A Coeur d’Alene auctioneer became the first woman to win the Annual Northwest Auctioneers Association Championship on Oct. 3.
Rose Backs began her auctioneer career in 1997 and graduated third in her class from the Reppert School of Auctioneering in Indiana in 2003. She quickly became one of the top female auctioneers in the nation. Backs, whose focus is real estate auctions, talks about the art of the rapid-fire deal.
Q. How did you get into auctioneering?
A. I don’t know if a lot of people wake and say “you know, I think that when I grow up I want to be an auctioneer.” And I’m not any different. I didn’t do that. I met my husband, who was already an auctioneer at the time. As our business grew we were more and more in need of auctioneers, and me going to auction school was really more of a sense of need for our company than this strong desire for me to get up on the auction block. It just was the natural progression of our business. Then once I started doing it, I loved it.
Q. What did you have to do to become an auctioneer?
A. Well, the foundation really is auction school. It gets things going in the right direction. It teaches you the fundamentals. And from that you really have to work. You have to find someone who will let you come in and work with them, spot bids for them, and you just kind of fight for your time on the microphone.
Q. What makes a good auctioneer?
A. It depends on what you’re doing. We’ll talk about tonight because it’s a fundraiser event (a charity auction for Communities in Schools on Thursday). These folks are here to raise money and support a great cause, so the thing that makes you better … might just be your ability to connect with them and really create a passion for their cause. Every different facet of the industry strikes a different chord within the auctioneer chant. Each event requires you to be a little versatile.
Q. Is this a male-dominated field?
A. It really is male-dominated. I think it’s just the nature of the business. One of the biggest facets of the auction industry is the wholesale auto auction, and that industry is male-dominated. Then the auction industry that feeds that automobile industry is also male-dominated. But with that said, there is still lots of opportunity for women. Women are growing leaps and bounds … in the business. When I first got in the auction business it was a rarity for a woman to be in the business. Now I show up at conventions and at competitions and there are numerous women.
Q. How do you practice auctioneering?
A. We practice a ton. We do number drills and tongue twisters. As you drive down I-90 you see all the fence posts or the mile markers. I would sell them just as fast as I could keep up with them. … Just little stuff like that that helps us keep our mouth moving quickly and helps us stay limber.
Q. What’s the most expensive item someone has bought that you auctioned?
A. Well, we sell real estate. So if we remove the real estate … the most expensive thing I ever sold … I sold a puppy at a fundraiser auction for $25,000. That was pretty fantastic.