A layoff during an economic downturn is no one’s idea of a good thing, but it led one Grantsville resident to discover an interest and talent he wouldn’t have found otherwise.
Mike Evans moved to Grantsville in 2007. One year later, the economy took a downturn and he was laid off from the job he thought would last forever. With a growing family to support, he turned to seasonal landscaping work to make ends meet.
One day he attended a turkey auction with his daughters, who were raising turkeys for FFA.
“I’d been to probably thousands of auctions in my life,” Evans said. “But when I went to this auction with them, I was sitting there looking at the auctioneer thinking … that looks like a lot of fun.”
Evans is a man of many skills. He grew up on a farm in Samaria, Idaho, then went to WyoTech trade school in Laramie, Wyoming, where he earned a degree in diesel technology and management. He has worked as a diesel mechanic, a diesel instructor, a custom farm worker, a trainer for Caterpillar and a lawn care professional.
He also worked at EG&G Defense Materials in Rush Valley, destroying mustard gas and mortars.
So when Evans discovered auctioneering, it didn’t take him long to pursue it. He researched what it would take for him to become an auctioneer. In March 2014, he enrolled at the Western College of Auctioneering in Billings, Montana. The 90-hour course lasted for 10 days, and at the end, he graduated with his auctioneering certificate. With that achievement completed, he tried to get work with some auctioneering companies.
“In most cases they already had their auctioneer and their team and they just didn’t have a need for another guy,” Evans said. “So, I decided, well, if I can’t join you, I’ll beat you. I’ll go do my thing. So I started my own business.”
Evans is now the licensed owner of Bar-Dot-Bar Auctions. As a contract auctioneer, Evans is available to run any kind of auction, from estate sales to livestock to charity causes.
“You can sell anything at auction,” he said.
One of his first auctions was for a family in Stansbury Park to raise money to buy a service dog for their young son with epilepsy. This small, personal auction, was possibly his favorite so far.
“I didn’t even know the people before they contacted me,” he said. “But I knew that money was going to a great cause to help in a tough situation. It felt good to help.”
Evans has been the auctioneer for the last three years at Tooele Valley Nursery, selling the remaining trees, flowers and bushes, and helping the business close out the season to start fresh the following year.
He also auctioneered at Country Fan Fest, where the audience got to bid on autographed guitars and other items.
“That was fun because the money went to help local charities, and at the same time, I was helping people in the crowd achieve their dream of owning a guitar signed by a major country music singer,” Evans said.
These are just a few examples of the good Evans has done with a gavel in hand and a microphone to his lips.
And yes, he talks fast, when a specific auction calls for it.
“If I’m doing an auction at a church, raising money for activities, I don’t want to be talking fast, like a cattle auctioneer,” he said. “You have to learn to read the crowd, scale it back, talk in a way that works for them.”
On the other hand, Evans said, livestock auctions call for fast-talking.
“If they’ve got 1,500 head of cattle to run through the sale in a couple of hours, they really need to move them fast,” he said. “The buyers are experienced, they’re there every week buying, and they know what that auctioneer’s saying.”
As an auctioneer, Evans is also skilled in the work of appraisal.
“No matter what, you have to know something about the value of what you’re selling, so you can get a fair price for it,” he said.
Bar-Dot-Bar Auctions is still a new business, and Evans is always working on expanding. By day he sells alarm systems and cameras for Peak Alarm Company in Salt Lake City, and in his extra time, he works on planning and offering seminars and consulting, especially in the area of benefit auctions and events.
He is also affiliated with AuctionTime, an online auction system where he can sell people’s equipment. He encourages anyone to give this system a try.
“The nice thing about an auction is you know exactly when it’s going to sell, and it goes right to the highest bidder,” Evans said. “No listing it high and waiting to be talked down.”
Evans is a strong believer in continuing his education. Every year he tries to attend conferences with the National Auctioneers Association. Last summer, Evans went to Columbus, Ohio, for a week to work toward his BAS (Benefit Auction Specialist) designation. And he hopes to attend the National Auctioneer Conference in Jacksonville, Florida, this year.
“I want to stay on top of it and learn all I can to be as beneficial in the industry as I can be,” he said.
Along with Evans’ formal training comes informal practice habits.
“I’ve sold telephone poles as I’m driving down the road,” he said with a laugh. “Or I’ll sell a car that just passed me.”
Often he’ll gain experience by practicing on non-humans.
“I’ve gone over to the neighbor’s and sold his cows, just wandering around the feed lot … “ he said, “‘and this one’s flicking her ear, so she’s bidding, and that one’s turning her head, so she’s saying she’s out.’ Just lots of practice anywhere, any time.”
Evans’ enthusiasm and humor go a long way in creating successful auctions. Bar-Dot-Bar Auctions is a valuable local resource for any business or individual trying to sell items or raise money for a cause.
“I believe in the auction method of selling,” he said. “I think it’s a great way to sell. … It’s fun to do, but if I can help somebody, well, that’s even better.”