Springfield business sells to the highest bidder

Springfield – Randy Fleming knows all too well the love affair people have with auctions. The president and chief auctioneer of Springfield-based Great Plains Realty Auction Co. has been in the bidding business for nearly 20 years.

The company recently moved to Springfield from Omaha because of lower building and operating costs.

“I may have two or three people a year come to my office,” Fleming said.

Most of Fleming’s business is done on the customer’s property, which has been anyone from farmers, local businesses and the City of Omaha.

Dean W. Fleming, Fleming’s father, opened the doors of Great Plains Realty Auction Co. in Omaha in 1964. Fleming purchased the company from his mother and father in 1983.

The company deals with multi-functional land auctions, farm equipment auctions and business liquidations in Nebraska and Iowa. Great Plains Realty Auction Co. also works with the City of Omaha each year, auctioning off vehicles and personal property. Insurance Auto Auctions of Chicago is another of the company’s customers.

Some of the costs involved for a business or individual interested in an auction include advertising costs and set-up fees.

“The customer is paying for the time and labor to organize the merchandise in a manner which will flow easy for the auction,” Fleming said.

While other businesses are feeling the pinch of a sluggish economy, Fleming said he hasn’t seen a slowdown in auction attendance.

“People are curious as to what their neighbor’s property is going to bring,” he said. “Auctions bring people to find out what’s going on.”

Auctions based in smaller, close knit cities traditionally bring in more dollars and people. Fleming said larger cities have more entertainment options and multiple auctions scheduled for the same day, thereby creating more competition.

“You have to split the crowd.”

Auctions are also considered recreation in some communities, allowing residents to gather, socialize and learn what’s going on in their community.

“Real estate auctions are usually the most successful,” Fleming said. “We can put more potential buyers on the property in one day than most {real estate agents} can in six months.”

Among the challenges Fleming faces in the auction business are marketing and advertising. “It’s important to bring the right people to the auction to result in competitive bidding,” he said.

The goods hoping to be sold are usually gone in a 24-hour period in a fair and efficient manner, he said.

“Everyone can sell something,” Fleming said. “If you don’t know how to market, it could be much tougher to sell your goods.”