Joining me today for the fourth in the Auctioneer Interview Series is my friend Kurt Aumann, CAI, ATS. Kurt is an auctioneer for Aumann Auctions from Nokomis, Illinois, and is currently the Vice Chairman of the National Auctioneers Association Education Institute Trustees.
You’re listening to the AuctioneerTech Auction Podcast. Today is Wednesday 28 January 2009. Auctioneertech.com. Technology, auctions and auctioneers, auction tech for the auction industry.
AuctioneerTech: Hello and welcome to the fifteenth episode of the Auction Podcast from the AuctioneerTech. My name is Aaron Traffas and joining me today for the fourth if our ActioneerTech.com interview series is my friend Kurt Aumann, CAI, ATS. Kurt is an auctioneer for Aumann Auctions from Nokomis, Illinois, and is currently the Vice Chairman of the National Auctioneers Association Education Institute Trustees. Good evening, Kurt, and thank you for joining me.
Kurt Aumann: Well thanks for the invite and I’ve been looking forward to this.
AT: We are trying something new this episode and we will try and do it in the future, but we are streaming this live, the recording anyway, from auctioneertech.com, so if you’re listening to this in the recorded version, know that if you pay attention to the website in the future you’ll be able to watch us recording these live. Back to the questioning, Kurt, tell us a little bit about yourself and how you came to be an auctioneer.
KA: Well I grew up in the business and went to auction school at the tender age of 12, so I have been in it my entire life. My dad started a business and it was, I would say a small local business – maybe county wide. And there were a lot of household and state auctions and so on and so forth. After I got out of school, I decided that maybe that universe just wasn’t quite big enough for me so we started focusing the business more on some niche markets. Things have grown since, so it’s been a good ride.
What is Aumann Auctions today and what kind of stuff specifically do you sell?
Well, we have a staff of about a half a dozen auctioneers and we’ve got 16 members of our support staff and we followed several niches, you know, throughout the company – throughout the evolution of the company. We have some things that we don’t sell anymore. Things we’re active in right now are the toy market, the petroliana market – the signs and the gas pumps, gas globes – we do a tremendous amount of business with antique tractors and actually do that world wide. Lately we’ve been getting into intellectual property, selling existing business as on going entities, and some commercial liquidations and of course real estate with the focus on farmland.
Aumann Auctions is one of many members of the MarkNet Alliance. You were involved, I believe, in the creation of that franchise. What is MarkNet Alliance and why did you build it?
Well, it’s legally a franchise, but frankly we operate more like a coop. kind of like the old farmers coop elevator, and it allows us to service national contracts, that we wouldn’t normally have a chance of service on an individual basis. That really creates a distribution network that we can use and it’s allowed many of us to really book some business and do some business that we wouldn’t normally have gotten a chance to do. It’s a best practices group. We share ideas and our resources and a lot of partnerships on different deals form. It’s a little hard to describe in just a few minutes, but it’s been a fantastic experience and we’ve got a really, really great group of guys that are in it and I really look forward anything that I do with MarkNet.
I was teaching the ATS course this last November in Baltimore and we were demonstrating different website technologies when incidentally went to your website and was demonstrating that, among others, when I discovered your Streamline Bid system. What is that and what does that do for you that other existing products do not?
Well, it’s actually it’s an online bidding system like many of them that are out there. The only difference is that it’s integrated into a piece of backend software. So it’s also integrated in the project management and task list and managerial over sight. It’s a piece of a much larger piece of software that serves a function of live capturing and conducting oline auctions.
We delayed the recording of this episode by a few days because you had this big auction that you mentioned earlier a couple of days ago that you’ve been working on for a while. Tell me a little bit about the propriety and kind of how you handled the event and how it went.
Well, actually I have to give MarkNet a part of the credit for this deal because it certainly helped us win the contract, at least that’s what the sellers told us. It was a project of selling an estate and was 3900 acres, almost 4000, and it was all high quality, highly productive farmland, over 99% tilable, and it was over 1600 acres that was contiguous which is very unusual in our part of the world. I know you get out in your country, Aaron, out in Kansas it’s not so unusual, but whenever the farms back here – there’s a lot of farms broken up in forties, eighties and in 160s, so to get 1600 acres contiguous is a pretty big feat. We broke the farm up into 43 different tracks and offered it in a multi-parcel method. The auction took just a little over 6 hours and it brought 24 million dollars. So it was a great day.
I assume you had some help from your MarkNet partners in the actual conducting of that auction – or was it handled exclusively with Aumann Auction staff?
Well, we had all of our staff there, but there were also a lot of MarkNet members that came in and worked the floor. I’ve gotta tell you that I had the likes of Troy Crowe and Bryce Hansen and Brian Beckort and J.J. Dower and Chris Pracht, Joe Burns. I had a team on the floor. As you know on the multiparcel method sale, those floor guys are the ones that make the money, and explain the process and the bidding methods to those bidders and it was a sight to see. It really was, ’cause I mean those guys were just all all-stars and it came off very smoothly. I gotta tell you, and it’s not just because I did the project, but I don’t think we left a dime on the table.
Wow. That was actually the term I was gonna use in describing that crew of auctioneer you just named was all-stars. It sounds like a great team that anybody would be pretty lucky to have on site at an event. I think I’ve mentioned it before, but I don’t know for certain that I’ve covered it or that I’ve discussed it a whole lot with any of my guests up to this point. Would you, if you wouldn’t mind, briefly kind of describe what the multipar auction method is, how it works and what kind of software, if any, you used for this event?
The method is actually, in my opinion, the absolute fairest way to sell a piece of real estate because it allows the small tract buyer to bid at the same time with a large tract buyer by allowing the auction to proceed by the cumulative total, not by the individual track price. So in other words, three small tract buyers, the total of the bids for three small tract buyers, as long as they exceed the bid of the large tract buyer, then that’s how the propriety sells. So it gives the bidder the freedom to put together any combination of tracts he wants to put together. So it sounds a little confusing when you see it. I always tell people that the best way to understand it is to just place a bid. You start to understand the process really quickly then.
So did your propriety sell – how many buyers were winners on your propriety and was it broken up or was is pretty big chunks that were bought and how long did the auction take?
Auction took six hours and we actually had 10 buyers, although one of the buyers was a consortium of farmers that elected to bid collectively. So that was the largest bid up on the board which was around $15.5 million and that was about 2,400 acres and 2,400 acres ended up being divided, I think, 16 times, maybe, something like that. So there were 16 people in that consortium.
What technology tools did you use during the sale and in a normal course of multi-par?
Of course we used a piece of multipar software that we’ve modified a little and came off well. Probably the neatest thing we did that we got the most comments on was we really made it a multimedia event; we had a lot of screens. We had video coverage throughout the room and of course we had alternate screens between different bid boards so people can get any kind of information they wanted at any time. It really came off well; it looked like a multiplex theater.
Well certainly congratulations on it, I heard nothing but good things both from you and from other people around you that I’ve talked to since you conducted the event. It sounds like it was done very well and very professionally. You are based there in Nokomis Illinois, a bustling metropolis of a couple thousand people.
Actually downtown Nokomis
Downtown Nokomis. Little smoggier down there than it is elsewhere?
That’s right, that’s right. I mean I just wanted to draw that distinction.
Well, there were you are, about an hour and a half I think northeast of Saint Louis, as an auctioneer of some more specialty kinds of items – you mentioned the petroliana and the toy market and the antique tractor market – what are some ways you’ve overcome the problems posed by geography using technology or other means?
The remainder of this episode will soon be posted.