Sun Valley

My Labor Day weekend was spent working in Sun Valley, Idaho. I headed up to Idaho to help my old friend Mitch Silver with his 32nd annual Labor Day auction. Situated on the grounds of the Sun Valley Lodge over 125 vehicles crossed the block over the two day sale.

It had been over a decade since I had last worked this auction, it was great to see some of my old friends from the car business, and laugh about the old days when we were much younger. The weather was perfect and the crowds filled the tent on Saturday to look at and bid on a wide range of collector cars. I’m looking forward to going back next year.

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This beautiful Rolls Royce sold for $54,000.

The rare supercharged Studebaker sold for $34,000.

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The super sized motor home sold for $125,000.

The rusty Indian

Most of my friends are always on the outlook for old and interesting cars or motorcycles. They usually send me a text message with a couple of pics and the question, “what do you think its worth?”. When I started in the auction business, I worked as an appraiser. I’d help the auction consignors establish a value, so they could get an idea of what their car might be worth before putting them in the auction.

I thought I was pretty good at that job.

But in today’s vintage car/bike market I can’t even come to understanding the market. This 1944 Indian Chief showed up on a local tow company website for their weekly auction. It was hard to get a good look at the old Indian with the posted pictures, so I went out to look at for myself. The Indian Cheif has been neglected for the past 60 years, it was rusty and had been disassembled. It was loaded with what is referred to as patina today.

It was an ex military bike bought in 1950, and by 1953 was put away. Needing a complete restoration, I thought it was worth $5-8,000 in present condition. On Ebay you can find fully restored ones priced from $15-40,000. It sold for $14,600 rust wins again.

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Anywhere

I got a call the other day from an auction chair asking if I was available to work an auction on short notice. The original auctioneer that had been hired ended up refusing to work in the space that was selected for the fundraiser. In my entire time as an auctioneer, I had never heard that before!

While some venues may not be the ideal space for live auction, this one seemed completely workable to me. I have always believed that any space can work as long as there are these two things - a place that guests can gather and a sound good system with which the emcee and auctioneer can work.

So I got to thinking about all the places where I have worked as an auctioneer - hotels, schools, country clubs, golf courses, fairgrounds, basements, garages, parking lots, junkyards, airplane hangers, kitchens, sound stages, radio stations, galleries, courthouse steps, under the shade of a tree, a bowling alley. I have even worked in some unusual and harsh conditions; like in a rainstorm, a snowstorm, a thunderstorm in the Tetons.

Any kind of auctioneer can make any auction work anywhere!

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Back-to-Back-to-Back

All of my Saturday nights through the spring and fall are filled with fundraising auctions. This last week though, our team had back-to-back-to-back auctions Thursday, Friday, and Saturday evenings! I am glad to report that we managed to meet or exceed the goals at each and every event and surpassed the expectations of all those who were involved.

It really is satisfying for me when my clients feel that we knocked an event out of the ballpark. It is especially rewarding when they are loyal clients whom I have had the pleasure of working with the longest in my auctioneering career. In today’s fundraising world, if the same auctioneer is invited back for three or more years in a row; that is considered a long stretch. So, I consider myself supremely lucky to have working relationships of upwards of ten years with some of my schools and non-profits.

I still have a few full weeks ahead, so see you at the next auction!

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Traveling Man

Last week was my busiest travel so far this year. I covered a lot of miles in a very short amount of time.

It started here in Portland after my weekly Wednesday Crosspoint auction gig. From there, I headed to the airport for my 3pm flight to California; a quick stop in Oakland and by 930pm, I had landed in Ontario. An early get-up Thursday morning to catch my shuttle ride to Riverside got me to the Highline Sale. From there, I caught a ride with my friend Rod for the four-hour drive to Vegas. I happened to be staying at the same hotel where the Mecum Motorcycle Auction was held, so I caught a glimpse of that. As luck would have it; three of the best professional motorcycle racers from the 70's and 80's, Gene Romero, Jay Springsteen, and Don Castroon were all on-hand for a VIP Q&A session. It. Was. Awesome!

I was up early again Friday morning to work the Manheim Nevada auction. My lane started at 9am sharp. I had 150 Kia's to sell. I sold 100% of them. By 1045am, I was jumping back on the airport shuttle to McCarran Airport, where I caught the 1230pm departure back to Portland. My plane touched down at 230pm; from there, I headed home to do a quick repack. My next stop was Rosalia, Washington; where I am a judge for my long-time friend, Jay's annual hot rod bash. So I took off from Portland again and did the six-hour drive up to Spokane, Washington. I made it to my parents' house at 10pm and pretty much, went straight to bed. An early get-up Saturday morning, so I could join my parents for their weekly breakfast meet-up at Denny's. I took the long way around Spokane to Rosalia, driving the old highway which winds through the Palouse. Once in Rosalia, I judged 70 cars to come up with the best in the bunch. It sure was hard to pick a winner. After the show and a quick bit of socializing, I headed back to Spokane to have a visit with my parents and to spend the night. I was up very early Sunday morning for my six-hour drive back to Portland.

