.

The competitions, McCartan said, build confidence, an assurance that they are good at their jobs, as well as provide credibility.

Auctioneering is satisfying career for both of the men.

McCartan admitted it has never been a life-long dream to go into the business but he attended several auctions as a youngster with his dad and was always intrigued with the auctioneer's job. It wasn't until he was in college that he decided he'd like to give the career a try and found he really enjoyed it.

For some time, McCartan lived in Oklahoma where he worked for a real estate company conducting FDIC auctions. He traveled all over the nation for his job. He returned to Iowa and is glad to be back.

Winegarden, on the other hand, never had to give it a second thought. His dad Robert was an auctioneer also and he grew up helping with the sales. He was 15 when he became a ringman, taking bids from the prospective buyers, and 18 when he began calling. There wasn't a doubt in his mind that he wanted auctioneering to be his career.

Both Winegarden and McCartan received training and didn't have to go far, either. They attended the World Wide College of Auctioneering in Mason City which has a great reputation, training students worldwide.

The course is only 10 days long. Students realize real quick whether they have what it takes to be an auctioneer or they don't.

The training is intense and consists of repeating chants and tongue twisters and numbers over and over again.

Even though it would seem that the men get enough practice talking at all the auctions they conduct, they admit that more practice is necessary. Driving down the road, is the perfect time to "sell" light poles and anything else that is passed by (plus, it makes any trip go quickly.)

"It's important to keep that rhythm. It's like an athlete who needs continual practice to keep improving," said McCartan.

He got into the competition side of the auctioneer world a few years ago and has taken part in many contests. He has the itch now, he said, adding that he learns something new during each competition about his own tactics and new ones to add to them.

The auctioneering world is still quite strong, despite the computer world which offers E-Bay, the new way to sell items. The auctioneers are seeing many new faces at the sales, bidding on the renowned "boxes filled with stuff" which go for sometimes a little bit of nothing. The high bidders of these boxes are always trying to get some treasures. Many people will in turn resell some of these items on E-Bay and hope to make a large profit.

"E-Bay has helped us as far as auction exposure," said McCartan. Though he sees live auctions as the "ultimate" way for persons to sell a large number of items, E-Bay provides an "alternative" to the seller.

The auctions allow for the sellers to be paid for their items within a few hours whereas using E-Bay to sell items requires patience as it sometimes takes days for items to sell.

On sale day, McCartan and Winegarden know that their efforts are all for the seller. "They're number one that day. What we do effects them monetarily," said McCartan. He added that when a sale is being organized, the auctioneers and sellers get somewhat of an idea what the sale will bring in dollar-wise. "There's nothing more fun than to surpass that amount," he said.

Getting the right crowd to attend the sale is one of the most important parts of the plan. McCartan and Winegarden take great pride in their marketing skills and have been recognized for them, receiving National Auction Marketing Awards for their carefully laid out sale bills.

The Sale Barn, Realty and Auction features consignment auctions three times a year with sometimes as many as 2,000 items on the auction block. With three auction rings going at one time, the sale goes quite quickly.

The job of the auctioneer may be tiring and even stressful but it is also exciting. "I enjoy meeting all the different people," said Winegarden.

The two Pocahontas auctioneers will continue to do their jobs and now that they are "sold" on the idea of competing with other auctioneers, they will be out there.