My First Auction and What I Learned

November 14, 2011

The other day I was reminiscing about what I learned from the first live auction I had ever conducted just over 10 years ago.

Having graduated from World Wide College of Auctioneering two months prior to the event, I had put together a very modest consignment auction from about 5 or 6 sellers.

My inventory was impressive for a variety of reasons and included 2 large electric organs, a piano, a water bed, some pots and pans, older tools, glassware and a variety of items of which were less than memorable.

The inventory was impressive because most of it had little value and I was impressed for a lifetime on what an auctioneer should work hard to avoid selling.

In addition to learning the value of two consigned electric organs weighing over 200 pounds, and moved 3 times with an end result of a no sale, I also learned of the value of kindness and generosity.

The first act of kindness came from Mr. Dunn, who owns Dunn’s Cider Mill near my home. I had been keeping a few bee hives on his property, and he was generous to offer the use of his parking lot for our maiden voyage in the auction industry. I will forever hold a place in mt heart for the Dunn family and the memories that were created there that day.

The next lesson came from an effort to save money on buying tables. I had constructed the saw horse variety using sheets of quarter-inch plywood to display our merchandise. Fifteen minutes before the scheduled start time my wife Aileen noticed an item that needed to be tagged with a seller/lot number. When she placed the items back on the make shift table, the quarter-inch plywood broke in half and like dominoes, all of the tables came crashing to the ground. Did I mention it was 15 minutes before the auction was scheduled to start.

The second act of kindness came from a bidder who I had never met who looked at me and looked at the mess, and simply stated, “well, lets pick it all up.” With that directive, our team and all of the bidders pitched in to set the auction back up. As the Scottish proverb states, Many Hands make light Work. Because it is but little to every one, and because of those many hands we were actually able to start the auction on time.

There were numerous other life lessons  learned that day, including another act of kindness from my good friend Dick Ellis who came to the auction to support me. I know for a fact that he bought a lamp that never made it home, but allowed me to say sold.

It would be an understatement to say that we have come a long way in 10 years.

Life is good, and I am grateful for the acts of kindness and generosity of friends and family, as well as the blessings from My Father in Heaven who guided me to the auction profession.

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Just Another Day For Buck O’Neil, A Baseball Legend

October 16, 2011

Many years ago my wife and I were driving around Kansas City looking for something to do. We decided to check out one of the areas most under appreciated attractions, The Negro League Baseball Museum.

There were only a couple other people in the museum that day, and we were having a good time looking at the displays and reading about baseball history. Well at least I was, and my wife Aileen was being a good sport as she usually is.

We were only there for a few minutes when in walked through the door, the legenday Negro League Baseball player Buck O’Neil. Buck passed away in 2006, but would have been 100 years old next month.

I knew my opportunity would only last a few minutes so I ran to the gift shop and bought a baseball to ask Mr. O’Neil if he would sign it for me. He was gracious to say the least, and was happy to sign the ball. Bucks hands were so big that it looked like he was signing a golf ball, and I imagined that he could have played the game without a glove.  He was definetly in his element, and enjoyed visiting with fans who were there that day.

Several years later when he passed away, it was amazing to see how the city came together to pay tribute to man who was truly an ambassador for Kansas City and baseball. One week to the day he passed, I was working as an Auctioneer for a local childrens charity. Someone from the organization had donated a signed Buck O’Neil baseball. It was impossible to describe the energy in the room that day when we sold that ball. I can tell you though that it was electrifying and I was glad to be part of it.

I still own my signed Buck O’Neil ball, and enjoy the memory that comes to life when I glance at it in my office. For me it was a great day. For Buck, it was probably just another day for a man who loved Kansas City, baseball, and people.

Life is good – pass it on!


Three Different Stories and One Dead Deer.

September 26, 2011

A funny thing happened on the way home one day. I was riding shotgun in a friend’s car back to Fort Stewart Georgia where I was stationed the last 9 months of my time in the US Army.

My friend had just bought a “new to him” BMW and he was very proud of his new ride. It was early in the morning, I was sleeping and was shaken out of my slumber by the sight and sound of a large mass crashing into the windshield and tumbling up and over the car.

My first instinct was that we had hit someone, and immediately my medical training kicked in. As I was waiting for him to come to a complete stop so I could exit the vehicle and assess the patient, my friend started yelling repeatedly, “We hit a deer!”

He pulled over and there was no doubt that the deer was dead and so was his new car. The engine was displaced and every fluid the car had was spilling onto the side of the road.

As I was trying to console my friend who was grieving the loss of his new car, a man in a small truck drove up to see if we needed help. We told him what happened and he offered to drive us to his place of business where he operated a small trucking company and could get us a ride home in one of his trucks.

I mentioned in the beginning that a funny thing happened, and this is where it all began. Of course if you were my friend who lost his new BMW, then there was no humor anywhere in this experience.

Our new friend motioned for us to jump in the back of his truck and as we were climbing in, he asked, “So where is the deer you hit?” We motioned back to the point of impact and he drove back to inspect the animal. When we arrived, we were amazed to see a beautiful 9 point buck. With the exception that the animal was as dead as dead could be, you could hardly tell that he had a run in with a fine Bavarian automobile.

