What is this business for?
We do all kinds of auctions – business liquidations, estates, real estate, farm equipment, firearms and more. I (Randy) am also an evaluator. I can assess anything that is not real estate.
What was the impetus for opening this business?
We wanted to start a family business and help people wind up their businesses. We was at an auction and I said, “I can do it,” and Mary said, “Okay.” So I took a two week vacation and went to auction school. There is a lot that a person needs to know about estates, heirs, and lawyers to deal with, and you need to know the value of the items. I am a Certified Real Estate Specialist, licensed in Indiana and Illinois. It takes 120 hours of study to qualify for the bachelor’s degree plus a four-hour test at Indianapolis.
What’s the best thing about being located in Rensselaer?
Being located in Rensselaer allows us to attract clients from surrounding cities from Chicago to Lafayette. We have also held auctions in the Chicago and Lafayette areas.
What’s the biggest challenge?
The biggest challenge is getting quality, reliable help available on auction days or helping pick up the items. Auctions are usually held on weekends and pickups are held on weekdays. It is difficult to find part-time workers.
What is your busiest time of year?
From early spring to late fall. We organize winter auctions at the fairgrounds or at the Rensselaer armory. Farm sales can also be done in winter.
What is the most popular thing you sell / the service you provide?
We have our FFL (Federal Firearms License) which allows us to do background checks on people who buy firearms. If you buy a gun at auction, I can do the background check before you take it. Or if you buy one in another state, I can do the background check. People send us weapons to sell or ask for specific weapons to buy.
What less popular item / service would you recommend?
We really don’t have any.
What is the thing that you enjoy doing the most in your business?
We love to meet new people. Every auction is different. Your next auction might be right there in the crowd. We auctioned trains and people came from all over for it. We also sold the building in which the trains had been installed, with the rails and the decorations.
What’s the best thing about owning your own business?
To rise to the top of our profession. We have been elected by Readers’ Choice as the first auctioneer in Jasper County three years in a row.
What’s the biggest downside?
The auction market is changing all the time. The little trinkets and knickknacks are out. Appliances and furniture are part of the game. People are interested in purchasing quality products. They will not buy garbage at any cost. We also accept mail order offers and telephone offers. People can view the items on our website and place a bid so that we get buyers from all over.
What’s the biggest misconception about your business?
The biggest misconception is that it is easy work and little work. There is a lot of work going on behind the scenes. It is a great responsibility to take people’s property and live up to their expectations. It’s our job, it’s what we do. Before an auction, there is advertising, taking pictures of the items and putting them online, setting up flyers, and then setting up the auction.
How would you describe your business philosophy?
Always be honest and fair.
When you retire, is there a family member who will take over for you?
How has your business evolved over time?
We started with a big auction in the spring and added a fall auction about nine or ten years ago. We will be having our spring consignment auction on May 4th of this year at the Jasper County Fairgrounds.
There is a lot more business happening on social media now than there was 17 years ago.
What advice would you give to someone considering starting a business?
Go ahead, do your research and if that’s what you want to do, then do it. Be prepared to put in the hours and work to make it happen.