When Scott Matthews was just 5 years old, he would watch in awe at farm auctions, captivated by the fast-talking bid callers who ran the show. Like kids who aspire to be professional athletes, Matthews always dreamt of being an auctioneer.
“The first time I went to a farm sale, the auctioneer was doing his chant and it just amazed me,” Matthews said.
It was a fire that died out a bit as he got older, as many childhood aspirations tend to do, but it never went away. In fact, after years of mulling the prospect of pursuing the dream, the fire began to burn brighter in recent years. Finally, Matthews made the decision. He was going to go after it.
“Over the years it would pop in and out of my mind,” said Matthews, a full-time physical education teacher at Midway Elementary School for the past 13 years. “Then, it popped back in my mind and the fire was lit and stayed burning. One night I did a Google search to see where I could go to school.”
That was just a year and a half ago and, last weekend, Matthews won the grand championship of the Auctioneers Association of North Carolina. The distinction was bestowed to Matthews at the AANC’s biannual conference in Cary, just seven months after he was named Rookie Champion.
“I was lucky enough to win it,” Matthews said of the grand championship, in which he faced off with eight other finalists. Those eligible included all licensed auctioneers in the state. The AANC alone has 350 members.
“It’s a live auction and as part of the first part of the competition you have to sell two items to the crowd,” said Matthews.
The second part of the contest including selling a third item and answering a set of interview questions about auctioneering. During the interview, he was asked what traits an auctioneer should possess, the challenges that came with the profession and what it would mean to be champion. Recalling some of his answers, Matthews said being an ambassador for auctioneering was important, and being willing to not only learn but pass on knowledge was just as vital.
“You have to have some knowledge of the industry, you have to be approachable and you have to be a good ambassador of the association,” he noted. “You have to have a passion for something like this.”
Matthews has that passion. Although still relatively new to the game, he has already made an impact.
His Google search would take him to Mendenhall School Of Auctioneering in High Point in August 2014, where he completed a nine-day intensive course that encompassed instructors from across the country sharing their expertise and real-life experiences about everything auctioneering, regardless of the various auctions — estate, livestock, auto, antiques and real estate — students would go on to conduct. In September 2014, Matthews was licensed.
While being an ambassador for auctioneering is a priority for Matthews, from the start of an auctioneer’s career perhaps nothing is more important than the chant. It’s synonymous with auctioneering and what drew Matthews in as a little boy and what he now practices on a regular basis, even slipping into it during PE classes at Midway.
“In order to be a good auctioneer, you have to have a good smooth, rhythmic auction chant. Speed and clarity are both important,” said Matthews. “I guess there has to be a hidden talent, a God-given talent. Nobody is born with an auction chant. I’ve been working on my auction chant for over two years now, since December 2013. The (students) get a kick out of it when I’m calling off roll.”
Matthews currently works estate auctions for the most part through contracted bid calling and inspires to do his own business under Scott Matthews’ Auction Service. His school schedule gives him plenty of time during the summer, as well as on some nights and weekends.
He is quick to thank those who have helped him along the way, including World livestock auction champion Matt Lowery and his predecessor 2015 AANC Grand Champion Elton Baldy, as well as his family for their patience and assistance during the many hours of practice.
“I have had plenty of help,” Matthews attested, thanking wife Lauren, 5-year-old son Ace and his parents, Patsy and Joe Matthews. “They’ve all been supportive of me and helped me. They’ve listened to me in the car, in the shower, in the bedroom and around the house. We’ve even done fake sales when they’re bidding and I’m selling. It just takes so much work to make it happen and I’ve been lucky and blessed to be in this position.”
He looks forward to being that ambassador for the AANC and hopefully boosting membership in the coming year. His next stop is the International Auctioneer Championship in Grand Rapids, Mich., this summer.
“It’s just a dream come true for me,” said Matthews. “It’s an honor and a privilege to be able to win this. I dreamed of winning it but it happened a lot quicker than I ever hoped. I’m grateful for that.”
Reach Managing Editor Chris Berendt at 910-249-4616. Follow the paper on twitter @SampsonInd and like us on Facebook.