Our new friend then asked us to help him load the deer into the back of the truck, where the three of us rode back to his dispatch office. The whole way there my friend was crying inside and had to stare at the dead deer that had totaled his car.

Once we made it back to the dispatch office, our new friend found us a warm place to sit while we waited for our ride. In the meantime, he started calling his friends on the phone, and we could overhear him telling one after another how he woke up early that morning and decided to go hunting, and how he bagged himself a beautiful 9 point buck.

It was hard not to laugh, and I can assure you, my friend who lost his car was not laughing at all.

To this day, I often wonder if that trucking company halfway between Hinesville and Savannah Georgia still exists, and if it does, is that 9 point buck mounted on the office wall.

This memory of a lifetime is probably a story that gets told on a regular basis by at least three individuals. Me, my friend who lost his car, and the trucking company owner who bagged a 9 point buck one early morning. I would wager that we all tell it just a little different.

This story reminds me of how important it is to remember that we all look at things from our own perspective, and also, if some guy in Georgia shows you a beautiful mount on his wall, he might not be as good of shot as he claims.


Living Healthy and New Goals

September 6, 2011

Those who know me well know that I have strugled with weight most of my adult life. When I was a medic in the US Army I managed to maintain a healthy weight, not neccesarily because I was eating right, but because my activity level allowed me to be less disciplined with my eating habits.

In my twenties I went through periods of athletic activity and worked in jobs that required aerobic activity, again allowing me to be less disciplined with my eating habits. When I was in my thirties, my work environment changed and the combination of poor eating habits and less activity put me on a crash course for a very unhealthy weight.

It took me many years to realize what I know now. Eating healthy in combination with regular exercise is vital to living healthy. It took 4 months to lose the 50 plus pounds that I have been carrying around for far too long, and I am determined to learn from this experience. I picked my 4 year old son up the other day, who weighs just about what I lost, and can’t believe how I was able to carry that weight every day.

Since reaching a healthy weight, I have been searching for a significant exercise goal to pursue while building the habit of regular exercise. I flirted with the idea of training to run a marathon, but remembered how I never really enjoyed distance running of any kind.

A few weeks ago I dusted off my mountain bike and clocked a few miles here and there. As I started to clear my head with a few 2 or 3 mile short rides around the neighborhood, I remembered how much I enjoyed riding. With this rediscovery of a healthy pursuit, I have set my new goal.

In my prime I had successfully completed 50 to 60 miles rides on numerous occasions but have never reached the milestone of riding a century (100 miles).

One of the great things about this blog is that I can use it to publish my intentions to the world and hold myself accountable. I am adding a new category to this site for regular updates in my pursuit of achieving my goal. This new category will be titled Riding a Century, and I hope it will help me document my pursuit of this goal.


Go Go Go, Now Slow Down Already!

June 29, 2011

If you make your living in the auction industry then you know how fast paced and time pressured the world of auction marketing is. For many, myself included, this is one of the things we like most about our business. We are always in high gear working hard to solve problems, sell assets and keep the business headed in the right direction. Every element has a deadline and no two days are ever the same.

This is also one of the biggest challenges we face when we take our auctioneer hat off and go home to spend time with our spouse and children.

Not too long ago I was taking my family to the park to play and have lunch. We stopped at the grocery store to pick up some picnic items. I found myself managing the trip to the store and the park as if it were a time defined auction event. I was rushing everyone around to get what we needed and get to the park so we could “hurry up and play.” Really? Was I expecting to register bidders at the monkey bars?

I am sure that this is not unique to our profession either.

Am I the only one who has a hard time turning off the sense or urgency that is common in the workplace when I get home, while I should be relaxing or focusing on slowing my world down?

What do you do for a living? Do you have this challenge? How do you manage this issue in your life?

For me, the first and obvious step is awareness. The next step is to empower my family to tell me when I am doing this so I can work on slowing down and living a more rich and full life.

My sister Melissa has a saying about quality family time. She calls it “making memories.” I like that.

My hope is that we can all do a better job of leaving our work at the door, and work at home on “making memories.”


Judging a Book By Its Cover Is Never a Good Idea

June 26, 2011

Recently I was reflecting on a road trip that I took about 10 years ago with my wife Aileen to pick up a truck we purchased online. We bought the truck from an Bay seller in Texas and scheduled to pick it up over Memorial Day weekend.

It seemed like a great way to spend the weekend. We flew one way from Kansas City to  Dallas where the seller picked us up at the airport and drove us to his place of business where the truck was located.

The transaction went smooth, and we proceeded to drive our used Ford F-350 flat-bed truck back to Kansas City. We were making pretty good time, and our only agenda was to get back home by Sunday evening as I had a commitment to fly to New Hampshire early Monday morning for an important business trip.

Just south of Sulphur Oklahoma I noticed the temperature gauge started to creep up to a dangerous level. We pulled over to the side of the road and popped the hood to take a look. What happened next was a defining moment for our weekend. Coolant was spewing all over the road from several areas. Did I mention this was a holiday weekend?

