For Blaine Lotz from Edna, Kansas, knowing the difference in a lifelong dream and reality was recently achieved.
Lotz, 18 and a freshman at Coffeyville Community College, grew up around the auction business and from the time he was a young child all he ever wanted to do was get his chance to do his chant behind the microphone.
“My parents actually met at a livestock auc-tion,” he explains. “My mom was a livestock auctioneer and my dad was an order buyer.”
In addition to that, Lotzes grandfather made his living doing estate sales.
“Auctions, cattle and sale barns was all I knew from as early as I can remember and I always wanted to be an auctioneer,” he says.
At a very tender age, Lotz could be found playing with his toy sale barn, running Breyer horses and cattle through it and selling them.
“I really didn’t know what I was saying — it was just noises that sounded like the chants that I heard at all the sale barns and then I would say ‘sold,’” he says. “After I ran one set through and sold them I would start over and run them right back through again.”
It’s not uncommon for children to dream of becoming something but sometimes what they want to become changes about as fast as their clothes size.
That was not the case for Lotz however.
“When I got a little older, probably around five or six, I would wait until the sale I was at with Mom and Dad was over and the lights were down and I would get up in the auctioneers booth and practice my chant,” Lotz says. “In my mind I was really selling stuff.”
Lotz never lost sight of his dream to become an auctioneer and, at the age of 15, he attended the Western College of Auctioneering in Billings, Montana.
“I went to auctioneering college in June of 2009, spent a couple weeks out there and learned a lot about the business,” he says.
And it wasn’t long before he was putting what he had learned to use.
“I auctioned my first sale in July of 2009 at Farmers and Ranchers Livestock Auction in Vinita, Okla.,” Lotz says. “I was pretty nervous at first but after a few drafts I calmed down and started to really enjoy it. That is why I still do it today.”
It didn’t take long for folks in the industry to hear about this young man from Edna, Kan., and when he was a senior in high school he was offered the main auctioneer position at the Fredonia Livestock Market in Fredonia, Kan.
“For me, getting offered that position was a great opportunity,” he says. “To know that people trust you is fantastic. Especially when you are just a kid.”
In addition to working at Fredonia, Lotz also auctioneers at Coffeyville Livestock Market in Coffeyville, Kan., all while working on his agricultural communications major at Coffeyville Community College.
And, just to add a little more to his calendar, Lotz recently got the chance to compete in the Livestock Marketing Association’s World Livestock Auctioneer Championship quarterfinals in Greeley, Colorado.
“Ever since I got interested in being an auctioneer I have wanted to go to LMA competitions but you have to be 18 so I had to wait,” Lotz explains. “When I turned 18 I was so excited to be able to get the chance to compete.”
The quarterfinal in Greeley was one of four where the top eight auctioneers are selected and get the opportunity to compete in the World Livestock Auctioneer Championship, which is being held in Turlock, Calif., in June.
According to Lotz, the WLAC consists of 32 of the top auctioneers, plus one Canadian champion, making a total of 33 auctioneers competing at the WLAC.
At Greeley, the judges were looking for some very specific things out of the contestants. Each contestant was graded in five areas:
1. Clarity of chant
2. Voice quality
3. Bid catching ability
4. Execution of the sale
5. Would this auctioneer make a good spokesperson for the livestock marketing industry? And, would you hire this auctioneer?
After the cattle were all sold and the scores were tallied, the top eight were called forward.
“When they called my name in the top eight I was excited because that was my goal going into it,” Lotz explains. “Then they count-ed down the top three from third to first.”
When last year’s World Livestock Auctioneer Champion, Charly Cummings from Yates Center, announced the winner of the Greeley quarterfinal was from Edna, Kan., Lotz couldn’t believe his ears.
“When he said I was the winner I just lost it,” he says. “I started shaking hands, doing interviews and it seemed like everything just sped up and I was already thinking about the WLAC in June.”
Winning the quarterfinals earned Lotz a $500 prize and a belt buckle.
According to Lotz, even being in the running with some of the seasoned veterans he was up against was an honor, but winning, that made it all the more sweet.
For most this would have been one of the greatest days anyone could experience, yet Lotzes week was just getting started.
After competing in Greeley on Tuesday, January 17, he and his family headed home, or almost home. They had one more stop on the way and one more competition.
On Friday, January 20, Lotz competed in the 2012 Kansas Auctioneer Association Livestock Bid Call Contest at the Southeast Kansas Stockyards in Gas, Kan.
Just like it was meant to be, Lotz was once again, which made twice in one week, named champion earning him another $500 and another belt buckle.
All the work that started so early in life, the dream of becoming an auctioneer had paid off. At 18, Blain Lotz had just competed in two competitions and won them both.
“I don’t know if it has even all sunk in yet. I think I am still in shock,” he says.
Although the contests are over, Lotz continues to recall the experiences he had, the people he met and the contacts he made. He knows none of it would be possible without the love, support and education he received from his family.
“My parents are my inspiration. They are the ones that took me everywhere from the time I was very young until now,” he explains. “My mom has been especially important throughout this journey. She introduced me to the auctioneer deal and has always supported me. God has blessed me with good parents and a voice.”
Even though June may seem like a long way off Lotz thinks about the World Livestock Auctioneer Championship every day, all the while, continuing to go to school on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays and working sale barns on Tuesdays and Thursdays.
Lotz continues to set his goals high by hoping to become Rookie of the Year at the WLAC in June. Until then it is just work as usual, doing what he does the best he can do it.
“This has all been a learning experience and I just keep on learning everyday. That is the key — learning from the buyers, the sellers, the barns, and every experience I have,” he concludes.