Chris Longly from the National Auctioneers Association talks about his role as Deputy Executive Directory and promotes the 60th International Auctioneers Conference and show.
You’re listening to the Auction Podcast. Today is Wednesday, 27th May, 2009. auctioneertech.com – technology, auction and auctioneers, auction tech for the auction industry.
Hello and welcome to the 18th episode of the Auction Podcast from AuctioneerTech. My name is Aaron Traffas and joining me today for the first NAA staff interview is Chris Longly, Deputy Executive Director for the National Auctioneers Association based in Overland Park, Kansas. Chris is on the show tonight for two reasons, the first to talk about his role in the association and the second to tell us about the 60th International Auctioneers Conference and Show coming this July to the Kansas City area.
AuctioneerTech: Good evening Chris and thank you for joining me.
Chris Longly: Thank you Aaron, I’m honored to be the first NAA staff member to join you on your show.
AT: I realize the auctioneers and vendors I’ve had on in previous episodes do a great job of promoting the association but you are the first official and a representative, give me the ninety second elevator speech about what the NAA is, who it benefits and what its goals are.
CL: Well you know I can even beat ninety seconds. To sum up the NAA, there is no better way to describe it that the NAA was built 60 years ago by auctioneers for auctioneers. Simply put, we are here to serve the auction profession and the auction industry, we are the biggest advocate of the auction industry and the auction profession, our role here is to provide auctioneers and auction companies with the tools, training, education and resources that they need to succeed in the ever changing market place. Auctions are different today than they were sixty years ago when the NAA was founded, it’s continued to grow and change every day. So we are here to help provide those tools and resources, so we can move forward. Actions have been around two thousand years and they’re going to be here in the future, but each day they change a little bit and we are here to kind of grow and change with that industry. And so that is our role, is that we are here to provide that, the training, the resources and that networking environment that so many people come to the NAA for, just to network and to communicate and kind of to connect with auctioneers from all over in the United States or even across the world.
Sounds like that snot the first time you’ve had the answer that question.
I am their PR guy so I’m sorry.
So, talk a little bit about that, what are the official job responsibilities for your position which is listed on the website as deputy executive director and what does an average day consist of for you?
You know, when I first joined the NAA, it was two years ago, I came to the NAA as its public affairs manager and as over time my roles and responsibilities have grown. My primary responsibility as the deputy executive director is kind of an extension of those responsibilities which were public relations, government relations and charitable relations. First and foremost, my job for the NAA is to be its advocate for the association and advocate and promoter of our members, and advocate and promoter of the industry. And I do that through the media, my job is to act as a spokesperson, so I will work with everyone from CNN to for instance this week we had a great story on national public radio about auctions and talking about that growth, so I work with the media to promote and push the industry and promote and push NAA auctioneers. On the government relations side, my job is to, one act as an advocate, whether it be in Washington DC, on behalf of the auction industry or as an advisor, kind of a consultant to state associations when they run into issues, since my time we’ve been here I’ve had the fortune of working on behalf of the association to fight some rules in the general services administration that were going to be prohibitive to auctioneers and really box auctioneers out of selling for the Federal government. And so it’s my honor to work with auctioneers and going to Washington DC and stopping that from taking place. And so that’s just an example of the things we work on, working in the state legislatures to educate them about the auction profession and protecting the auctioneers. That’s what we do on the government relations side.
And then on the charitable side, as many people know who follow the National Auctioneers Association, we are proud sponsors of St. Jude Children Research Hospital in Memphis Tennessee and so my job is to act as a liaison between the auctioneers in the NAA and the hospital. We have raised roughly about four million dollars for St. Jude’s since we our partnership began in 1995 and it’s something we continue to hopefully grow and build upon and get more members involved in raising money for that cause. But then also with the association of our size, most people will think the National Auctioneers Association is a very large organization, staff size, we are actually quite small. So we get to dabble in everything. So today I worked with the landscaping through our front, I am the office barbequer, so I do a little bit of everything here at the NAA.
Nice. How did you become involved with the National Auctioneers Association, what’s your background, where are you from and what drew you to the NAA.
