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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On the run.

The second week in May is always a busy for me. We start off on Tuesday with one of my long time clients, the Fly Fisher Club of Oregon, with their annual foundation auction. We will be raising money again this year for the continued protection of native fish and stream reclamation projects here in the state of Oregon.

On Saturday we will be working the Blosser Center, they help both children and adults who are dealing with Dyslexia. In between that I’ll be doing weekly car auction here in Portland and then heading down to Las Vegas to finish out my week.

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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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Oktoberfest

October kicks off the fall fundraising season here at srdorsey auctioneering! Instead of the bevy of beer and bratwurst that defines Oktoberfest, our month is chockerblock full of benefits and galas, special appeals and fundraising auctions.

This year, we are back at the World of Speed Museum. We are working again with Chad Brown and his Soul River Foundation in Portland, then onto San Francisco for the Wild Salmon Center 25th anniversary celebration at the end of the month. We will likely raise over a million dollars at these three auctions alone. Very exciting stuff.

On the car side of things; I worked a collector car auction with my old boss Mitch Silver, over the weekend. We'll be meeting up again in Southern California and Las Vegas. Check back in with us at the end of the month to see how we made out!

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.

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.

Wide Open Wyoming

This past Fourth of July weekend; I had the chance to help my old friend, Mitch Silver, at his annual Jackson Hole collector car auction. Mitch was the one who introduced me to the collector car business and helped to start my career as an auctioneer.

If you have never visited Jackson Hole, Wyoming; you should definitely put it on your bucket list. Where the twisting Snake River wraps around the Teton Mountain Range, there you will find and experience one of our country's most scenic areas.

For twenty six years, Mitch has held his annual Fourth of July sale at Teton Village. This year, the auction did not disappoint; delivering another excellent assortment of cars and western memorabilia.  We sold a wide variety of cars, with everything from a 1932 Oldsmobile to a 1966 Dodge Cornet Hemi. There were late-model classics and even a handful of vintage motorcycles

It was really great to return to the old stomping grounds and to reconnect with my old friends and to enjoy some of that Wyoming hospitality.

The Magic Moment

We all know when we're having a great conversation, either in-person or on the phone - everything is flowing and you're both engaged. But sometimes, there is a point that is reached - a magic moment.  A moment when the conversation should naturally come to an end, but doesn't? It keeps dragging on and on... By this point, it has become a one-sided conversation. So imagine instead of having this one-on-one conversation with somebody, now you're having it with an audience of two to three hundred people who would like it to end too.

This scenario can turn your fundraising auction from a place of excitement and laughter to a place where you can hear the audible groaning and shuffling of chairs and the buzzing of text messaging in the audience. It can be one of the most expensive mistakes your organization can make. Why? Because you and your inexperienced auctioneer have let the moment pass. The audience is no longer engaged with the speaker or the cause. Your guests and patrons have literally heard enough.

We all suffer from shortened attention spans today. So it is crucial to make sure everyone who is speaking on stage be scripted, the auction portion of the evening included.

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.