Owner starts school to fill her staffing needs

NEW YORK (AP) — Deb Weidenhamer, the owner of Auction Systems Auctioneers & Appraisers, couldn't find enough qualified auctioneers in Phoenix to hire.

So she created them.

Two years ago, Weidenhamer opened a school inside her auction house called the Auctioneers & Appraisers Academy. Students take an 85-hour long course and leave with the skills needed to be a fast-talking auctioneer.

Businesses that need employees with special skills often have a hard time finding the right people to hire. Weidenhamer found a way to add more auctioneers to the Arizona market and in the process she created an additional revenue stream.

Before opening the school, Weidenhamer sometimes flew in auctioneers from the East Coast to work an auction. That would cost the auction house about $5,000. The company, which auctions off everything from furniture to real estate to electronics, couldn't find skilled people locally.

Weidenhamer says the reason for that is because the biggest auction markets are located along the East and West Coasts. On top of that, younger people aren't getting into the business. "It's a profession that has not really attracted a lot of people to it," she says.

About 50 people have graduated from the auctioneer training program so far. The company charges $1,595 for the two-week course. Besides talking fast, auctioneers learn how to entertain an auction crowd and get people to bid more, Weidenhamer says. "Auctions last for hours," she says. "Someone really needs to engage the crowd."

Weidenhamer says she has hired more than a dozen people who have graduated from the school to work at Auction Systems Auctioneers & Appraisers. Auctioneers typically don't work for one company. They are independent contractors and work at different auction houses, she says.

Other auction companies in Arizona, that had the same issue finding talent, are hiring students from the school too, Weidenhamer says.

"It really solved a lot of issues for us," she says.

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