Alright…well I’m a proud Nebraskan, so I hail from the good life state, I grew up around auctions my entire life, my family, grandfather was a farmer and rancher, so I remember spending time with him at the livestock sales, but as I grew older I kind of moved away from that. And my background is politics, I studied politics and media relations at University of Nebraska, so I’m a big Cornhusker Fan. I’ve done politics and managed Congressional campaigns and U.S. Senate races when I left college, and then I moved to the corporate side and I did PR and government relations, we call it public affairs in the industry. Public affairs is the combination of government relations and media relations and I did that for The Venetian of Las Vegas, if people are familiar with Las Vegas, I did a little work for them and then I also did work for State Farm Insurance. So I could insure your gambling assets in a sense. But then I came across an opportunity in the Kansas City area that I saw there was an association in need of a public affairs professional and knowing auctions and growing up around them, I thought wow, I found somebody who could talk more than me and faster than me, so this is going to work for me. So that’s why I came down here and joined the NAA staff and I handled the public affairs.
Great. Speaking of public affairs, one of the biggest, in my mind, one of the biggest presences that NAA has for the average auctioneer is at Conference and Show. So how would you describe Conference and Show to someone who is unfamiliar with it, either someone who is unfamiliar with the industry and the association or an auctioneer who is just now beginning to be involved in the association?
You know, the best way for me to sum up Conference and Show is just that one spot that every auctioneer should be in July and should make every attempt to be there because this is the one spot where you could go to network, ask those questions that you are needing input on, getting that education to help you remain competitive in the marketplace, its all those things in one week, in Kansas City this Summer, next year it will be in Greensboro North Carolina and so on and so forth, its that one week where we get together and have fun, we celebrate our industry, we compete with competitions, we have education sessions, but most importantly its just that shaking hands in the hallway, asking if you are a new person in the industry, asking that thirty year veteran, how have you stayed in this business for thirty years. What would be the one tip you could offer me as an auction school graduate so I can be in your same shoes thirty years down the road. That’s what’s Conference and Show; it’s that one week where you get everything you need. But at the same time it’s that family reunion and that’s one thing we are going to have this year, is that family reunion thing because if you ask many NAA members, Conference and Show is far more than just business and professional development. It is catching up with old friends, what has happened in the last year since I last saw you at Conference and Show last year. So that’s how I describe Conference and Show.
You mentioned it is going to be in Kansas City this year. Why is it coming home to Kansas City?
Kansas City, its coming home because home is where we are here and it is our sixtieth anniversary. 1949, eleven auctioneers got together and created the National Auctioneers Association, sixty years have passed, its time to bring in the family, come to Kansas City to Overland Park and we are going to get together and celebrate sixty years. I mean, that’s something to hang your head on and be proud, so it’s going to be a family reunion in a sense. And we are going to celebrate sixty years because here in Kansas City this is where we are headquartered, so it makes sense to bring everyone home to the family.
Being based in Kansas City and I assume living there somewhere in the area, you should be relatively familiar with Kansas City and the Kansas City area. What are some things to do, what are some night life attractions and what can we expect for some of the extracurricular activities in Kansas City?
Well, and that’s one thing I think many people sometimes get well, what’s in Kansas City and that’s one thing I love telling our members about is, there is so much to see in Kansas City, its really hard to summarize it, but I tell people if you are a history buzz, if you like museums, we have the only World War 1 museum in the world. It is the Liberty Museum, the Liberty Monument and so that is one of the neatest museums that we have in Kansas City, if you like art we have world renowned art museums in our gallery here, Nelson Atkins Museum. If you like shopping, let me tell you, we have a lot of places where you can spend a lot of money here in Kansas City. We have the world famous popular, a lot of people know of it, is The Plaza. It’s a boutique shop fun area, great restaurants, it’s a part of Kansas City that people come from all over the country just for the shopping and for the experience, if you are looking for fun and speed, we have the Kansas City Speedway one of Nascars race tracks here in Kansas City that we are pretty proud of. But then also we have new areas and new developments like the Kansas City Power and Light District, this is a new evening restaurant establishment that was built up this year that goes with the Sprint Center which is our new TV entertainment district but also right next to the entertainment district at the Sprint Center is the college basketball hall of fame museum. So that’s another museum for people to see. The list goes on and on, museums and attractions to see, but there also are a lot of family fun things. The Deanna Rose Children’s Farmstead, that’s an outdoor park where kids can play with the animals. I went there with my niece and nephew a couple of years ago, they have a fishing pond there that you literally stick your fishing pond and fish will just out of the water onto your hook. It is an amazing experience, that’s my kind of fishing that works for me. But there are all kinds of things to see and do. Food, shopping, obviously when you come to Kansas City we highly recommend that you eat a barbeque, but we also have some great stake houses, some great Italian restaurants, you name it, the cuisine is there. And that’s the neat thing about where we are for Conference and Show, is that there are just a plethora of food selections to choose from and sites to see in Overland Park, Kansas.
