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Helmut Schmidt, Published March 23 2012

Auctioneer wins two state contests

Frazee, Minn. - Austin Bachmann is a young voice in the auction industry, but he’s already sold a lot of people on his talent.

Bachmann, 24, has won both the 2012 North Dakota and Minnesota auction championships, capturing both within a week of each other in January.

He’s the youngest ever to be named a Minnesota State Auctioneers Association Champion Auctioneer.

And he and his father, Vincent Bachmann, are the only father/son duo to earn the title, the association’s Executive Vice President Frank Imholte said.

Bachmann grew up around auctions, starting by doing errands and odd jobs at age 7, as his parents, Jane and Vincent, grew their business, Bachmann Auctioneers.

He first tried his own chant in front of a crowd at age 12. He describes the experience – selling household goods at a church fundraiser – as a bit like getting thrown off the end of a dock to learn how to swim: scary, but it worked.

He said his father looked at him and said, “Finish the trailer,” and then he walked off.

“He put me on the spot. And I did it. It was the hardest thing I ever did, but it was the best thing ever for me,” Bachmann said. “I couldn’t remember numbers. I was just sweating. After that, I started getting more involved.”

At age 16, Bachmann attended the World Wide College of Auctioneering. He’s been a licensed auctioneer since he was 18.

Calling an auction is now second nature to him, though like a singer, he’ll do exercises to improve his delivery. This includes tongue-twisters, practicing “filler words” used between the price quotes and speaking similar letters and syllables in succession.

“It starts to come where it’s more of a habit and a reaction than anything,” Bachmann said. “The more you practice and the more you do it, the more the chant rolls off your lips. … When you get good at it, the more it starts to sound like a song than anything.”

He’ll make his bid for a bigger title at the International Auctioneers Conference and Show in July in Spokane, Wash.

The competition is similar to the Minnesota event, with rounds of selling, interviews and more selling. He’ll be judged on poise and presentation (how he scans the crowd, smiles, uses his hands); the clarity of his chant (smooth, rhythmic and easily understood); and salesmanship.

Vincent Bachmann won the Minnesota championship in 1997, and the North Dakota title in 2010.

“It’s a father’s dream to have one of your children involved with your business,” Vincent Bachmann said.

Austin’s older brother, Andrew, also works for the auction company as a bid caller, as does his grandfather, Clair Bachmann, who helps with set-up and as a ringman.

“He (Austin) is very good with people. He’s worked hard at it,” Vincent Bachmann said. “In this type of business, you better enjoy working with people or get out of it.”

He’s confident Austin will do well in Spokane.

“He’s got it down pat on what he needs to do. If he has a good run, he’ll do just fine,” Vincent said.

Readers can reach Forum reporter Helmut Schmidt at (701) 241-5583