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Published October 31, 2011, 12:00 AM

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Mitch Barthel

36

Barthel lives in New York Mills, Minn., and is owner-auctioneer for Perham (Minn.) Stockyards. Barthel grew up in New York Mills and graduated high school in 1993. He’s been a licensed, bonded auctioneer since age 16. He worked for his father, Jerry. Since the 1960s, the family had owned an auction in Wadena, Minn., but that burned in 1987, and they started in Perham in 1993.

Barthel says he wanted to be a professional auctioneer “since I was old enough to talk,” he says. He worked in sale barns starting at age 11 or 12. He bought the yards in 1993 and became sole owner in 2006.

Three requisites for an auctioneer:

n Knowledge of cattle and their worth.

n An outgoing personality.

n Love of the profession.

Barthel says his most memorable sale is yet to come. “Anytime that I get to sell, I love it. The selling part’s the good part,” he says. There are many other facets — bookkeeping and counting for the sole owner. (Mikkel Pates / Agweek)

  • Mitch Barthel<br /><br />36<br /><br />Barthel lives in New York Mills, Minn., and is owner-auctioneer for Perham (Minn.) Stockyards. Barthel grew up in New York Mills and graduated high school in 1993. He’s been a licensed, bonded auctioneer since age 16. He worked for his father, Jerry. Since the 1960s, the family had owned an auction in Wadena, Minn., but that burned in 1987, and they started in Perham in 1993.<br /><br />Barthel says he wanted to be a professional auctioneer “since I was old enough to talk,” he says. He worked in sale barns starting at age 11 or 12. He bought the yards in 1993 and became sole owner in 2006.<br /><br />Three requisites for an auctioneer:<br /><br />n Knowledge of cattle and their worth.<br /><br />n An outgoing personality.<br /><br />n Love of the profession. <br /><br />Barthel says his most memorable sale is yet to come. “Anytime that I get to sell, I love it. The selling part’s the good part,” he says. There are many other facets — bookkeeping and counting for the sole owner. (Mikkel Pates / Agweek)
  • Bill Cook<br /><br />33<br /><br />Manager-auctioneer, Billings (Mont.) Livestock Commission. Attended Montana State University at Billings, but joined a family ranch run by his grandfather, Pat Goggins. Cook started auctioneering at age 17 and knew he wanted to be an auctioneer “when I was a kid, when I was young.” His grandfather and two uncles were also auctioneers. <br /><br />Three requisites in a successful auctioneer:<br /><br />- Knowledge of what you’re selling, and who you’re selling to.<br /><br />- A good voice, so people can understand what you’re saying.<br /><br />- Credibility. “Grandpa was a real gentleman, and I try to be a gentleman,” Cook says. (Mikkel Pates / Agweek)
  • Andy Mrnak<br /><br />26<br /><br />Auctioneer for Miles City Livestock Commission and for Bowman (N.D.) Auction Market. Mrnak up in the Bowman area, on the Mrnak Hereford Ranch. He graduated in 2006 from Oklahoma State University, where he studied economics and agribusiness. He’s also a partner in Pifer’s Auction and Realty.<br /><br />“In my 20s, I feel very fortunate to be where I’m at,” he says. He is grateful to Jim Strain of Rapid City, S.D., a 1973 world champion, for encouraging him into the business, and to Harry Kerr of Bowman, for giving him a chance. Mrnak attended a nine-day auctioneering school, where he learned how to conduct an auction. “Everybody’s tongue is different, so you don’t teach that.”<br /><br />He says getting a job in a reputable sales barn was a highlight of his career.<br /><br />Three requisites for the auctioneer:<br /><br />- Knowledge of what is being sold, and the ability to recognize quality and value. That is not easy in the cattle business.<br /><br />- Practice.<br /><br />- People skills. (Mikkel Pates / Agweek)
  • Duane Rus<br /><br />49<br /><br />Auctioneer/part owner of Sioux Falls Regional Livestock, Worthing, S.D. Grew up in Corsica, S.D., and moved to Rock Valley, where he’s in a family farming and cattle business. Rus also conducts auctions with Tri-State Livestock of Sioux Center, Iowa. “When I was 8 or 9, all I wanted to do was for them to take me to the sale barn.” Rus started auctioneering professionally at age 2.<br /><br />Three requisites for a successful auction career:<br /><br />- Know livestock, know the market.<br /><br />- Know how to deal with producers and sellers. “You gotta keep two people happy on a single bunch of cattle,” he says.<br /><br />- Know the genetics of the cattle you’re working with — “what the mama cows look like, what the bulls look like.”<br /><br />Confidence is a major issue in successful auctioneering, Rus says. It’s the confidence you’re giving 110 percent. But even after 20 years in the business, he says he still gets “nerves: before each auction. (Mikkel Pates / Agweek)
  • Shane Wolff<br /><br />49<br /><br />An auctioneer for Farmers Livestock of Bismarck, N.D, Wolff grew up in Golden Valley, N.D., where his family ranched and auctioneered. After graduating from high school, he attended the Western College of Auctioneering in Billings, Mont., and started working in the business profession-<br /><br />ally at age 19. His father, Armon Wolff, was an auctioneer and continues in the business.<br /><br />Three requisites for the auctioneer:<br /><br />- Honesty.<br /><br />- Integrity.<br /><br />- Professional follow-through.<br /><br />Wolff says one of his career highlights was a large real estate auction in October 2008 in Washburn, N.D. It involved large tracts of land and was a successful sale, Wolff says. (Mikkel Pates / Agweek)