Thank goodness for AAA. We made a call and they dispatched a tow truck to our location. As I finished making the phone call, a flatbed tow truck with a Range Rover on the back pulled up behind us. The driver stepped out and walked up to the front of the truck. This man was tattooed from head to toe, and to be quite frank was a bit intimidating as he approached us.

He did a once over on the truck and informed that my water pump had failed. He then asked me if we had someone coming to give us a tow. I updated him on AAA and we made small talk for a few minutes. We learned that his name was Billy, he lived about 75 miles away and was on his way home. He advised us to have the truck towed to Sulphur and thought it was going to be a challenge getting someone to do the repairs before Tuesday because of the holiday.

Before he left, Billy gave me his phone number and told me to call him if we had a problem getting someone to do the repair for us. He said he would help us out if we needed it. I thanked him and he went on his way.

We ended up having the truck towed to Sulphur and dropped in front of a hotel. After checking in we hit the yellow pages and made at least a dozen calls. Just as we thought, there was no mechanic willing to cancel their holiday plans to help us out.

After exhausting nearly all possibilities and getting ready to call my employer, I decided to call Billy to see what he meant when he said “he would help us out if needed.” What happened over the next 24 hours can only be described as a blessing and a lesson.

Billy said he would be there in the morning at 9:30.  He lived 50 miles north of where we were located, and drove about an hour to be there as promised. He brought his wife Sandy and his tools with him. Billy then drove me 50 miles south to the closest part store that had the water pump in stock. We drove 50 miles back to the truck and he proceeded to remove the bad pump on the one ton Ford truck.

Over the next 4 or 5 hours he worked on the truck, which was no small task working in a parking lot on a large vehicle. We talked, and his wife Sandy and Aileen visited as I handed Billy tools as needed. We learned a lot about each other over the course of that day. Billy’s father was a minister, and despite his hard and intimidating appearance, he was a kind and caring man who valued family first as well as helping others when he can.

After the truck was repaired, we shared a meal together at the hotel, and I offered to pay him for his time and expenses. He refused the money. He was genuinely there to help us get home. I felt obligated, and insisted. He had driven over 200 miles and spent an entire day helping us get back on the road. With reluctance, he accepted .

As we were getting ready to leave he let me know that if his repair failed in any way or something else went wrong, to give him a call and he would put the truck on his flatbed tow truck and drive us the rest of the way home to Kansas City. I am confident that he would have done what he said, but it wasn’t necessary. His repair work was flawless, and we made it home in time to get a good nights sleep before I had to leave in the morning.

As sure as I am typing this message, I know that God sent Billy and his wife into our life for more then one reason. Besides helping us get home to meet our commitments, he also taught us a valuable lesson about judging a book by its cover. I am glad that I had the opportunity to meet Billy and his wife Sandy.


The Burn Pile

May 2, 2011

During my service in the Army I spent most of my time in South Korea. My last duty station was at Ft. Stewart in Hinesville Georgia.

While in Georgia I had the opportunity to pick up a few side jobs working with a friend who had been in the area for some time, and had a knack for finding extra work.

One particular job involved moving construction debris from a large pile the size of a semi trailer away from the house that it was removed from, and into a field where we could then burn the pile. We worked for several hours and managed to get about a third of the pile moved into the field and decided to burn this pile and call it a day. We would return another day to move the remainder.

It didn’t take much to get the fire started. Most of the items that were in the pile were removed from a 100 year old plus home and were extremely flammable. This included doors, trim, wall studs, flooring, wall board and more.

At first we stood a few feet from the pile and basked in the glow of our accomplishment. After a few minutes the fire grew much larger and we found ourselves inching back to avoid being burned. Within 15 minutes we were standing at least 20 feet from the fire and feeling the heat pretty good.

Everything seemed to be going well until we noticed that the grass around the burn pile began to catch fire and was spreading slowly outward. My friend, who I should mention was senior in rank, decided to grab the garden hose to water the grass in hopes of keeping the fire from spreading.

The water output was nowhere near capable of getting the job done, and the fire was now working its way to a wood fence which was very close to the new house we were moving the pile away from to protect while burning.

In a flash I remembered an incident that happened while working range duty as a medic in South Korea.

It was during the summer, and someone had left a tracer round in a 50 caliber belt. This was not allowed when weather was dry as tracer rounds are really good at starting forest fires. Sure enough, one round started a fire and within minutes the range was shut down while over 50 of us attempted to put out the fire.

We worked for 30 minutes in a futile effort when a truck with 10 South Korean Firefighters showed up. They walked up to the scene casually, surveyed the fire and dispatched in a line to battle the fire. Within minutes, armed with only picks and shovels, they had the fire contained and sat on the hill eating their lunch while the fire extinguished itself. It was impressive to say the least.

Back to present day. This knowledge was very helpful. We grabbed a couple of shovels and worked our way around the spreading fire digging a shallow trench. Pretty soon we had control of the situation and exhaled in relief.

As we drove away, we were both very grateful for those South Korean firefighters and how experiences can a huge difference in someone’s life. It sure made a difference in my life, and I am very sure it made a difference in that homeowner’s life.

Remember, Life is Good.


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