Martin Dibowitz: a difficult man to pin down
MARTIN Dibowitz, MD and auctioneer of Aucor South, moves effortlessly between the wide range of cars, trucks, trailers and various pieces of equipment crammed into the fir m’s spacious premises in Epping 2. He stops at each item to auction them off, joking with the large crowd on occasion but mostly belting out numbers until each item is knocked down, about 160 of them on this day – and that’s their average when doing one of their weekly repossession and liquidation auctions in Cape Town. Throw in a weekly auction in PE and regular visits to headquarters in Joburg, and he becomes a difficult man to pin down.
It wasn’t planned this way. After completing his studies at the Univers i t y o f C a p e To w n , D i b o w i t z qualified as a CA but decided to look elsewhere for a career path. In 1996 he met up with Eddie Winterstein, one of the founders of Aucor, and within a matter of months found himself working on the auction floor in Joburg. By 1998 he had became a shareholder of Aucor Cape Town, and they opened the Port Elizabeth branch two years later.
Without any formal auctioneering training, he learnt on the job from Winterstein. Dibowitz describes his first auction: “It was a warehouse sale in 1997. The auctioneer conducting the auction stopped and handed the microphone to me, and told me to carry on.”
He hasn’t looked back, and now conducts eight auctions a month, flying between Port Elizabeth and Cape Town.
While vehicle auctions are a large part of their business, particularly today because of the high number of repossessions, they have always split their business into dedicated divisions, and also conduct a large number of property auctions, heavy equipment sales, marine, aviation and manufacturing sales. Owing to the size of their business they are able to have professionals handling the different divisions, people who have the know-how and ability to cater for the needs of both the buyer and seller in the different industries.
At the vehicle auction I attended I heard Dibowitz warning some buyers not to buy if they weren’t familiar with the auction process.
“It is often quite easy to pick up a first-time buyer at an auction. I always tell first-time buyers never to bid on their first auction. Rather watch what is going on and then come back to another auction. Buyers must do their homework before buying on auction; ensure they are familiar with the terms and conditions of that auction, as each auction house has different criteria for buyers. Make sure they have inspected the vehicle that they would like to buy, and have an understanding of the value of the vehicle, that is, trade or retail price. There are lots of websites where you can find estimated selling prices on vehicles. And the most important thing is to be happy with the vehicle they are buying.”
While he readily admits there are plenty of bargains to be found on the auction floor, particularly when it comes to vehicles, he does emphasise that repossession auctions are run on a voetstoots basis.
“We try to the best of our ability to ensure that we have checked the vehicles as thoroughly as possible. If we find problems on the vehicles, we announce the facts at the sale.”
Forewarned is forearmed, and there is plenty of time to check out vehicles before the auction.
Dibowitz has conducted many interesting auctions over the years, including many items from the Brett Kebble estate. He clearly enjoys his work and particularly enjoys interacting with the buyers on the auction floor. He always finds it interesting to see the types of buyers that attend the different auctions.
Aucor itself has been going for more than 40 years, since opening in 1968, and has branches all over the country. It has 12 full-time qualified auctioneers, with more than 150 years’ combined experience, and has a presence across souther n A f r i c a , i n c l u d i n g B o t sw a n a , Namibia and Lesotho. It is BEE compliant and has a global network of auctioneers with whom it has a professional working relationship, enabling it to operate worldwide.
Aucor’s weekly Vehicle Repo & Liquidation Auctions are held at its premises, Aucor Park, 17 Dacres Avenue, Epping 2, Cape Town, on Wednesdays. For more information, call 021 534 4446 or visit www.aucor.com.
MASTER AT WORK: Martin Dibowitz, MD and auctioneer of Aucor South, conducts eight auctions a month, flying between Cape Town and Port Elizabeth.