From businesses to bulldozers, anything can be sold at auction — and all with the trademark bang of a gavel.
Deb Weidenhamer and her Phoenix-based company, Auction Systems Auctioneers & Appraisers, brought the fast-paced world of auction houses to the small screen this fall on TLC’s “Auctioneer$.” The show premiered Oct. 9, and each episode followed about three pieces through the auction process. It showed why it was being sold, the actual auction and why the buyer wanted the piece.
Unfortunately, after four episodes “Auctioneer$” was put on hiatus, but Weidenhamer and her team are glad they were part of the program.
“It was certainly some great media for us,” she says, adding that the show allowed people to get a look at what auctions are all about, as well as leaving them entertained and informed.
Auction Systems already was expanding its business before “Auctioneer$,” but that growth has since accelerated and the company is looking to add four additional locations in the Southwest in 2011. As a result of the show, however, Weidenhamer says that auction attendance, and the number of individuals and companies looking to auction off items, has increased. Now, many corporations are calling Auction Systems looking to auction off surplus or discontinued items.
“Doing a television show is really something that teaches you a lot about corporate messaging,” she says, adding that her company had to “get succinct on what our message was.”
The company’s message was, and continues to be, you can live better by buying at auction, she says.
“Auctioneer$” also shared with viewers one important piece of information about the auction industry.
“It’s different every day,” Weidenhamer says. “You never know what’s going to show up to be sold. It’s always intriguing. The buyers and sellers all have very different motivations.”
Weidenhamer’s favorite auctioned item is an antique time recorder clock that appeared on the TLC show. During the boom of the Industrial Revolution, the four-foot time clock recorded up to 100 employees’ hours at a time.
“I think that’s just really fascinating because it’s such a piece of history. They’re very rare to find. It was just such a beautiful piece,” she says.
The auction industry’s ever-changing ways were what drew Weidenhamer to the business in the first place. In 1995, while on a flight from San Francisco to Phoenix she sat by an 80-year-old former auctioneer. He detailed the excitement and diversity of his career and Weidenhamer was sold. Within a month, she resigned from her job in the mergers-and-acquisitions field and enrolled in auction school. She’s been in the auction business for about 15 years.
In the seven months the TLC crews filmed “Auctioneer$,” Weidenhamer picked up a bit of the reality show way of life — she learned to ignore the cameras.
“You really get used to it,” she says. “They just kind of become a part of the background and you don’t even think about it anymore.”