1/19/2013 7:00 AM
By Michelle Kunjappu Reporter
HARRISBURG, Pa. — For 33 years, the Pennsylania Auctioneers Association (PAA) has named a “best auctioneer in the state” who goes on to compete in a bid-calling contest at the national level, but for only the second time the organization brought together competitors from those 33 years to vie for the “champion of champions” title.
This year, the Jan. 10 contest, which drew 16 past bid-calling champions, was one of the highlights of the PAA’s 65th annual conference at the Sheraton Harrisburg Hershey.
Any of the previous bid-calling champions may compete during the event, which occurred during a break in the “fun auction,” an annual fundraiser for the PAA. The auction included almost 200 items donated from auctioneer members, PAA chapters or vendors that also attended the conference.
Event judges included the state director from each of the six PAA chapters, who looked at several factors, including clarity and articulation, salesmanship and attitude, professional appearance, ease of listening pleasure and overall impression of the auctioneer.
The auctioneers each brought along three items that they chose to sell for the competition, their one-time shot at impressing the judges. Jewelry, coins, model tractors, clocks, antiques, gift cards, or a membership to PAA were a few examples.
This year’s second runner-up was Sherman Hostetter, 1992 bid-calling champion, and first runner-up was H. Brent Souder, 2003 bid-calling champion.
Matt Hurley, of Hurley Auctions in Greencastle, Pa., came home with the bid-calling champion of champions’ trophy.
The 2004 bid-calling champion, Hurley apprenticed for two years and then became an auctioneer in 1993. He began his business, Hurley Auctions, in 1996, and has 7 full-time employees and 10-15 part-time employees.
Hurley owns an auction facility, however, his main business is real estate, as the business handles 100-150 real estate auctions in a year. Hurley is licensed as an auctioneer and real estate broker in Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Maryland and Virginia.
A former 4-H and FFA member who worked on a farm milking cows during his growing-up years, Hurley has a degree in agriculture from Penn State. He, his wife, Shannon, and their six children raise registered black Angus cattle on their 80-acre farm.
“I’m really big on getting additional training,” said Hurley, who has been to seminars in close to 20 states, learning about how to best use the latest technology to aid in the selling process, for example.
Online auctions, he said, are the way that auctions are trending. “We do a lot of online-only auctions for personal belongings and business liquidations, such as selling factory machines,” Hurley said.