Back to school

Finweek English Edition - - Focus On -

AS­PIR­ING AUC­TION­EERS can ac­tu­ally “go to school” and learn the ins and outs of the auc­tion trade. Hed­ley Har­ris is a well-known auc­tion­eer and a trainer at the South African Col­lege of Auc­tion­eers, which has sent 8 000 stu­dents into the world of auctioneering, with diplo­mas en­dorsed by the Na­tional Auc­tion­eers’ As­so­ci­a­tion in the United States.

Grad­u­ates in­clude for­mer Spring­bok rugby player Rob­bie Fleck, beauty queen and TV pre­sen­ter Michelle McLean, en­ter­tainer Paul Buckby and mu­si­cian Thys “Bosveld­k­long” Stre­icher.

Har­ris be­came an auc­tion­eer at the age of 45 af­ter a long ca­reer as a farmer in the Ja­cob­s­dal area near Kim­ber­ley. He did his train­ing in the US and says Amer­i­cans rank as the world’s best auc­tion­eers. He’s mo­ti­vated by tap­ping into as­pir­ing auc­tion­eers when they’re young and adding some­thing of value to their in­fant ca­reers.

The week­long cour­ses of­fered by the col­lege in­clude ethics, ad­min­is­tra­tion, ad­ver­tis­ing and mar­ket­ing, cashier­ing, spe­cial­ties – such as prop­erty, live­stock and an­tiques – and all the other ins and outs of the in­dus­try, from the ideal num­ber of sheep that should be held in an auc­tion pen to how the Baby­lo­ni­ans used to hold their auc­tions.

About that mes­meris­ing and inim­itable auc­tion­eer’s chant, Har­ris says an auc­tion­eer ideally doesn’t want his chant­ing to be so good that peo­ple for­get about the sale and sim­ply en­thralled by the per­for­mance. “It can be hyp­notic – but the aim is to keep buy­ers in­ter­ested with the ul­ti­mate goal of be­ing able to make the SOLD call. It’s the sound that has to sell.”

As one of SA’s most prom­i­nent fig­ures in auctioneering Har­ris is a strong ad­vo­cate of es­tab­lish­ing a reg­u­la­tory au­thor­ity to over­see the and its play­ers. “Such a body would lay down rules and reg­u­la­tions and make the in­dus­try far more pro­fes­sional all round, earn­ing the re­spect of the pub­lic.”

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