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Inc. 5000 Update: Auction Systems Auctioneers & Appraisers
 

Auctioneering, not prostitution, is the oldest profession known to man.

Jason Grow

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Deborah Weidenhamer seemed destined for a career in finance until a chance conversation led her to become an auctioneer. Sixteen years later, Weidenhamer's business, Auction Systems Auctioneers & Appraisers, is thriving, with revenue of $93.3 million—and the No. 1,532 spot on the 2010 Inc. 5000, the company's seventh appearance on the list.

I was on a flight to Phoenix, and I started talking to the gentleman next to me, who happened to be an auctioneer. I learned that auctions are a huge industry—$270 billion in 2010—dominated by a few family-run firms. I was mesmerized.

The first thing I did was to sign up for auction school, where I learned how to chant and talk fast. My husband thought I had lost my mind. He has since gotten over it.

We sell for banks, lawyers, courts, government agencies, and individuals. We sell everything from bulldozers from the Department of Transportation to stolen and confiscated goods from law enforcement. We once sold a decree from the Salem witch trials.

My firm has a TV show called Auctioneer$, where they film us at work. I think the recent craze of reality shows has made auctions more popular, but what really changed things was the economy. Ordinary folks were looking for the fastest way to sell their stuff. People are also looking to maintain their lifestyle without spending as much.

What gives us our competitive advantage is that all of our auctions are simulcast online, which means we have people bidding live and on their computers. Everything is transparent.

For more on the Inc. 500|5000, go to www.inc.com/inc5000.

From the July/August 2011 issue of Inc. magazine

Must-read stories from the Inc. 5000
The Full List
The Fastest-Growing Company in America, Fuhu, Makes a Kids Tablet
One Thing Inc. 5000 Companies Have in Common: Performance
The Psychological Price of Starting an Inc. 5000 Company
The Ten Largest Inc. 5000 Companies
Productivity Secrets of Top Women CEOs
IPO Advice from Inc. 5000 CEOs
Facts & Figures of the Inc. 5000
Methodology

DARREN DAHL is a contributing editor at Inc. Magazine, which he has written for since 2004. He also works as a collaborative writer and editor and has partnered with several high-profile authors. Dahl lives in Asheville, NC.




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