Written by Rubik Roy
Rubik works as a freelance journalist and has contributed articles to publications such as The Canberra Times newspaper. In the past he has worked as a volunteer radio presenter on community radio.
Calm control trumps showmanship as Bronte Manuel wins REISA Auctioneering Championship second year in a row
Last year’s winner, Bronte Manuel, was crowned the 2016 REISA Auctioneering Champion on Thursday the 21st of July. This was the second REISA Auctioneering Championship, and was held in the ballroom of the Stamford Grand Hotel in Glenelg.
The winner’s pitch for the night: “Let me crown you king of the castle,” was simple yet effective, and resonated with judges and audience members alike. Issues of gender equality aside, it made bidders feel they were the centre of attention. But the bidder’s every whim or fancy need not be indulged, as Mr Manuel showed, politely but firmly telling one bidder he could not retract a bid; stamping his authority on the proceedings.
Contestants had to be quick on their feet, and able to respond to a broad range of questions from the contract and overseas investors’ laws to neighbourly gossip. All of this had to be done with equanimity and a smile. When the bidding began, the auctioneer’s mental maths skills were put to the test.
Some auctioneers went through the terms of the contract in an informative and entertaining manner, while others steered too sharply one way or the other. A sense of humour is always desirable but as one established practitioner put it, an auction must not have any hint of a farce. The stakes are high and people’s dreams can come and go in the blink of an eye.
Mr Manuel distinguished himself with his well-mannered personality, shunning those vocal tricks and flamboyant gestures by which some auctioneers draw attention to themselves. He never shouted, and he invited bidders to return to the fray without ever being overbearing.
This year’s runner-up, Michael Fenn, performed well under pressure, describing the property on auction as “the Everest of South Australian homes.” He articulated clearly and his open body language earned the judges’ trust; enough to earn him a trip, with Mr Manuel, to the Australasian Championships in Alice Springs.
Last year’s Golden Gavel Rising Star winner, Anthony DeMarco, built good rapport with the audience, drawing loud laughter throughout his routine. The former chef has been auctioneering for a year and compared the thrill of living in the property on auction to being on the Titanic. He demonstrated enough to make onlookers expectant of future things from him; a future definitely more promising than the Titanic’s.
“I’ve been in hospitality for 16 years,” Mr DeMarco said at the end of the competition. “I ran my own kitchen and had to use my voice a lot. Pretended I was an auctioneer. Loved being the centre of attention.”
Mr DeMarco said it was the adrenaline rush that led him to auctioneering: “There’s a lot of money at stake. You’ve got the responsibility and the emotions at play. After having two young children, I thought I needed a change from being a chef.”
Another newcomer to auctioneering, Simon Jones, responded smartly and wittily to questions from bidders. He promoted the house to be auctioned as “the great Australian dream.” His style was engaging and he recovered well from a few numerical slips. His disappointment was evident and indicates the high standards he sets for himself. His desire to learn marks him out as a future player in the industry.
An interesting note was struck by AJ Colman who wore a red bow tie. His unhurried walk to the podium created suspense and raised audience expectations, and he did not disappoint. His response to a bidder, who asked if the property was haunted, was priceless: “It will haunt you if you don’t get it [the property].”
Mr Colman’s voice rose and fell dramatically. His chesty “huh!”s that reverberated throughout the ballroom, suggested a powerful set of lungs, and ensured that all eyes were on him.
All five contestants made the bidders feel they were in a race to win a prize. During the final count, many of the contestants went into a crouch, partly Haka, partly American football, before slamming “the contract” on their open palm and gesturing towards the winning bidder. An act that entertained the younger members of the audience, and left the older ones a little embarrassed.
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