Steffes Group


Back to Business as Usual in 2021

Auction crowd

Back to Business as Usual in 2021
July 2021


I don’t think anyone would ever accuse the year 2020 of being “normal”. As we are already through the first half of 2021, it seems “normal” is starting to make its way back. The exception would be our markets for both equipment and real estate which are anything but. That is if you agree the accelerated rising prices we have experienced aren’t your everyday occurrence. Everyone knows it’s not uncommon for markets to rise but I’d have to say the first half of 2021 and the kinds of market changes are more of a rarity than an everyday event. Of course, the auction world is the first place “changing” markets are discovered. It’s always been that way because of the right here, right now, for cash, to the highest bidder environment an auction creates. I suspect as time goes on, we’ll be the first to discover markets don’t always go up every day and we’ll be the first to know it too. For now, we don’t see that happening at least until the supply chain starts filling up and we see more availability in the marketplace. Who knows what 2022 will bring? I’m an optimist.

Another ingredient to auctions has certainly seen an acceleration. That’s the use of technology in the auction process. There has been live internet bidding at our on-site auctions for more than a couple of decades already. We started around 1998. We also have offered “Internet Only” auctions for more than a decade as well. Time flies, doesn’t it? Covid made everyone pivot and took live auctions off the table literally overnight but luckily auctions didn’t miss a beat, at least in our world. Fortunately, we were able to revert back to live events within a couple of months in most, but not all markets or states.

So here we are, halfway through another year and I’m happy to report our company mix of live auctions versus online-only is back to the pre-Covid, normal. Don’t get me wrong, we are still doing a great amount of online-only events and that process continues to prove it’s worth and effectiveness. Perhaps I am biased or old-fashioned, but I believe the live auction still holds a long-term solid position, especially in the world of retirement auctions and estates. I hope it never changes.

You see, a live auction to many of the families and businesses we work with is much more than a means to dispose of no longer needed assets. Way more. It’s truly a process, a memorable event, and a chance for family to gather, employees to reminisce and to many, the beginning of a life-changing experience and a much different world for them. That can’t be experienced when people don’t gather, friends don’t shake hands and conversations aren’t started by gathering together and “looking each other in the eye”. I hope we never lose that as to me it’s part of the bigger picture or maybe you could call it the human experience.

There’s something about having to park halfway down the ditch on a gravel road and walking more than you planned (or have for a long time) to get to the auction. Oh, and looking for your coveralls and a hat because it’s freezing cold or your 4 buckles you never wear anymore because it’s mud everywhere and you might have to stand around for a while. What about standing in line to get a sloppy joe and a cup of coffee or a big nasty brat you probably shouldn’t eat? While you’re waiting, you run into a guy you saw at the last auction and strike up a conversation about the rain or the crops or how he made out pulling that chisel plow home he bought behind a ½ ton pickup! Good stuff and more than just about transacting a good amount of business. It’s an auction sale! Truly part of the human experience and I hope we get to practice the live auction bid call we know and love for many decades more. I hope to see you at an auction, sometime soon! Don’t forget to pack some extra clothes (rain, sleet, snow, mud, wind, pick one or all).  My Dad always told me when you go to an auction, “You can’t put them on if you don’t bring them with”!

-       -  Scott Steffes, President