There is a jam packed schedule of educational activities and tours, there are several NAA educational institute designation courses that are offered and the day is leading up to where it kind of all begins with the opening night ceremonies on Tuesday evening. Talk a little bit about what we can expect for opening night and maybe what some of the big ticket items and banquets and competitions are the rest of the week.
Well, you know, we always start off Conference and Show with some pre conference education. This is an opportunity for members who maybe couldn’t get to one of our designation courses throughout the year, and so the days before we lead into Conference and Show, we have some pre conference courses. We have the AARE course, we have the GPPA course, the ATS, the BAS, the CES and even this year we have the Professional Ringman’s Institute offering some of their course, all in the day before Conference and Show. So for those members who want to get, or non members, who want to come out and obtain a continuing education designation the day before the conference and then head into the conference for additional continuing education, that’s the place to be. Opening night is one of the events everybody looks forward to, this is when I say family reunion, its amazing to see the members just get excited, hugging, shaking hands with friends who they haven’t seen either in a year or more. And this year, because it is that sixtieth anniversary, we have what is called rock and reunion. And so this is going to be a fun event at the Overland Park Convention Center, Sheraton Hotel area where we will be, we are going to have indoor games, we are going to have outdoor games. Obviously the highlight of the night I think will be the auction idol competition. This is an event we are doing that’s new this year, everybody loves American idol, so we thought why not do Auction Idol. And so what will happen is, we have members who have registered and we still have some open spots for the musician out there who would like to compete, we will have members do their musical presentations and then we will be selling tickets for members to buy to use, to vote for their favorite contestants, and all those proceeds go to St. Jude Children Research Hospital. So it’s a fun way for our members to show their musical talents because we have some of the most talented musicians in any industry, I think, and that’s part of the auction industry, there is a lot of stage performance presence and musical talent I think Aaron you’ve got some musical talent, I’ve been told, so I expect you to be in the Auction Idol. But this is an opportunity for them to show their stuff and raise money for a good cause.
Now, while we have that, we are going to have some kid’s activities. We are going to have the moon walk for the kids to play on, and the key to the whole night is the barbeque. We are going to have the world famous Jack Stack Kansas City Barbeque for everybody to enjoy out in the green space, to enjoy the night, I think we are going to have ice cream, cotton candy, and maybe some shaved ice cones, I’m not sure, but then my favorite part maybe, I don’t know, there are a lot of favorite parts, but this one is new, and this one has been fun putting together for our members, and its Wii World. Everybody has heard of the Nintendo Wii, I haven’t played one once you play you are going to be addicted, we are going to have rows wiis set up throughout the hotel and conference center so people can play tennis, they can bowl, we’ve got fishing, we’ve got race cars, we are going to have all kinds of different games for people to play throughout the week but opening night there is going to be outside of the opening night event. And then the kicker is, at the end of the week, those wiis that everybody has been playing on, they are up for sale. They are going up on the auction in the IAC. Now that brings up a good thing; we talk about what are some of the events and activities, competition. That’s something that people come year in, year out to strut their stuff and to take the stage and hopefully take the title. Obviously the most I guess well known event that we have at Conference and Show is the International Auctioneer Championship. We’ve been doing this for I think 21, 22 years. I guess it will be 21 years this year, because Paul Behr was the first IAC champion in 1988, so we will have auctioneers from across the country, actually we’ve had auctioneers from across the world compete for that world title champion. And so this is an exciting event, you just see talent, unbelievable talent come across the stage on Friday and show their stuff. So we will be picking a new world champion male auctioneer and we will be picking new international auctioneer champion woman and they will be our spokespeople and our advocates for the coming year. Now you have the upcoming International Auctioneer Champions, get their practice in the international junior auctioneer championship and that’s going to go on throughout the week with the finals taking place on Friday morning. And this is where we have young kids, I shouldn’t say kids because it starts at eighteen years and younger, compete. So you are going to have third generation, second generation auctioneers, even fourth generation auctioneers come up and start their stuff and you’ll be amazed when you see the talent that comes across the stage, you would think they could compete just as well in the International Auctioneers Championship. So a lot of pure talent coming across the stage at a very young age.
I remember before thinking that there were certainly some contestants in the IJAC, the International Junior Auctioneers, I definitely remember thinking that they were some of those that could just as well have placed very strongly in the IAC.
