How I Got There
By: Brian Riddell
I think the first time I remember seeing an auction, I was around five or six years old when I went with my father. We lived on a farm and it was like a new world outside. I was young and didn’t understand most of it, but it still left a big impression on me. After that, I went to a lot of auctions since my dad just loved going to buy everything from livestock to the big pile lot left at the end of a sale.
Sometime went by and we moved off the farm and in to Burlington, Ontario . My dad was working at an auto auction and I went to work with him sometimes. The manager, Vinnie, gave me my first job when he asked if I would like to cut the law, pick up the garbage to keep busy, and make some cash. I thought “Okay, cool” and got started immediately. It was a big step for someone so young.
Before long I was lifting car hoods in the auction ring. This man name Jimmy Weldon said “Look here kid, you can help look for bids if you would like I’ll show you how it’s done.” Thanks to Jimmy I became a good ring man fast. One day while leaving the auction the owner, Bob, asked me something that was a major stepping stone in my life, “Would you like to go to Auctioneer school in December? If you would like to go, I’ll speak to your old man.”
So a deal was worked out between them and in December of 89 at 16 years old, off to Iowa I went .
The first day of auction school Col. Gordon E Tailor said to me “Your hair is to long. Y’all haft to get it cut if you liked to stay.” From that day forward I’ve keep the brush cut.
My first class was with a teacher name Keith Saathoff where I learned I ‘GOT’ does not belong in an auction chant. I must of said “I got” a 100 times or more, and every time he caught me with that old towel he had on his shoulder and he yelled “You got nothing its my bid!!! Go again!”
My first day back at the car auction, this auctioneer named Bob Calhoun looked at me and stated “Let’s see what you learned.” He handed me the microphone and stood behind me. They always say to hit the ground running and I was figuratively thrown at the ground and told to sprint a marathon. My heart was beating so fast and I couldn’t say anything. Bob quickly reassured me when he said “Don’t panic. I’m here to help you,” and I started auctioning.
He said “I knew it, you’re doing ok. Keep it going and don’t stop talking.” Before I knew it I was selling like an old pro thanks to Bob, who was my own auctioning Yoda.
Working at what is now CAG, I met this auctioneer name Pat McDonough he was telling me about this auctioneers competitions that was put on by the AAO. I thought it would be interesting to enter, so I got a hold of Gary Hill. He gave me all the details and I entered the competition. I had never seen an auctioneers competition, I thought I would watch what the other guys do and go from there. But, while picking for numbers I pulled #1 and there went my finely crafted plan.
I did my best but I didn’t make it past the first round. Instead I watched the rest of the competition while brooding a little. While driving home I thought “I won’t do that again,” like one does the morning after a rough night out. Well, apparently I didn’t listen to myself.
Over the next couple of years I met a lot of auctioneers but the one who taught me the chant I have now, was auctioneer name Mark Bulezuk.
As time changes things the car auction got bought out by Adesa. That’s when I met Don Rinehart. Don ask me if wound I would like to go work for him Wednesday nights. One night while working for Don, he asked me if I was a member of the AAO, I said I wasn’t and told him about my past experience with the competition. He laughed at me. Next he said one day I would win but I have to keep trying. The next week at Adesa, this younger auctioneer named Dave tells me his helping with the AAO competition and I should come out. I figured if it will help him out I would go.
The day of the competition we go draw numbers for the order and I drew #5 and broke my angst ridden self-proclamation after that first bad competition. Thank god, even with a lot of good auctioneers out, I managed to finish in the top 5, and didn’t need to swear myself off any more competitions.
Driving home that time, I was happily telling myself that wasn’t that bad I would go again next year.
The next year came fast but this time I decided to go to the conventions as well as the competition. The first day at the convention Gary Hill and Jim McCartney told me what happens at the convention and how the board works all year to help out all the members of the AAO. I said out loud that I would like to do that. Gary was quick to inform me that they were looking for new board members. Then I was pointed in the direction of Dave Jacob.
Talking to Dave I was not to sure what I was getting in to, but before I knew it Dave had said my name and Jim had seen it, and on to the board I went. I was little hesitant at the start but it turned out to be fun.
Back to the competition, this time I figured the 3rd time might do it. I pulled a number for a spot, all’s good- made it to the second round, not doing too bad. The final ranking comes along and I was anxious and excited at the same time. They call out 5th and 4th, neither me so I got more excited. They call out 3rd and 2nd. Neither me and with one final name left they announced NELLO ROMANEY???
Oh well maybe next year …
I figured I would enter one more time in Milton. If I just have fun and do what I usually do, it might work out for me. Day of competition I woke up, got ready to go, and bought a bacon sandwich -it was really good. While drawing for spots I looked around at that other competitors and saw that some of them were nervous, so I crack a couple of jokes to put them as eases. I told them something I learned from Col. Jack Hines at auction school, he said to me “You will never get rid of the butterfly’s, you can only teach them to fly in formation” and in that moment it hit me.
Come my turn I rallied my butterflies in formation and started to auction. When all was said and done, I stepped down from the auction block and went outside to wait. Before too long, Big Ed Shafer came and told me I made the 2nd round.
Back inside to draw number’s one more time, and I draw lucky #13 -everyone said it was bad luck drawing 13 but I think this is meant to be. Two of my children were born on the 13th and one of them just got married the week before, so to me it was a good sign. I got up to auction and it comes out of me like a musical machinegun and before I know it my turn was over. I thanked everyone and got down to wait to hear what the judges thought.
Out comes Dave with the results and I was nervous. He called out 2nd place -not me. He called out 3rd -not me. Maybe I’m 4th or 5th? Then I hear Dave say “Your winner, FROM HAMILTON ONT BRIAN RIDDELL!”
Oh…OH THAT’S ME! I WON! Wow, I won!!!
But now looking back on everything it isn’t all the stuff you get from winning something like this or even saying that I’m the champ, although the trophies are rather nice, it’s all the people you meet -like at that first auction I went to as a kid the auctioneer was Jim McCartney who was my first hero and inspiration to become an auctioneer. He also put on this path and over the last 23 years of being a full time auctioneer I have done ten of thousands of auctions of all kinds. But what I think I’m most grateful for, is the people I’ve met and learned from during this journey.
Thanks to all and hope to see you in Niagara next year..