Why NAA IJAC is so important now and for the future of auction
The International Junior Auctioneer Championship title has proven to hold big personal and professional value for young aspiring auction professionals.
By NAA Staff
Each July, while most NAA Conference and Show attendees turn their attention toward education, evening events, and the International Auctioneer Championship, there is a smaller but extremely important competition taking place.
For ages 12-18, the junior version of IAC, or IJAC, provides a platform for young, aspiring auction professionals to hone their skills and receive professional feedback from judges while competing in front of a live audience.
“The IJAC benefitted me professionally more than I could have ever imagined,” said 2007 champion Trev Moravec. “The contest put me in a spotlight and in front of an audience that I would’ve never been able to reach.
“In result of the IJAC, I was invited out to an auction in Atlanta, Georgia, being conducted by Ritchie Brothers Auctioneers,” Moravec continued. “A few months later, I was hired as a full-time Auctioneer; right place, right time. Nine years later, I’m still working for them and enjoying every bit of it. This was absolutely a direct result of the IJAC.”
That kind of experience can happen regardless of whether someone is a first-generation auction professional or multi-gen.
“As a first-generation Auctioneer, the road to achieving this dream of mine wasn’t easy,” said 2010 Champion Nolan Richard Bell. “If it hadn’t been for one mentor who believed in me enough to invest in my future, I would not have been able to compete.
“The experience I gained and connections I made influenced the course of my career and ability to succeed within the industry. Competing in the IJAC is such an impactful experience that I hope no young person will ever let the cost or any other obstacle stand in their way.”
Some of those obstacles might take the form of self-doubt or a level of stage fright. IJAC presents the chance for someone to work through those and become stronger Auctioneers.
“[IJAC] caused me to put myself out of my comfort zone,” said Julia Sparks, BAS, 2012 champion. “Throughout my years of competing, I learned how to gain control of my nerves and enhance my stage presence. By sharpening my professional tools, I was able to gain more contract work and clientele.”
2016 Champion Brooke Gillespie also saw the contest as a way to overcome her hesitations.
“I first competed in the IJAC when I was just 14 years old and 5 months, [and] out of auction school. I had no idea what I was getting myself into, and actually hesitated to even compete,” Gillespie said. “I was always hesitant to get up in front of big crowds, compete in a male-dominant industry, and ultimately, I was afraid to fail.
“When I attended my very first NAA Conference and Show in Louisville, Kentucky, I was welcomed with open arms by my new auction family. Competing in the IJAC gave me confidence, a drive to succeed, job opportunities, and introduced me to some of my best friends.”
In terms of the future, IJAC can also help unearth hidden passions someone may have for the auction industry at large, said 2013 Champion Halie Behr, BAS.
“I was always a die-hard basketball player, and it was my passion to play the game. Once the game ended for me, I lost that love and that fire to compete,” she said. IJAC, however, brought it all back.
“That extra push aided me in becoming a champion once more and with it brought forth something far greater – my desire, passion, and respect for a truly prestigious and unparalleled industry,” Behr said.
2011 Champion Curtis Wetovick has seen his title help propel his business in an ultra-competitive market.
“The agricultural auction industry in central Nebraska is one that is tough to break into, but I know that my first-place finish has helped me to get the leads I have gotten tremendously,” he said. “I plan to continue to work hard to develop my reputation as a professional Auctioneer, compete as much as possible, and remain open to any auctioneering opportunities that may come my way.”
Of course, IJAC gives younger auction professionals a chance to grow and develop their own personal networking relationships – just like their parents, families, and older friends are doing during Conference and Show.
“When I attended my first Conference and Show, I knew absolutely no one,” said 2014 Champion Justin Croy. “But by competing in the IJAC, I made lifelong friends and contacts within the industry that I still hold close today. The IJAC taught me so much about the auction profession, but it taught me more about who I was and who I wanted to become both personally & professionally.”
To a person, all of the champions encouraged up-and-coming auction professionals to participate in the 2017 IJAC competition and beyond. That included 2015 Champion Jeremy Garber.
“The IJAC for me was one of the highlights of my short career so far,” Garber said. “The IJAC also helped jump start my contract auctioneering, by giving me the opportunity to showcase my talents to the business owners and auction friends.
“Not only that, but I’ve met some of my closest friends through IJAC! I would definitely encourage any young Auctioneer to strongly consider competing!
The 2017 IJAC competition will be held in Columbus, Ohio, during the NAA Conference and Show, July 11-15. For more information and to register, visit conferenceandshow.com/international-auctioneer-championship and fill out the IJAC online entry form.
(Special thanks to NAA member Julia Sparks for her work and contribution on this story.)