What a whirlwind of a week - 4 states in 72 hours!

My Other Job

This weekend marks the end of the traditional fundraising season. This autumn through spring, each of the not-for-profit groups that I worked with saw another solid year of growth. But I didn't do it all on my own.

We have to thank all the volunteers who work tirelessly throughout the year for these schools and committees; so that when I show up on the day of the big event, the audience shows up and is ready to do its part by giving. It really does take a huge team, most of which are your steadfast volunteers, to make sure that your fundraising auction is successful. So when it comes time; before, during, and post-event, make sure that you recognize how much you appreciate the help of your event staff!

I have some exciting auctions coming up, with a bit of a break in July and August. So I'm looking forward to enjoying some warm weather this summer and then to branching outside the Portland area this coming fall.

Arizona Bound

Last week marked my first return to Arizona for collector car week in over a decade. I went to work for my old boss, Mitch Silver, to help him sell some of the six hundred plus cars he was offering over his four day auction. It had been thirteen years since I had last worked at the Silver Auctions annual collector car auction in Fountain Hills, Arizona. It sure felt good to be back amongst old friends and on familiar ground.

If you're not familiar with what auction week is in Arizona, it's basically when the whole of the Scottsdale area gets turned into a huge week of collector car auctions. There were seven different auction companies in Scottsdale this year offering over two thousand collector cars for sale! It started on Monday, January 16th and continued the entire week right through to Sunday, January 22nd.

Our days would start at 10am. Each day would go on for about ten hours. That's what it would take to run two hundred collector cars across the auction block. I worked with three other auctioneers each day. We worked in shifts, each selling ten to fifteen cars before rotating out. When we weren't on the auction block, we would work in the auction ring to spot bids and to assist the auctioneer who was onstage selling. By the end of the three days, my feet and legs were killing me. I must be getting old!

The collector car business is forever changing. Cars go in and out of favor, depending on market conditions. But as always; the best quality, most rare and uniquely interesting ones, never have a problem finding a new owner.

Everyone has an opinion of the health of the collector car market. From my perspective, it looks pretty darn healthy. It was really great to work with my old mentor, Mitch, and to see all of my old friends who have been some of my best supporters throughout my career as an auctioneer.

This impressive 1960 Chevrolet Bubble Top, sold for $50,000.

This impressive 1960 Chevrolet Bubble Top, sold for $50,000.

This nice 1934 Ford Roadster sold for $34,500.

This nice 1934 Ford Roadster sold for $34,500.

Who doesn't love an E-Type Jaguar?

Who doesn't love an E-Type Jaguar?

Back On the Run

Within the first week of January, I have already been to Canada, California, and Las Vegas. It's good to be busy!

While the fundraising part of the auction business doesn't get rolling until February, January is chock-a-block full of collector car and vintage motorcycle auctions.

First up is Scottsdale, where a week-long collector car feast made up of seven auction companies competing for the business of car enthusiasts world-wide. It also happens to be a multi-million dollar week! Barrett-Jackson alone, is expecting to sell in excess of $100 million in cars; with the rest of the auction houses coming close to match that same amount too. You're playing with the big boys here.

Next up in the week immediately following, the focus shifts from cars to motorcycles in Las Vegas; where hundreds of motorcycles will cross the combined auction blocks of Mecum and Bonhams auction companies. At Bonhams (www.bonhams.com), a rare Crocker motorcycle is expected to go for $500 to $600 thousand. Over at Mecum (www.mecum.com), it is offering a fantastic selection of motorcycles at no-reserve. It's sure to be an excitement-filled week. I'll be there, so I hope to run into some of you. Drop me a line on Facebook, Instagram or Twitter; or just swing by to say hello.

Happy New Year everyone and happy bidding and browsing to those of you heading down to Arizona and Nevada!

Happy Holidays

With Thanksgiving turkey in the rearview mirror, it's a quick countdown to Christmas only three weeks down the road.

Waterwatch wrapped up this year's fundraising with a bang. Thanks to Nina Johnson for sharing her photography skills. Next year is already looking to be a Happy New Year filled with fun fundraisers. Good to have our loyal repeat customers back and a warm welcome to new clients joining our team. We look forward to starting the 2017 fundraising season right with a new-to srdorsey auctioneering not-for-profit group. Revving up in February and gearing down in November, there is still lots of availability remaining in the first and last months of next year's auction calendar. If you have a specific date in mind, best to get on the stick!

A couple of notable upcoming events is auction week in Arizona, January 18 to 22. You will see a record number of cars consigned this week in 2017, with seven auctions competing for your business. Even I have been eyeing a few auctions I may head down to. There are some worthwhile cars to bid on. Of course, don't forget to check out the first motorcycle auction of the year too.  Mecum returns to Las Vegas January 27 to 29. I'm planning to make it down there for at least one of those days.

