“I sure do like your earrings.”
Most auctioneers would get red behind the ears if a bidder said that to them.
However, to a progressive woman auctioneer, the remark was a sincere compliment.
“I appreciate it when people attending my auctions know I am professional serving both buyers and sellers.”
Halie Behr, Denver, Colorado, is a full-time auctioneer with clientele throughout the country.
“Only about 14 percent of auctioneers are women,” Behr said. “Fortunately, the auction business has become a very successful lifetime career for me.”
Besides her gender, Behr is even more unique and unusually diverse in her auctioneering career.
“It is interesting how I got started,” Behr said. “My grandpa insisted that my younger sister and I attend auction school. I was only 15-years-old, and my sister Lexie was just 13.”
Their grandpa said there wasn’t any pressure. They only had to attend for a few hours each day and could still go to the pool and boating.
“Boy, was that a fib,” Behr said. “We got the auction school schedule on day one, and it was 12-hour-days.”
Iowa natives, the sisters went to the summer session, June 2010, at the World Wide College of Auctioneering, Mason City, Iowa.
“With all of the cowboys, men much older than us, we felt completely out of place,” Behr admitted. “Still, we were intrigued even though the sessions were very long.”
Their uncle, Paul C. Behr, international champion and three-times world champion auctioneer, then owned the school.
“Maybe we didn’t want to let him down, or grandpa either,“ Behr said. “We wanted to keep our word, so we continued attending classes.
“We kept getting more involved and when graduation day arrived, we cried and cried, hating that it was over. We wanted to be auctioneers. We were auctioneers.”
During high school, Behr assisted her clubs’ fundraising auctions all while helping other auctioneers in the area. “I really enjoyed it and decided this might me what I wanted to do with my life,” she said.
What gave Behr reassurance of becoming a career auctioneer was winning the international junior auctioneer championship against all male competitors.
“I think grandpa felt a surge of ‘I told you so,’ when it was all said and done,” Behr laughed.
Attending Iowa State University, Ames, Iowa, Behr worked with the Steffes Auction Group assisting with a variety of auctions.
“I helped with about every kind of auction there ever was,” Behr said. “However, what I found most appealing was the fundraising auctions.
“It is so satisfying helping schools, hospitals, worthy organizations maximize their fundraising results for specific needs,” she added.
She worked with three professional fundraising auctioneers including Letitia Frye, Scottsdale, Arizona; Kristine Fladeboe-Duininck, Minneapolis, Minnesota; and Gary Corbett, Denver.
“They are my mentors,” Behr credited. “I learned an immense amount from each of them about fundraising auctions.”
Following college graduation, Behr stepped right into the fundraising auction business. “It’s almost unbelievable how there is such a demand for my services,” she said.
Headquartered in Denver, Behr conducts fundraising auctions throughout the United States. She also sells automobiles via the auction method in both Denver and Dallas every week.
“Obviously, I fly a lot,” Behr said. “I’ll be in Denver, then Dallas, and have a fundraising auction all the way across the country the next day.”
In addition, Behr has two fundraising auction businesses where both her siblings and cousin assist with the operations.
“We work very closely with the organizations for which we conduct auctions,” she said. “We work with organizations months in advance to completion of the auction.”
This includes touring the nonprofit, meeting with the committee, attending patron parties, and offering recap meetings.
“We always say: ‘Choose Behr, because we care,’” she commented. “It shows with our passion for the nonprofit organization we are working with.”
Many longtime career auctioneers have strong feelings that bidders must be in attendance at live auctions.
“There’s nothing like a live in-person auction which provides the purest form of buying and selling,” Behr said. “But today, the market has changed. It is different with simulcast, social media technology, and virtual auctions.
“We have ‘hybrid auctions’ with bidders in attendance and others bidding live on the internet,” Behr continued. “We have auction bidders from all over the country which has increased net returns markedly.”
Coronavirus had a negative impact on much of the country. “It was just the opposite for us,” Behr said. “Virtual auctions allowed us to continue serving our clientele. With much of the population home-bound, they were eager to bid and help others. We saw immense growth during the pandemic.”
No end in sight for this unique auctioneer best described as a “Fundaneer.” Behr is just one of 200 benefit auction specialists in the United States.
“I’m a woman in what is generally recognized as a man’s profession, but it’s the absolute best business,” Behr said. “I love auctions. I love being an auctioneer. I will be an auctioneer until the day I die.
“The best part of it all is being able to help others,” Colonel Halie Behr concluded.