Jared Chambers holds two trophies he won using his auctioneering skills.
Jared Chambers is not averse to taking risks. He can also call an auction while driving a pickup. Two years ago, Chambers quit his private construction business, sold his heavy equipment and started auctioneering fulltime.
“The best way to practice calling an auction is behind a microphone,” Chambers says. “I sit in my office with the PA system set up, and you just run through number sequences, tongue twisters. I have a computer program called Virtual Auction—a friend of mine from Ames, David Whitaker, invented, builds and sells it.
“And also just driving down the road—I start rolling tongue twisters.
“But the best practice is auctions—whether it’s our own, or as a contract auctioneer for another company.”
Chambers called around 16 auctions in 2013, up significantly from the first year of his business—Chambers Auction & Appraisal Company. He has auctioneered in Iowa, Missouri, North Dakota, Indiana and Washington State.
“In just under two years, I’ve done quite a bit in the business. I learn something every day, and I enjoy every minute of it. It was a serious gamble. Family support was the main thing that got me through.”
But his finest moment so far came last weekend, at the Iowa Auctioneers Association annual convention, which was held in Ankeny at the Quartyard Marriot. Chambers won rookie of the year bid-caller. He had to sell two items in front of a panel of three judges from Ohio, Nebraska and Minnesota—all professional champion auctioneers. They judged him for his introduction, initial command, overall appearance, poise, voice control, clarity, speed, rhythm, voice expression, description of the articles he was selling, eye contact, body language, auctioneer accuracy and salesmanship.
He also won the ringmen’s competition, and will get to participate at the Iowa State Fair. They will introduce him as rookie of the year, before he rings center stage for the state fair championship.
Nothing was guaranteed when Chambers left the comfort of his previous job to become an entrepreneur in a different field. He learned the discipline and the rigor necessary to succeed during his days at Wayne Community High School, where he graduated in 1995. He was a lineman on the football team.
“I wish I could do that again,” Chambers says wistfully of blocking and tackling in the trenches. “I set a goal almost two years ago that I was going to win rookie of the year. And I did. It was what was instilled in me by coaches like Stan Rupe and Dave Daughton back in the day—set your goals, and good things will happen.
“I announce the home football games for Wayne. That’s the next best thing to being out there.”
Last fall was Chambers’ second year volunteering as PA announcer for the Falcons.
“I went to auctioneer school two years ago,” Chambers says. “It was a passion I’ve had for a long time. I just enjoyed going to machinery and heavy equipment auctions like the Ritchie Brothers and all the big equipment auctions.
“When I got in the business, and figured out you could do these contests, I had three years I could enter the rookie contest. My personal goal was to win rookie of the year within that time. Now I’m going on to the main event, and I’ll win that someday.”
Next year, Chambers will enter Iowa’s main event in bid calling. Later this year, he is entering Missouri’s main contest in Excelsior Springs.
Chambers also spent two days in Oklahoma in 2012 with world champion Ralph Wade, in one-on-one bid calling instruction.
Iowa is not a licensed state for auctioneering, so before he began his business, Chambers traveled to Indiana for a 10-day course. He also went to Professional Ringmen’s Institution training. And two years ago, he flew out to the International Auctioneer Championship at the national convention in Spokane, Wash.
In Spokane, Chambers spent one evening at a restaurant rubbing elbows with Spanky Assiter, the lead auctioneer for Barrett-Jackson Auction Company. Assister sells cars on television, and is a world-class, world-famous auctioneer—he once auctioned off a 1966 Shelby Cobra 427 Super Snake for 5.5 million dollars.
“He’s one of the greatest spokesmen for the industry,” Chambers says. “I sat with him for several hours. Spanky told me that if you don’t try it, you’re not going to know what’ll happen—just dive in and do it. Be the best in your area, be fair, be honest—the main principles of life. He gave me a lot of good advice.
“I appreciated him taking time out of his busy schedule to help a guy who was new to the industry. Me being a nobody out there, and a guy comes up who sells five million dollar automobiles and puts his arm around me and tells me, ‘This is what you’ve got to do.’”
