We’ve all seen and heard auctioneers at work: they’re those fast-talkers who deal goods to the highest bidder. Just about anything can be auctioned off: from services, to art, to equipment, to – you guessed it – livestock.
You can see the top auctioneers at the International Livestock Auctioneer Championship Saturday, July 16 at 11:30 a.m. in the Agrium Western Event Centre.
But how does one get into auctioneering? For last year’s Calgary Stampede International Livestock Auctioneer Rookie of the Year Ryan Konynenbelt, he’s wanted to do it since he was a kid.
He was just 15 years old and doing a church fundraising sale when the Picture Butte Auction Mart, near his hometown of Nobleford, called and gave him a job selling chickens and rabbits on Saturdays. From there, it only grew. Konynenbelt was soon selling sheep, goats, horses, cattle, and doing the odd fundraiser while he was at it.
Konynenbelt isn’t quite the typical case of an auctioneer realized. Many of his peers have been in the business for 20, 30 years – longer than he’s been alive.
But when you’re good, you’re good. In 2015, with 18 years of age and with three years of experience under his belt, Konynenbelt placed third in the Stampede competition.
He’s back again this year – another year older, and another year wiser.
Auctioneering is much more than fast-talking: there’s a certain amount of pressure that comes with it, too. As Konynenbelt succinctly put it, “You’re selling livelihoods.”
“You wanna do the best you can,” he said. “You’re working for the producer. It’s not the easiest job in the world, but it’s worth doing.”
Because it’s such an important job, Konynenbelt has to be at the top of his game. He has to know exactly the value of what he’s selling in order to make sure he can get a fair price for it.
“Know your numbers inside and out. It’s gotta come naturally to you. You’re counting your way up,” Konynenbelt said. That, along with being as easy to understand as possible, is crucial to auctioneering.
Like every auctioneer, he has filler words to keep a rhythm going as he lists off numbers, which is where all that fast-talking comes in while he’s working to drive up the price. He starts off with a starting bid, and knowing the numbers, is able to get it up to what he wants.
Konynenbelt’s favourite part of auctioneering? Everything. He says the people in the industry, the atmosphere – all of it’s awesome, and he can sit there all day and just listen.
“The community is like a family,” he said. “You only see them a couple of times a year but you all have something in common.”
So, how does one get into auctioneering? Konynenbelt is self-taught. He’s been doing this from an early age, practicing as much as possible and working at a handful of auction marts. But even he went to school before nailing down jobs.
“Go to school,” is Konynenbelt’s advice to any aspiring auctioneers. “Visit auctions, and just practice. You can practice anywhere.”
At home, on the road, when you’re driving – anywhere is fair game to find your voice.