"Twenty thousand, twenty-five – now thirty thousand dollars!" As the bids kept climbing, the light in Leroy Yoder’s eyes kept getting brighter.
Eugene, my partner in Bright Star Realty and Auctions, had met with Leroy a few months ago when we first made plans for the auction of Leroy’s sawmill and pallet equipment. At the time, Leroy had misgivings about letting us sell the pallet nailer at auction without a reserve. Leroy had advertised his Woodpecker pallet nailer himself and had actually made a deal to sell it for $27,000 but the deal fell through. Leroy wanted to sell it- indeed, he needed to liquidate his whole operation – he was moving, but he told Eugene he couldn’t bear to think of his beloved Woodpecker selling for less than twenty thousand.
Eugene empathized with Leroy. Eugene grew up in a sawmill and has had his own liquidation auction – and he knows the feeling. He does however, also have years of experience in equipment auctions, and he explained to Leroy why we don’t recommend putting a reserve on anything. Leroy finally agreed to relinquish all reserves and let the buyers decide what the nailer was worth. Now our job began.
We are Bright Star Realty and Auctions. We specialize in sawmill, woodworking, and real estate auctions around the country. In the next issues, I hope to share with you some stories from sawmill and logging operations around the nation. This month, I would like to give you a brief introduction to our team and to what we do. Our team is blessed to include:
Eugene Hochstetler. Eugene is a thirty-six year old, lean, long-legged, long-strided, brown-haired, Amishman. Eugene is passionate about preaching the Word of Christ, raising his four boys along with his wife Susan, anything to do with timber and timber equipment- and huge walnut trees. He is extremely good at treating our clients with warmth, empathy, and professionalism and is a master communicator. He is good at playing volleyball – in sharp contrast to his skills on the basketball court – which are virtually non-existent. I enjoy reminding him of this occasionally. Eugene is the equipment specialist within our company.
Nathan Lehman. Nate is twenty-nine years old, dark-haired, and built like the proverbial brick house – though his recent dedication to intermittent fasting has made him a bit more aerodynamic and added a pair of galluses to his normal ensemble. Nate is passionate about singing and enjoys his position as one of the song leaders at church as well as spending time with his wife Lavera, and their daughter. Nate is passionate about becoming friends with his clients, and excels at coming alongside them and helping them achieve their goals through the sale of their property. He is also a bit prematurely bald, which occasionally sneaks into our conversations if I feel he is becoming a bit haughty about something he has accomplished. Nate is our local real estate specialist.
Eugene, Nathan, and I are the owners of the company. To serve our clients with the excellence we aspire to we need the assistance of:
Mel Bontrager: Mel’s knowledge and abilities in accounting, ringwork, auctioneering, and construction make him very handy and invaluable to our company. Mel loves John Deere tractors and has a snazzy collection going. Mel is in charge of our accounting for the company and for each auction. Mel’s wife Linda often accompanies us to equipment auctions and does a fine job of manning the office.
LJ White: LJ handles most of our long-distance driving with astounding endurance and a healthy dash of flair. If you join us at one of our equipment auctions, he will probably direct you where to park, slip you a piece of candy with a twinkle in his eye then bring you lunch at noon.
Jonathon Miller: Jonathon is an energetic twenty-something, our lead cataloger and setup man, and is fast becoming an expert in all types of equipment. You’ll be able to pick Jonathon out by his head of curly dark hair. Jonathon and his crew do superb work in researching details on large machines we are selling as well as cleaning up the smaller ones so buyers can get a good, and an accurate, picture of items they are buying.
Myron Schwartz: Myron joined our team after years of leadership in the RV industry. If you choose to consign equipment to an auction we have, you most often will deal with Myron and can rest assured he will do everything possible to maximize your return in an honest, upright fashion.
Darrin Bontrager: Darrin works full-time for our neighboring company, Showcase Equipment. We often borrow him to go along to auctions though – because he is so handy. He does a superb job with setting up and maintaining the phone and computer network we need at auctions, and he can work the office or the ring. The other benefit to taking Darrin along when we travel is that it gives him opportunities to watch for the girlfriend he has not located yet.
The rest of the team. While you are less likely to meet them at our equipment auctions, these individuals play a large role in the service we provide.
Cherie Borg: Cherie is the switchboard operator at the home office and takes care of many details- with aplomb.
Michelle Bontrager: Mel’s daughter and Darrin’s sister, Michelle designs our fliers, ads, and eblasts. If you begin a conversation with her about unmarried local lads, you are likely to see a bit of pink enter her cheeks.
Wayne Nisley: Wayne assists Mel with accounting and is beginning to take over some of my marketing duties.
Jesse Riegsecker: Jesse is a broker and an auctioneer who sells lots of real estate- some through auction and much via traditional listings.
Bronson Gangwer: Bronson is an auctioneer who handles many of our personal property auctions and takes point on our large equipment consignment auction at our home yard.
Dave McMillan: Dave is an extremely dependable local sign installer and does much of our local driving.
My name is Loren Beachy. I am thirty-three and married to Regina. We have two daughters. I grew up on a horse farm in Holmes County Ohio, then northern Indiana. In my life I have worked at a produce farm (Bullard’s), a construction gang (Advance), an RV factory (Jayco), and an Amish School (Singing Hills). It was teaching at Singing Hills that I spent the most time doing and enjoyed the most. I have very fond memories of the classroom.
I dreamed of auctioneering all my life and obtained my license at the age of eighteen. Auctioneering was a part time job and a full-time passion for a while. Fortunately, I was able to keep learning at it, attending educational auction seminars, and building up business while working at other jobs. It doesn’t seem like very long ago when I jumped into auctioneering full time. Soon after that I joined up with Eugene Hochstetler to form Bright Star.
I enjoy hot peppers, strong coffee, and thick books. I was recently ordained deacon in our church and with God’s help, enjoy fulfilling that calling to the best of my ability.
My role in our company is to coordinate the marketing of our client’s assets. This is a passion of ours and mine. We try to use every practical means of putting the equipment or real estate we are selling in front of people that want to buy it.
Print ads, fliers, trade publications, and mailers to our carefully built list of equipment buyers are all tools in our tool box. We also hire numerous specialists to run internet, facebook, Instagram, Craigslist, and other digital campaigns. We are regularly in communication with them to stay abreast of cutting-edge techniques to market assets. We also send out email blasts to our dynamic list of bidders that we keep adding to.
Our Bid Book has proven popular as well. We send out thousands of detailed catalogs with photos of every item and allow buyers to listen to the auction and bid via a conference line. The day prior to the auction we will often fax or email bidders an updated list- which also serves as a reminder.
The bottom line is that we want every possible buyer to be able to bid on items we are selling for you.
We marketed Leroy’s nailer via all our methods. It generated a nice amount of interest and phone calls. When the Woodpecker finally crossed the auction block at Leroy’s auction, there were numerous parties watching it online, numerous parties on the conference line ready to bid, and several strong players standing with us in Lewistown, Illinois in Leroy’s shop.
In the end, the winning bidder when the hammer dropped was a partnership from Texas who had driven all the way to the auction site with an empty trailer. The final bid was $45,000.
Leroy was ecstatic. And in our business, that’s what it is all about. Using honest, efficient and excellent methods to market equipment- and obtaining the best result possible to (hopefully) have a thrilled seller and happy buyers at the end of the auction.
In the months to come, I hope to share with you some stories about sawmills. How they came to be- and sometimes- how they came to disband.
Whether it is in Quarryville Pennsylvania, Sugarcreek Ohio, or Kalona Iowa, I hope we meet in person- and in the meantime, may you be blessed.