Exactly. And this is our third year. Trev Moravec who was our first IJAC winner two years ago in San Diego, the previous year I think he was nineteen two years ago, I think when he was eighteen, he was a finalist in the International Auctioneers Championship. So he is competitive across the board, the talent is amazing, Jacob Barth who won last year, again he is fourteen years old but he sounds like he’s been bid calling, now you know he’s been bid calling since birth but his bid call is phenomenal for only fourteen years. So I always look forward to seeing that just because it’s nice to see the next generation moving forward in our industry. And then finally, we have for the third year, the International Ringman’s Competition. This takes place in conjunction with the National Auctioneers Foundation fun auction and this always an exciting auction where you get to see the real talent out there in the field in the ringman’s industry and so we are always looking forward to seeing the excitement in it, the energy those contestants bring to the competition, and they are always raise for a wonderful cause which is our foundation. And so that’s going to be another exciting event that’s going to just get people involved in the association and the competition.
We are past now the early bird registration deadline, I am sure that we have quite a few of our membership procrastinating a little bit maybe more this year looking at the economy and maybe still kind of deciding whether or not to come. What’s the attendance looking like right now and is it too late to register for discount?
It’s never too late to register for discounts, registration numbers look good, we always want more, we tell people, you come that first time, if you are sitting on the fence right now wondering if you should come your first time, this is the perfect opportunity for you. And if you are looking at it and going well, the economy is kind of tough, maybe business has not been as fast or as strong as I’d want, that’s the perfect example why you should be at Conference and Show. Come here, get some ideas, get some inputs and maybe you’ll make a business connection that will give you new business. When its times like this, that’s more the reason you need to tap into the association. Tap into that network of people to help you build your business, you can survive these tough times and actually more forward and make more money for your business. Trust me if you come to Conference and Show, I think you’ll find that you’ll make more money than would spend on conference far and above.
I would definitely agree with that
I hope so; I think that’s a perfect reason why you’d want to come to Conference and Show. But no, it’s not too late. Actually, if we are going to air this before June 5th, you have one last chance to save money on your registration. June 5th is the last cut off date before we get into Conference and Show. So if you have not registered for Conference and Show and it’s before June 5th and you’re sitting on the fence, save yourself seventy-five bucks and go ahead and register today. Whether it’s the Full Pack, the Super Saver 1, Super Saver 2, get in there before June 5th and save yourself seventy-five bucks.
What’s the hotel and lodging situation looking like, are they filling up, what kind of lodging is there close to the Overland Park Convention Center.
Well, you know, all the hotels are showing up pretty fast. So we tell you to contact NAA Travel and I’ve got their phone number here for anybody who is listening. If you are looking at coming to Conference and Show, get in touch with NAA Travel as soon as possible and book your room and that number is 877-363- 9378. If you want to get in touch with them, go ahead and book your room and make sure you are ready to go. All of the hotel rooms are either connected to the convention center across the street or I think the furthest one is maybe a half a mile away but obviously within walking distance of the convention center, there is free packing at the convention center so don’t let parking prevent you from coming, but there is one thing that you will probably want to do when you come to conference and show this year, is that we’re a little bit further away from the airport than I think previous conference and shows in years past. So we would highly recommend you rent a car for the week, but that’s perfect opportunity for you to go check out a Kansas City Royals game in the evenings or better yet how about you take a trip at the Branson Missouri, see a show, come to Conference and Show. But rent that car. So you’re going to need to rent a car but everything, the hotels are nearby and there is still room, so book today.
I sure I’m looking forward to it certainly because I am very close and kind of familiar with Kansas City but also because, at least in my opinion and experience, the traffic isn’t as nearly as bad as it has been at some of the other locations we’ve had Conference and Show and it is away from the airport but its not like it’s a crazy horrible commute, there is a lot of, its pretty much an interstate straight down from the airport to the convention center and so I would definitely agree with that recommendation to get a car, and its really not that bad.
What’s your favorite spot in Kansas City Aaron?
Well, I’m kind of partial to some of the night life establishments, I’ve seen some great shows in the Kansas City area, I am a big fan of alternative country and music in general and so I always coming over and I get to see Ryan Adams out there and some other really great bands, I’ve actually played a couple of times in the area, so there is a lot of great places. I am kind f looking forward to getting to the Power and Light District; I haven’t had a chance to see that yet.
Oh, there is the PBR bar. If you are looking for country music, there is the Professional Bull Riders and they’ve got a mechanical bull with your name on it. So get down there while you’re in town.
That’s just what I need. So, what was your involvement like in the coordination and planning of Conference and Show this year and what can we expect to see you doing during the convention?
