Back to school
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.”