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Tracy Frank, Published January 24 2014

­Answering the call: Auctioneer has won Minn., N.D. and S.D competitions

WYNDMERE, N.D. - John Kuchera says he’s not a public speaker and he isn’t very comfortable in front of a crowd, yet he’s drawn to auctioneering.The 41-year-old from Wyndmere says while some guys are naturally comfortable in front of people, he’s not one of them. But for Kuchera, it’s different when he’s bid calling.

“He’s a great people person, a super bid caller, he thinks fast on his feet, and he does an all-around great job,” said Bob Helbling of Helbling Auctioneers in Kindred, where Kuchera works.

Kuchera has been working as an auctioneer for the past 10 years. He had a tough time breaking into the business until Helbling gave him a chance, Kuchera said.

Yet his skill with auction chant and microphone is evidenced by his three state competition wins.

Kuchera recently was named 2014 Minnesota State Auctioneers Association Champion Auctioneer. Last year, he won the association competition in North Dakota and, in 2010, he was named the South Dakota champ.

Kuchera does business in all three states, so he is a part of all three state auctioneers associations. He says it feels good to win in all three states because all of the competitions have different dynamics. The Minnesota completion is more formal, and Kuchera says it’s run like the national competition.

“Minnesota is just loaded with auctioneers who are really leaders in the industry,” he said.

The competition involved auctioning three items he brought to sell and then going through an interview round before auctioning three items he learned about only a few minutes before he had to try and sell them.

Kuchera brought a fleece blanket, a tabletop wine holder and a Western print. His mystery items were a deer antler lamp, an emergency roadside car kit and a retractable tow strap.

Kuchera now will represent Minnesota at the 65th Annual International Auctioneers Conference and Show in July in Louisville, Ky.

He says he likes the excitement of an auction and the great people he gets to work with.

“It’s exciting when you get willing bidders in a room with a competitive atmosphere,” he said.

But he says the competitive nature of auctioneering can also be a challenge.

“It’s very competitive, the auction business, especially in this part of the world,” he said.

Kuchera also does a lot of work as a contract auctioneer, and he travels to the Philippines to sell construction equipment.

He lives on a farm where he has livestock, but says it’s “halfway between a hobby and headache.”

He worked on the family farm before becoming an auctioneer.

Readers can reach Forum reporter Tracy Frank at (701) 241-5526