This past weekend’s auction for the Mari Hulman George Estate, and the Hulman & Co assets was one for the ages. To borrow from auctioneer and friend Zack Burgess, it was the “Greatest spectacle in auctioneering!”
Bob Brown, Shelly Dubick and their team worked for around 3 years with the family representative, Bill Metzger, consolidating and preparing inventory for sale. Much credit goes to them for working so diligently to prepare this historic and huge auction. Bob and Bill were our captains for this sale, and I can’t envision that this event would have even happened without them at the helm.
I must brag on the team members that participated in the auction preparation, as well as the three days of auction. One of the most common phrases I heard exchanged from team members to each other was “what can I help you with?” From the clerks to the cashiers, to the set-up team, to the numbers of people who jumped in to help (several of whom had NEVER participated in an auction), everyone gave their all, and we became a cohesive team in no time at all. Stacey (and her two boys…Chandler and Drew… who had never worked an auction before, but became our ‘go to’ clerks), Barb, Akira, Shelby, Ryan, Evan…(here I go making a list…sorry I’ve forgotten several) and many others were all TOP NOTCH in their level of customer service, detail and sweat (literally… it was a little warm in there).
Meals are a non-item for most team members on auction day; if you have time during the 10-hr day to choke down a hotdog or a Snickers bar and a bottle of water during the day, that’s just sustenance to keep you going. Making the trip from one end of the building to the other (it was nearly a ¼ mile long) to address a situation meant that we all walked many miles on concrete for several days in a row. Younger folks probably didn’t feel it, but by day three of the auction, we older guys were starting to get worn down. But each day, when the first hammer falls, adrenaline kicks in, and it’s time to “put the plow in the ground”, as we auctioneers say.
Angie was the glue that held many things together. As chief administrator, cashier, etc., she fields a TON of questions, handles many problems, and generally puts out a lot of fires. She stayed up for hours each night (even after being one of the first ones in the building each day), reconciling each day’s receipts, because she can’t go to sleep without knowing if we’ve balanced or not. That’s just one thing that most people don’t see or think about, and there’s plenty more. Final reconciliation on an auction of this magnitude will take several more days. Her heart is for doing things correctly, and I’m blessed to have her by my side.
And our auctioneers…wow. Most people won’t understand the fraternity that is the auctioneering profession, but when one auctioneer calls another and asks for help, the most common answer is, “when do you need me to be there?”, followed by “what do you need me to bring?” Not, “how much are you paying?” We had a dream team of experienced personal property and antiques auctioneers. Zack Burgess, Knightstown, and I, Carmel, were the auctioneers of record, but we also had Marc Huber of Greenfield, Andrew Wilson from New Harmony, Randy Hause and Mike Verloop from Indy, and Tom Lawson from North Vernon. Kerry Lenhart from Illinois also jumped on the block for a while. I am unable to add up the total number of years of experience for this team, but I can definitely say that there it is unlikely there will be another group of auctioneers of this caliber, with experience in this type of property, ever assembled again (at least in my lifetime). Great job guys, and thank you all.
To have the opportunity to conduct an auction for arguably one of Indiana’s most historic families is truly an honor and we do not take that lightly. These folks put their trust in us, and that motivates us to work hard (and that fact is true for every one of our consignors, big or small), but it takes extra effort to completely relocate our office to Terre Haute for a week, and hire competent staff to make sure that our customer service level is as good as it can be, while serving 768 registered bidders (which is well over 1000 in attendance), from AL, FL, IL, IN, LA, KY, MO, NV, OH, PA, SC, TN and UT.
Thank you, also, to the all bidders who attended, and were patient with the sound and technical difficulties (we lost internet in the entire building on Saturday about 4:15pm, and had to stop the sale; it was fixed later that day, so we could continue on Sunday). A significant concern about multi-day auctions is that each day the crowd will diminish. And while Friday was the largest crowd, as anticipated, we had a large, active-bidding crowd every day, even after the last minute decision to conclude on Sunday.
While it is a tremendous amount of work to conduct an auction of this size, it’s what we know how to do. Zack Burgess of Burgess Auctions brought a great team with him, and we all worked together like we’d done it for years. Zack is great promoter, and a very good auctioneer. I was pleased to work with him through the entire process.
There is still inventory to be sold out of the Clabber Girl warehouse, and Zack will be conducting an online-only auction for that material in the next 60 days or so. That’ll be the end of the Hulman and Co items.
There’s still some advertising and country store items there. We’ll be cross-promoting that sale, also. And Wickliff Auctioneers will be selling Mari’s southwest collection, featuring Indian pottery, as an online-only session, likely in August. Stay tuned for updates.
I know that I missed some acknowledgements here, and for that, I apologize. I just wanted to share some thoughts while they are still fresh. As for auctions of this nature, for historic Indiana families, with this volume of one-of-kind items, we may never see another one like it.