September 29, 2022

Holley enters auctioneers’ hall of fame

BLOOMINGTON, Ill. — Otis Holley was inducted into the Illinois State Auctioneers Association Hall of Fame at its annual conference Feb. 13.

Holley owns and operates Advanced Auction and Appraisal in Durand. He has been a member of ISAA since 1995, serving in several leadership posts, including president in 2014, as well as past secretary and treasurer, board member, district chairman and district governor.

Holley has auctioneer licenses in Illinois, Indiana, Wisconsin and Texas and has been selling and appraising a variety of commercial and industrial equipment, estates, real estate, automobiles, construction equipment and auto dealerships since 1980.

He won state bid calling championships in both Illinois and Wisconsin in 2006 and is also a member of the National Auctioneers Association, as well as the Indiana and Wisconsin state auctioneers associations.

“To be inducted into the ISAA Hall of Fame is the highest honor that we can bestow on a member. It is for not only their service to the auction industry as an ambassador to the industry and to our association, but also who they are as a human being and their kindness and their faith and what they choose to share with regards to mentorship and friendship and fellowship,” said Renee Jones, ISAA president.

“This honor for Otis couldn’t be more well-deserved and I am honored to call him my friend.”

“It’s something I have always loved to do and it’s my passion.”

—  Otis Holley, Advanced Auction and Appraisal

After receiving the distinguished honor, Holley reflected on the honor and his career.

How did you get into the auction business?

“I’m the first generation of my family to get into the auction business. My dad and grandfather would take me to sales when I was little, and I was intrigued by how the auctioneer could talk. One day I was out in the yard and dad came out of the house and I was selling. Dad asked me what I was doing, and I said I was going to be an auctioneer and that was at age 8.

“When I graduated from high school in 1980, I went to auction school in August in Missouri, and I’ve now been doing it for 42 years.”

What types of auctions did you initially focus on?

“I did estate auctions and worked with other auction companies in my area when I first got out of auction school. I also worked farm sales and things like that.

“As I got older, I decided to leave my hometown and move to Texas where I worked for a company down there. I traveled Texas and parts of Oklahoma and Louisiana and worked with the Small Business Association and bankruptcy.”

The auction business has evolved over the years. What are some of the changes you’ve experienced over your career?

“When I started everything was hand clerked. We drew up our own ads sitting at the kitchen table. At 5 or 6 o’clock on the morning of the auction we would start bringing things out of the house and getting it ready to sell. As computers came in, technology kind of took over in the last 25 years, and things have evolved to where if you would have asked me 30 years ago, I would have said it would never happen.

“I’ve watched this industry change. There have been a lot of changes, just from technology, how things were done, and if someone would have said 30 years ago that I’d be selling equipment that’s 100 miles away on a screen, I would have said no way.

“Technology has made it very possible to do and to sell to international buyers and they’re sitting there clicking a button on their computer to bid; it’s scary, but it’s fun.

“I’ve enjoyed the business. It’s never been a job. It’s something I have always loved to do and it’s my passion.”

What are your favorite parts of the business?

“My favorite part is meeting different people from all walks of life, getting the opportunity to sell something that you only dream of, and in this business your dreams can come true. I just enjoy it. I enjoy meeting people.

“I’ve never been fortunate to meet a president, but I’ve been fortunate enough to meet senators and representatives and real professional businesspeople I never would meet if I were just in a regular walk of life. But if you’re selling something that’s unique and they collect it, they come out and bid. That’s the fun part. I’m a people person. I always have been and always will be.

“My favorite things to sell are equipment and real estate.”

What are some of the advantages you’ve experienced as a member of ISAA?

“The association, to me, is very important because of the networking that you do, the friends that you make. They are my huge extended family. There is nothing I wouldn’t do for them. If they called and said they were in a bind and needed help, I’ll go.

“Also, the things that you learn in this business, I call it the school of hard knocks, but I’ve learned so much from the guys that have been in the business 50 or 60 years. You still learn from the young folks coming in as well because they’re technology smart. So, you ask them questions such as what can I do here to make this better, make this easier.

“The younger folks will do the same with me or any of us. They’ll ask us how they can do this to make their life easier setting up a sale. I give them my idea, tell them this is what I do, and try it. If it works, continue, if it doesn’t work, try something different.

“That’s the thing about this auction industry. I have friends from the West Coast to the East Coast and in the middle, and I don’t know of any other industry that you can have that many friends and actually call them friends. Whenever they will say they’ll be on an airplane and be there, they’ll be there, and that means a lot.”

Tom Doran

Tom Doran

Field Editor