The brick streets on the square still supported traffic the same way
they once did horses. The town water tower managed to look even older
than it used to, as if it had finally begun to feel the full weight of
standing against Kansas elements for decades. It’s hard to blame the
fatigue that comes with such effort.
Tucked inside this small, rural community, however, is a semblance of
that stalwart effort as an auction business grows as a result of
personal investment. You see it in one of the large north-facing windows
across from the courthouse. The glass is plastered with one-sheet
fliers showing area properties for sale by auction.
This marketing mural of sorts is the first hint of the high level of
hustle NAA member Andy Conser, CAI, has been moving with for more than
16 years. Now working as the auction arm of United Country Heart of
America Real Estate & Auction, Conser is a testament to believing
that personal investment and networking are far greater than believing a
project is too big for his small business.
“I feel very confident that between my state association connections and
my CAI connections, that there will not be an auction come along in
front of me that I can’t reach out and find somebody,” Conser said. “For
me, being a small guy, the biggest fear I used to have was if somebody
would walk through the door with something I had no idea they were
talking about in terms of selling; that I wouldn’t know what it was, or
what it was worth, or where to go to get the information, and I’d sit
there and look dumb.”
In business for 16 years before attending the Certified Auctioneer
Institute, Conser understood what attending could or would mean for him
in terms of education and networking, but as a small-business someone,
money was an issue.
“More than anything, it was cost,” Conser said. “I was trying to make a
full-time living in sales in a county of 18,000 people, where the
biggest town is 1,200. That’s not easy. I also had what I realize now
was a misinterpretation of what NAA was – that NAA was for the big boys.
“But, I said if I’m going to take my business to the next level, then I have to make this work.”
Scholarships available through the National Auctioneers Foundation
At that point, Conser was made aware of the Larry McCool scholarship
made available through the National Auctioneers Foundation. The McCool
Scholarship was established in 2006 and provides tuition assistance to
qualified Auctioneers to attend CAI Course I or Course II.
Potential scholarship applicants are judged on the completeness and
quality of their application and their references. Preference is given
to individuals who earn 100 percent of their income from the auction
industry and/or who work full-time in the industry.
Conser applied, and he was awarded the monetary support. Later, he was
shocked to learn that only two people had applied – him and one other
“It’s flabbergasting to me,” said Conser, who had assumed many more
would apply. “Totally blew my mind. I asked ‘Why? Why don’t more people
Conser said he had saved enough money at that point (just prior to
winning the scholarship) to cover one year of tuition, which immediately
was saved for his second year of CAI. The added security of knowing his
first year was largely paid in full also provided the benefit of being
able to relax and concentrate fully on his CAI experience versus
worrying about not booking auctions at home during his week away.
All of it set the wheels in motion for him to earn his CAI a few years
later – armed and ready to provide Jefferson County and surrounding
areas with the same level of NAA knowledge and networking pathways
offered by others in much larger environments.
“It’s made me bigger,” Conser said. “I have no more staff than I did
before I went to Bloomington. I have none of that, but I have knowledge
and connections. That’s power.”
The mural of listings on his window looking into the street help
illustrate Conser’s point. Those listings (and eventual closings) don’t
happen by accident, of course. Each one of them Conser had to pitch to a
seller that auction was the method of sale to use. He also has had to
be able to deliver successful closings because without those, others
wouldn’t see the value in using his services.
Being able to handle the business side of auction is a result, Conser
said, of having a business plan in place – an exercise he learned at
CAI. Everything he does now revolves around the plan, from stellar
service, to standout proposals, to personal customer service, to
conducting the actual auction. He learned most, if not all, of how he
does things now through NAA continuing education. He began the journey
with a decision to improve and finding the courage to apply for a
“The time and the money is a factor,” Conser said. “But, what is it
worth to you long-term? What difference is it to you long-term?”