Meet Megan McCurdy.
“Here we go ladies and gentlemen! What do you want to give?”
The 29-year old auctioneer conducts a recent charity auction at Wichita’s Botanica Gardens.
Megan will compete Friday in the 2012 International Auctioneer Championship in Spokane, Washington. It’s not her first time though, she was named first runner up in the final round of vigorous competition last year.
“Well, it’s intense. I will say that,” says McCurdy.
“Early in the morning about 6:45 all of the contestants meet together, they have roll call, check in and they kind of explain the day and the procedures and how it’s going to run kinda that’s where your nerves kinda kick in cause you see all your competition and you see everybody that’s a little bit jittery and obviously they know what the day holds for them.”
The women will sell three items in the preliminary round, followed by the men - then wait for instructions in a secluded room.
“Where you cannot hear anybody, you cannot talk to anybody,” says McCurdy.
“You have kind of some auctioneer magazines and things like that if you want to review through just to kind of help get everything fresh in your mind but you can’t have your cell phone, anything, you are secluded and they bring you out one at a time in order and they interview you on stage. And I will tell you probably being interviewed on stage in front a room full of auctioneers about the auction industry, is probably one of the most nerve racking things you can do.”
Megan says some of the most respected auctioneers in the nation come to the competition. Men and women who have been in the auction business for decades.
“We all have our fingers crossed that this is her year,” says Lonny McCurdy, long-time auctioneer, Megan’s dad and owner of McCurdy Auctions in Wichita for 30 years.
He says competitors come from all over the world, South Africa, Canada, and Australia.
“It is a large deal. There’s approximately, I’ll say nine judges and these judges grade them on everything from their chant of course, which is very important but also their ability to think, their presentation, their appearance, their clarity,” says Lonny McCurdy.
“All of the factors that go in to make a successful auctioneer that anyone, of them or anyone, perhaps you, would even like to hire. You want somebody that is professional and that’s all graded.”
Megan’s been around her family’s auction business all her life. It’s always been as she calls it, “in her ears”.
She says her mother did the accounting work and she and her two brothers assisted wherever needed.
“As soon as we were old enough, we would shag tickets at the auctions we would help box on the weekends, we would help set up on the weekends,” says McCurdy, “and basically anything that we could do to earn our keep, that was our job”.
“They started 6 or 7 years old we called it shagging tickets,” says Lonny McCurdy.
“That’s back when we used—everything is computerized today—but in the old days we used to hand clerk our sales and we had to have a courier between our clerk and the motor home.”
Megan eventually worked personal property auctions and assisted in the office throughout her schooling.
“For most females that’s not their dream job, it’s not what you ever think of as you are a little girl, ‘I’m going to be an auctioneer’,” she says, “but after about a year of having my real estate license is when I decided that I wanted to go to auction school”
She graduated from Indiana’s Reppert School of Auctioneering in 2006. Instructors taught various aspects of the business including real estate, residential, livestock and antique auctions.
McCurdy says they also took students to live auctions to do a bit of selling.
“I would say for me, that’s probably more where I got my confidence and being able to do it in front of people that I didn’t know. In Wichita, most people that came to our auctions had seen dad or been around dad and I think I had a little bit of fear of the expectations for me to be automatically good and so I learned a lot there.”
And she put that knowledge to good use.
For the past four years, Megan has received the Master’s Club Award from the Wichita Association of Realtors with at least $5 million in real estate sales.
She’s no stranger to competition, winning several awards including the 2010 Kansas State Champion Auctioneer.
She says early on, a new male competitor was a bit skeptical of her abilities, not realizing she was an experienced auctioneer.
“There was one that I do remember one year said, ‘we’ll good luck to you and if it doesn’t work out come back next year.‘“
“And then, I happen to make the final round and he happen to not make the final round and I asked him to come back the next year! But it’s fun and it was just teasing and he took it as a joke too but, it’s a fun business.”
Ona sunny afternoon in Andover, Megan auctions off four duplexes.
Buyer Jeff Strain has attended several of McCurdy’s auctions for nearly 12 years.
“She’s just as good as any, any guy out there,” says Strain.
“I think she’s great. I look forward to buying a lot more houses from her. I think she gets the houses going she gets the bids up she’s real clear and understanding, She’s real helpful.”
Megan says she very conscious of her bid calling.
“I still speak fast but every word in there is a word and most of the time it’s very clear to the public and just certain you know mannerisms and things about you know your rhythm and everything that is appealing or not appealing,” she says.
“Especially being a woman. A women’s voice is a little bit different to listen to for four hours straight than a man’s so that’s been, you know just watching yourself in pitch and technique has been important to me.”
And it’s important to the judges in Spokane, Washington as well.
As Megan prepares to compete Friday. She remembers last year’s competition which lasted 12 hours.
While contestants await results, there’s a nod to past winners.
“It’s really really neat they have a parade of champions so everybody that’s ever won this competition before that is there, in the date order that they won it, will go through and sell an item and it’s really neat to hear all the champions from the past and those could be the people that you’re getting ready to join.”
And—- if Megan is able to join the winner’s circle, she says she will serve as ambassador to the auctioneers association for the next year and sell at the St. Jude’s Charity auction.
“I love this business, I love our industry and so to be able to take a year, and truly give back and truly serve the association, it would just be a great year, I mean, I can’t imagine how much fun I would have getting to travel and go to different state associations and whatever it may be. I would just be really excited to get to serve the industry.”
Watch Megan at the competition here.