My Job: Ringmaster and Marketer

Name: Joseph Everitt Teipel, aka Surfer Joe the Auctioneer
Job: Owner, AuctionAction LLC
Experience: 27 years

Start: Teipel got his first taste of auctioneering in 1984: Jewelry and watch broker Hingkie Han hired him to conduct her popular fashion auctions in Waikiki nightclubs.

Skills required: Auctioneers are a blend of marketers, entertainers and ringmasters, and the best know what they’re selling, target the right buyers and have strong integrity. Teipel has learned how to remain calm under pressure while giving clients what they want. “The how-tos of teamwork … are now humming along for me quite well,” he says. “You can’t learn less, right?”

Longest day: Interisland carrier Discovery Airlines shut down in July 1990 after only a year in existence. Teipel and two other auctioneers were hired to live auction about 4,000 lots of items. Except for two 30-minute breaks, Teipel was on the microphone, bid-calling or relaying bids for 17.5 hours. “After selling that final lot at 1:30 a.m. Sunday, the day after we started, I knew that God had designed me for this craft.”
toughest part: He finds it challenging to navigate the fast-moving, volatile environment of closure-liquidations “in such a way that both sides experience a peaceful and smooth process.”

Rewards: Teipel says the most rewarding part of his job is his long-term partnerships with other people. “Like marriage, they’re heaven when they work and hell when they don’t.” Teipel also loves the flexible lifestyle. “It’s a lot like surfing. It’s spontaneous, risky, rewarding, exciting, fun.”

Pay: Teipel wouldn’t reveal his income, but, unlike Teipel, most auction professionals are part-timers, says the National Auctioneers Association. They are paid a flat rate or a fee plus a small percentage of sales, which ranges from 1 to 10 percent. Some auctioneers earn six figures a year.


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