Dace Harper starts young at auctioneering
June 12, 2011
On the phone, 25-year-old Dace Harper speaks fast and clearly – tell-tale signs of an auctioneer. The life-long Faith, SD, native honed his market man skills last October by completing 92 hours of auctioneering course work, earning himself a degree from the Western College of Auctioneering in Billings, MT.
Just a few days after completing the course, Faith Livestock Commission Co. owner Gary Vance gave Harper the opportunity to sell a few cows.
“Lots of young people that age go to auctioneering school, but they have to have an opportunity to sell,” Vance said in response to why he gave the young man a chance on the mic. “We’ve watched a lot of auctioneers wait a long time to have that opportunity.”
Harper credits Vance’s opportunity as his most memorable sale thus far. “I sold three or four cows. I wasn’t very good, but it was a start,” Harper said humbly, pointing out that auctioneer Doug Dietterle has been helpful to learn from.
One of the biggest challenges facing young auctioneers is getting hands-on experience selling livestock, or their “foot in the door,” Harper noted. He does more than just auctioneer – working in the back sorting cattle and handling other odd jobs, both at Faith and Philip auction markets. “You’ve got to pay your dues before you can get to the top like the good guys,” Harper said.
When he’s not working at a market, Harper is works on his family’s ranch north of Faith. There he finds ample time to practice his auctioneering skills. “Sell anything you can. Sell a pop can to yourself,” Harper joked.
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His biggest advice to others starting in the auctioneer business to is practice. “Work at it; don’t get discouraged,” he said. According to Vance, Harper has improved an awful lot since last October.
“You have to get up and have that experience for yourself – how to relax, handle the crowd, take bids. The more you sell, the better it becomes,” Vance said of the learning process an auctioneer goes through.
In 10-15 years, Harper’s auctioneering goal is “to sell a sale a every day, all week long.”
That drive was evident to Vance, who said, “Dace was very, very definite in what he wanted to do. When anyone shows that enthusiasm to learn, they can really improve and be good at it.
“He’ll be a good auctioneer all his life if he continues to do what he’s doing now,” Vance said.