So happy holidays to you and your families. Thanks for a tremendous 2016! I wish you all the best in the new year and am excited to see what 2017 has in-store for us all.

Thanks for a Great Year!

This past weekend, the srdorsey auction team finished up another successful fundraising auction season. In 2016, I'm proud to say that we helped over 20 non-profit societies, public and private schools, and charitable foundations reach their fundraising goals! Overall giving was up this year; but the auctions that took place during the uncertainty of election week, may have suffered a bit of pull-back. Despite 2016's being an election year, each and every one of our returning clients saw an increase in what they had raised from the year before.

I'm very excited to welcome four new clients who will be joining the srdorsey auctioneering team in 2017! I'm really looking forward to 2017's turning into another great fundraising year too. Please also join me in welcoming Dave Colson to our team. You may have already seen him around on the ballroom floor. In the new year, he will be making regular appearances as ringman and lending his hand as auctioneer too.

Our 2017 event calendar is filling up fast! If you're looking to bringing us back again in the coming year or considering holding your very first fundraising auction; the srdorsey auctioneering team would be happy to answer any questions you may have.

Thanks everybody, for a great year!

Bigger Is Not Always Better

At the end of November, we will be finishing up our final fundraising auctions for the year. The last one on our roster is slated for the Soul River Foundation. Chad Brown is in charge of this not-for-profit aimed at helping inner city kids and veterans who suffer from PTSD. To learn more about the good work he is doing, you can check him out at www.soulriverrunsdeep.com.

This year has already been a big year for growth. All-told, eight new clients joined the srdorsey fundraising team. A couple were very large auctions with over 300 people in attendance and more than a $150K raised in one night! Though the majority came to us as grassroot groups starting up with their first fundraising auctions. Most had limited to no experience in organizing a fundraiser. So we were able to guide and coach them into holding their first auctions, which turned out to be better events than they had imagined possible.

On average, we managed to raise between $20,000 and $50,000 on auction night, which was enough to cover their expenses and provide much needed revenue for these kickstart non-profits. Our success didn't surprise me; but what did, was how difficult it was for these small groups with limited resources, to find an auctioneer who was willing to be paid less to work a smaller auction.

In my experience and opinion; it is even more crucial to hire a professional auctioneer for a smaller and newer auction, than it is for a well-established auction that has been running year upon year. Most auctions take at least three years to establish themselves. Usually in year one, we establish a baseline of funds raised. The next year, we improve a bit more by raising more than we did at the inaugural event. Then by the third year, the tendancy is for the amount of money raised to plateau. But not to worry; because by year three, we have typically tripled the amount we have raised from the first auction!

So whether you are considering your first ever auction or you need to spice up your tenth annual one, we are glad to help you out!

Chad Brown. Photo compliments of www.soulriverrunsdeep.com

Chad Brown. Photo compliments of www.soulriverrunsdeep.com

Back to Where It All Began

This past weekend I had the opportunity to help my old friend and former employer, Mitch Silver. He was just an hour and a half away; up in Shelton, Washington for a small collector car auction held at the Little Creek Casino. We offered up 75 cars and easily sold a third of them.

Working with Mitch on Saturday brought me right back to the days where Mitch and I, along with the rest of our auction crew, traveled around the Western United States every weekend doing small regional auctions just like this. Before the time that television cameras starting showing up at collector car auctions and the age of the internet, these auctions were the mainstay of the collector car business. Oftentimes, these smaller car auctions offered the smart buyer a good deal on a car. A savvy seller could also benefit from the limited inventory at these smaller shows; making his car more special, therefore a standout at the auction.

Can You Believe?

It's two months till the end of another school year and only eight months till Christmas! I cannot believe how quickly the time is moving this year. Can you?

I wasn't quite ready to plan for next year, until a few of my eager-beaver clients asked to book me as their auctioneer again for next March. So now I've got two weekends of the first quarter of my 2017 daytimer already filled. March is the earliest that I have ever had a client request a booking into the following year. Al likens it to booking your favorite, annual vacation rental. You've had such a fabulous time; that no sooner you are packed up and out the door, you are ready to commit to coming back to another wonderful weekend at the cabin.

So if your fundraising group is going ahead with your scheduled event next year, you might want to pen in a date with your chosen venue and preferred auctioneer.

Calendar by timeanddate.com.

Tick Tock

The clock starts now. We're already a month into the new year. Time is ticking away for the upcoming 2016 fundraising season. This year is already turning out to be even better and busier than it was in 2015! I'm proud to say that each one of our clients saw an increase in attendance and in dollars raised at every event at which we auctioneered last year.

I would encourage anyone who is thinking of holding an elaborate auction gala or just a simple event with a special appeal, to start planning as soon as possible. If you haven't booked a venue or an auctioneer yet; at this point in the game, you may not get your first pick. Those choice weekends book up fast, so make sure you have your favorite ballroom and professional auctioneer lined up ASAP!

You can never be over-prepared for success.

#Hurry!