Next January, Chambers is traveling to Scottsdale, Ariz.—he has backstage passes at a Barrett-Jackson auction.
In Washington State, Chambers sold items in front of 800 people. He would be lying if he said his nerves did not get to him at times.
“A lot of the old-time auctioneers preach that the day you are not nervous when you get up and sale, is the day you don’t need to be an auctioneer anymore. You need to be nervous every time you get out there.
“Whenever you’re in competition, it’s much more nerve-wracking, because the three judges are right there below you, looking at your every move, how you hold your mike, how you address the crowd, whether you’re smiling or not.
“I have nerves every time I auctioneer.”
Chambers believes he is at a disadvantage, however, because he cannot carry a tune.
“I’m a horrible singer. Horrible. And I wish I were better, because a lot of the good auctioneers can sing. They can carry a tune. I hear them sing—typically at an auctioneer’s convention, it’s 'The Auctioneer' by Leroy Van Dyke. They’ll be walking around the halls singing and they just sound great.”
Van Dyke’s song partially inspired Assiter to his career path:
“'The Auctioneer' song has a part where the boy’s fame spreads from shore to shore,” Assiter says in 'Texas Monthly.' “That was my goal. And three times in my life I’ve had the opportunity to sell on one coast one day and on the other coast the next day. I’ve also sold in 42 states and 8 foreign countries. I enjoy what I do. I live it. I breathe it.”
Chambers has the same passion as Assiter, and is equally ambitious. At the end of February, he will drive to Bloomington, Ind. for a week, to attend the Certified Auctioneers Institute, which involves a three-year commitment. By the end of it, he will have earned the title CAI after his name—the most elite and prestigious designation an auctioneer can achieve.
“A lot of them refer to it as getting your master’s degree,” Chambers says. “You have to be chosen to attend—they can deny you.”
The Certified Auctioneers Institute contacted all the references that Chambers listed, and talked with them for quite a while.
“My references called me and said, ‘what the [heck’s] going on?’ John Buttz was one of them. He was on the phone with CAI for over 20 minutes—they wanted to know everything about me.”
Chambers is so good he could sell a brand-new dollar bill for $2,100—which he did at last November’s fair board fundraiser. On March 1, Chambers’ company will call the CON-AG event, live onsite and live online. The next day, he will perform a public auction for the City of Corydon.
Chamber lives just outside of Corydon with his wife, Pam, and their five-month-old son, Jett.
“I was in a transition period, deciding what I was going to do to support my family, selling my construction business. I just took off going to auctioneer’s school—a first generation auctioneer not knowing a [darn] thing about it. My wife was behind me 110 percent.
“I told her Friday night in the Ankeny hotel, ‘I’m going to win it tomorrow.’ And I did.
“I’ve got titles behind my name in two short years—the BAS [Benefit Auctioneer Specialist] and GPPA [Graduate Personal Property Appraiser]. I’m very happy with what I’ve done and achieved and the contacts and friendships I’ve made all over the country and the world.”
Those interested in his services can visit his website at www.chambersauction.com, which was designed by local artist Grant Darrah.
Since Chambers is not busy enough, he is also branching out into real estate. Just before he won rookie of the year in Ankeny, he spent Tues. through Fri. finishing up real estate classes in Des Moines. He will be selling for DreamDirt Farm & Ranch, owned by Jason Smith and based in Mondamin. They will be holding an open house on Thurs., Feb. 13 at Chambers’ office north of Corydon, from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Jason Smith and David Whitaker will also be present.
“Jared Chambers was a person that naturally fit into our organization,” Smith says. “He’s detail oriented, he’s obsessed with customer service, he’s incredibly talented, he’s a very hard worker and he’s an experienced businessman and salesman. From the beginning, we set out to build DreamDirt with the highest quality hands in the industry and we don’t hire often—when we do the person is the best of the best. Jared has already been instrumental in several big successes in the company and we look forward to the talent he brings to our team.”
DreamDirt partners with Whitetail Freaks televison, which is filmed in southern Iowa. In this way, clients get the opportunity for their property to be discovered by a wide range of viewers.
And Jared Chambers will continue to practice auctioneering, as he drives on to his next destination.