BLOOMINGTON, Ill. — Renee Jones was reelected Illinois State Auctioneers Association president at the organization’s 74th annual conference Feb. 11-13.
Jones leads National Fundraising Solutions, a firm based in Cook County that specializes in fundraising event services and management. During her 29-year career as an industry leader, she has managed and sold over $6 billion of real estate and tangible assets.
She is a life member of the National Auctioneers Association, has served two terms on its board of directors and served as chairman of the Education Trustees, which is responsible for all of the organization’s educational programs.
As a graduate of the Certified Auctioneer Institute sponsored by the NAA at Indiana University, her accomplishments include Certified Estate Specialist, Benefit Auction Specialist and Accredited Auctioneer of Real Estate. She is also a Certified Machinery and Technical Support Appraiser.
“We have to make sure we keep the cutting-edge technology, which becomes more affordable every day, but at the same time we still want that human contact and relationships with our customers and sellers alike.”— Renee Jones, Illinois State Auctioneers Association president
Jones has held executive or board positions for the following government agencies and trade organizations: Texas Department of Licensing and Regulation, American Society of Appraisers and Texas Auctioneers Association.
An internationally acclaimed professional speaker, she lectures on a variety of topics, from auction marketing, operations and how to provide a concierge level of service to sellers and buyers alike. She has spoken at more than 38 state auctioneer association conventions, conferences and seminars.
She earned a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice at Texas Woman’s University and attended Missouri Auction School for her auctioneer certification. Her education also includes Certified Auctioneers Institute, Indiana University; Certified Estate Specialist, graduate and instructor; Benefit Auction Specialist, graduate, instructor and program co-author; and Accredited Auctioneer of Real Estate, graduate.
“I am incredibly blessed to lead the Illinois State Auctioneers Association and I will be their president through February 2023. They extended my term as president,” Jones said.
“We’ve gone through some bylaw changes and the membership voted to allow me to continue on the platform to increase the growth of our membership, to continue to represent all licensed auctioneers in Illinois, and also our continued commitment to protect the residents of Illinois, as well.”
During a break at the convention prior to the start of the fun auction, Jones discussed the organization and her additional year as its leader.
How have the efforts to increase membership been going and what are your thoughts on the convention?
“We’re doing very well. We did hold our convention last year in person. It was dialed back considerably. We did have some remote educational opportunities for our members, as well. But as with all businesses and conventions and things like that, our convention numbers were down.
“We have doubled in size for this year’s convention, which I believe having it in Bloomington-Normal helps because it’s a centralized location, very welcoming to people from all four corners of our state.
“It’s nice also because we’re in what we call a continuing education year. So, the ISAA will send instructors to different regions throughout the state to ensure that all licensees meet their requirements to continue to hold their licenses with the State of Illinois.
“We are the educational resources and, as president I lead the charge to provide those educational curriculums and keep all auctioneers up to date on what’s happening in Springfield and around the world.”
Looking ahead to this year, what goals have you set in your role as ISAA president?
“Goals are enhancing our technology to be able to offer online educational opportunities for members and nonmembers, having even a bigger convention here in Bloomington-Normal next year and also membership growth.
“We will continue our membership program and outreach to where we’re connecting seasoned veterans in the auction and real estate industry with those that are coming in as the next generation of tradesmen and professionals that are going to be carrying the torch and assisting generations to come here in Illinois.”
How has the pandemic impact your auction business?
“Every hour of every day we get different information, misinformation, changes of policy, mask mandates, no mask mandates and all of those things. When the pandemic first hit, the auction industry was hit just like so many other small businesses with questions and concerns, and even in Illinois, based on geographic location of the auction company being able to conduct onsite auctions in some rural areas were never restricted.
“But for me as a resident of Lake County and I work primarily in Cook, McHenry and Lake counties, it negatively impacted my business, basically shut it down for over a year. So, with that we did look to technology to be able to start working, but everyone that’s attended an auction knows that it’s not just the auction that they come to see. They come to inspections, and those were restricted or there we no inspections.
“So, we have this training that happened through the Amazons or the Wayfarers of the world where before most people would go to a furniture store and sit down on that couch and determine if they like that couch, but now people buy things without touching them, seeing them, laying down on them. So, that did help us in the online auction industry to sell personal property, estates, business liquidations and things like that.
“A wheelbarrow is a wheelbarrow, so they didn’t have to come touch it, but we lost that element of fellowship and communication, and it became a little bit colder.
“I hope with all of my heart that live auctions will come back. I think that they will and have already in the rural areas, but in metropolitan areas in what I call indoor auctions, I think we’re going to take a little bit more time to ensure personal safety for customers and staff alike.
“We’re fortunate to have the technology, but one of the reasons why I actually got into the auction industry was to have that human contact, and so when it’s taken away from me just as it is for others, we miss it and I don’t know how to fill that void yet.
“It’s a community event and it serves a purpose because auctions are the most transparent and ethical way to sell any kind of asset. It’s competitive bidding and unlike estate sales we’re licensed, we’re regulated by the state, we’re insured, we’re bonded, and it’s competitive bidding, not first come, first serve.
“We have to make sure we keep the cutting-edge technology, which becomes more affordable every day, but at the same time we still want that human contact and relationships with our customers and sellers alike.”