Well, I usually tell people when I talk to members; a lot of my interactions with our membership is over the phone. So when I see them in Conference and Show, it’s really exciting to finally meet them in person. So I tell people I am the guy running around like a chicken with its head cut off. Most of my time is making sure that everything is in order for the members, we have ticket people in place, we have food where food needs to be, a lot of my time is working with the media, one of my favorite parts is taking our IAC champions out to local TV stations and introducing bid calling and the art of auctioneering to the local TV anchors, just because they enjoy it, it’s a great opportunity to showcase our IAC champions talent, but its also a good time to talk about the industry. I remember when we were in Nashville last year, a lot of people wanted to talk about real estate auctions. And so it was a great opportunity to educate Nashville viewers about how real estate auctions have grown. So it’s a great opportunity to do PR there. But overall, my job is just to help facilitate the association move and do business because my job also involves memberships, we’re going to talk about growing the association and building that and what we can provide members to make the association more beneficial and useful to them in the future. So a little bit of business but hopefully a bit of fun; catching up. I’m looking forward to seeing the members.
Yeah. You mentioned at the very beginning of the Podcast that next year, we can expect to look forward to North Carolina. What are some new ideas that we may look forward to seeing at future Conferences and Shows?
Well, you know Conference and Show is something we are constantly trying to build upon and make it a better draw, make it more worthy, useful over time, the last thing we want to do is provide a member with a conference that they don’t walk away going, I didn’t know that. We want you to talk away with a notepad full of ideas, pocket full of business cards from members you’ve met, and so we are constantly looking at what education programs we can provide that will be more beneficial, what kind of activities and events can we provide that are going to be beneficial. But next year, we are in Greensboro North Carolina, we are going to be in Orlando in 2011, Spokane in 2012 and Indianapolis in 2013. So everybody needs to put those on the calendar, you know where you need to be till 2013, and hopefully soon we’ll have 2014 picked up real quick so you can go and put that on your calendar there. But we plan these on advance and we are always looking for inputs. So members of the association, even non members of the association, if there is something that you’d like to see at Conference and Show, please let us know. This is your association is probably something else that another member wants, but we need to hear it from you.
Great. One last question for you Chris and I know that with your background in politics I realize that there is certainly some political implications here about picking sides and things like that but now that you’ve been with the association for a few years, what are your thoughts on some of the things that NAA can do to make itself even better in the future.
Well, let me see which way… I guess I’m trying to understand the question, sorry…
What are some ideas that NAA may, in your opinion, look at pursuing to make itself increase membership, make itself more relevant in the industry and things to make it even better.
Well, you know, things that we can do to kind of build our association to make it better is obviously create our presence. Create our presence in the industry, part of the association’s job is to get out there and promote the industry. So we’ve had a lot of successes over the past year, two years on getting ourselves out there in front of the mainstream media and getting in people’s homes, talking about auctions, making auctions no longer this process that sometimes you hear about but you don’t know the facts or details behind, we are trying to bring it to the mainstream and so we’ve had a lot of success there, but we need to continue to have that presence. But it’s not just the NAA that needs to be doing the PR; it’s our members out there in their local communities. Picking up the phone and calling their radio stations or their local newspaper and inviting them to an auction or offering to tell them about an auction. Together at the grassroots level and at the grass tops level, we are going to increase the PR and make the association and the industry and the membership much more stronger and better in the future. From the membership perspective, one thing we are constantly looking to do for our members is create benefits and enhance our benefits. What are some things that maybe we are not providing our members that may be useful. What are some things that really members don’t see benefit in that we can maybe move to something different. So that’s one of the things I’d like to see in my position, is looking at our membership benefits and increasing those and making those better so members can walk away saving money for their personal business. That’s one of the greatest benefits we can do as an association, is not only save you money, but we want to help you make money.
Well, that’s it for Episode 18. My guest tonight is Chris Longley, deputy executive director of the National Auctioneers Association which you can visit at www.auctioneers.org. You can also find complete information about the 60th International Auctioneers Conference and Show. Thank you very much Chris for taking time out of your evening to join me this evening.
Thank you Aaron and we’ll see you in a couple of weeks.
You’ve been listening to the Auction Podcast from Auctioneer Tech. If you have questions, suggestions or comments or are interested in being a guest, please let me know by going to www.actioneertech.com/feedback and leaving a message. You can also post public comments about this or any other episode as well as find show transcripts on the Auction Podcast page of AuctioneerTech.com.
Thank you for listening. Now go sell something!