Local auctioneer wins Tennessee state championship

photo Steve Holt runs an auction of construction and farm equipment in Soddy-Daisy. Holt recently won the Tennessee Auctioneers Association's bid-calling championship.

STEVEN W. HOLTHometown: Colorado Springs, Colo.Occupation: Auctioneer/co-owner of Compass Auctions and Real Estate on Cherokee Boulevard.Years in business: 25.Hobbies: Motorcycle riding, fishing.Family: Wife Paige is also an auctioneer; three children: Kali, Jace and Laci.People would be surprised to know: In normal conversation, I talk pretty slow. Most people are surprised to find out what I do for a living.

Steven Holt comes from a family of fast talkers.

He, his father and brother are all successful auctioneers, the younger Holts having brought home the title of Colorado State Champion Auctioneer three times.

Holt's talent for the talk, called chanting, recently won him top honors from the Tennessee Auctioneers Association. The North Chattanooga resident walked away with the title of 2012 Tennessee Bid-Calling Champion on his first try.

As the winner, Holt will represent Tennessee in the International Auctioneer Championship in Spokane, Wash., this July.

Van Massey of Fayetteville, Tenn., association president, said in a telephone interview that about 15 auctioneers from across the state competed for the title. They were judged on speed, style, clarity, stage presence, professionalism, product knowledge and the judges' willingness to hire that auctioneer.

"It's quite tough," said Massey. "I was fortunate to win in 2002. I competed several times before winning. It's very unusual to win on the first try. Steve Holt's a very good auctioneer, has very good stage presence and good command. He did an excellent job. Hats off to him."

Holt met his future wife, Paige, who grew up in the Sequatchie Valley, while both were living in Colorado. They moved back to the South to be near her family. Together they own Compass Auctions & Real Estate.

"This is not my hobby; it is what I am trained to do and have aspired to do in my life," said Holt. "I love our industry, and I strive to make it better every day. The auction method of marketing can really make a difference for people."

Q: How did you get started in the auction business?

A: My father started his auction company, Holt & Associates, in Colorado Springs, Colo., in 1976. I grew up in the business along with my two brothers. My father still works as an auctioneer along with my brother, Kevin, who runs our Colorado company. He is a past Colorado State Champion auctioneer, as I was. My second brother, Raymond, was killed in 2002, but he was also a Colorado State Champion Auctioneer as well as the 2001 World Automobile Auctioneer Champion.

Q: How did you learn to chant?

A: There are several schools around the country that teach auctioneering. They pack a lot of information in a short period of time. I feel you have to have some God-given talent to become a proficient bid caller in our industry. It can be challenging.

Q: What's the most unusual thing you've auctioned, and what was the final bid?

A: We did a bankruptcy auction of the National (Wood) Carvers Museum in Monument, Colo. There were all kinds of unbelievable carvings from all over the nation. I sold a wooden logging chain that was about 35 feet long that had been hand-carved out of one tree and looked like a real logging chain. It brought $3,800. I have had the opportunity to sell some really interesting items, from complete liquidations of drugstores and gun stores to matched pairs of 1963 Corvettes for $265,000 each to Steve McQueen's 1952 Harley-Davidson.

Q: Does your company specialize in a particular area, or do you auction anything that needs to be moved?

A: We have a full-service auction and real estate company at 901 Cherokee Blvd. We do four to five

specialty construction and farm equipment auctions each year across the state, two of which are held in Soddy-Daisy. We also do business liquidations, downsizing, Internet and real estate auctions. Our next real estate auction will be May 10 and will include two properties. One is a Mini Self-Storage Complex, and the second is 10 acres in Harrison with a pond and cabin.

Q: What does your job with Velocity Network involve?

A: I am one of the lead auctioneers for Mecum Muscle Cars, which is viewed on the Velocity Network around the world.

[Velocity is carried nationally across major video distributors, AT&T and Verizon fiber-optic system channels, and Dish and DirectTV satellite systems.]

We finished the world's largest collector and muscle-car auction that has ever been held this past January in Kissimmee, Fla. We offered 2,165 cars -- for a total of more than $60 million in cars sold.