Jake Cheechov: Oregon auctioneers name a champion

September 26, 2003

By Craig Reed Capital Press

Jake Cheechov's business, Pacific Industrial Auctions of Sutherlin, Ore., specializes in organizing big equipment sales. Cheechov recently captured the Oregon Auctioneers Association's state championship.

SUTHERLIN, OR — Jake Cheechov literally found his calling while working as a youngster in the corrals behind the Creswell, Ore., auction ring.

Fifteen years ago, at age 13, Cheechov and his other young working buddies, while directing livestock toward the front, would imitate the auctioneer who was working the ring. Several years later, Cheechov had worked his way out of the corrals and behind a microphone, becoming a full-time professional auctioneer in 1995 at age 20.

Now 28, Cheechov's auction chant was judged to be smooth and appealing and he captured grand champion honors at the 2003 Oregon Bid-Calling Competition held in Salem. It was the 17th annual state competition sponsored by the Oregon Auctioneers Association and Marion County 4-H.

A panel of five judges, who are auctioneers themselves, judged seven contestants who each made a bid for the state crown by auctioning three items, such as pies and quilts. The contestants were judged on their appearance and poise, body language and eye contact with the crowd, and the clarity, speed and rhythm of their chant.

Rick Leathers of Sandy, Ore., finished second and Mickey Meredyth of Oregon City, Ore., was third.

"Now I'm eager to go to the international auction event."

Cheechov's state championship qualified him for the National Auctioneers Association's International Auctioneer Championship next July 16 in Madison, Wis.

Becoming the Oregon state auctioneer champion certainly wasn't any kind of goal for the young auctioneer because a month prior to the event he wasn't even a member of the Oregon Auctioneers Association. He decided to join because he'd been told the OAA had a good website and that member auctioneers and their auction sales were promoted on the site.

Cheechov and his fiancee and business partner Amy Courtney own Pacific Industrial Auctions of Sutherlin, Ore., and Cheechov wanted to spread the word about his year-old business that specializes in big equipment sales. When he signed up for OAA, he was told of the state competition that was only about three weeks later.

"To be honest with you, I was more after the constructive criticism they said I'd get on a written sheet," Cheechov said of the state event. "I wanted to know where I was good and bad."

The competition emphasizes the importance of the auctioneer as an effective marketing specialist and Cheechov earned top marks.

The 2003 champion's first exposure to an auction yard came when he was 4 and accompanied his grandfather to the Wednesday sales at the Dixon Livestock Auction in central California. Several years later as a young teenager he started working in the back at the Creswell yard.

His first microphone work came while a senior at Creswell High School in 1993. Each senior was required to do a community project and Cheechov decided to organize and auctioneer a senior class auction. He solicited donated items and then auctioned them off, raising $870 for the school's senior class.

"I was pretty nervous, but I'd done public speaking in 4-H and FFA," Cheechov said of his first auctioneering work. "After that sale, at least 50 people told me I'd done a good job and that they thought I had a natural chant."

So the Creswell graduate used some scholarship money he had earned and attended the Western College of Auctioneering in Billings, Mont.

"Like a lot of seniors, I wasn't sure what I wanted to do," he said. "I figured after going to (auctioneering) school, I could work auctions and go to school part-time."

After completing the auctioneering courses, he combined working at auctions and attending Oregon State University in Corvallis, Ore., for two years. He left OSU in 1995 and became a full-time auctioneer that year.

Since then he has worked at the Eugene Livestock Auction in Eugene, Ore., the Northwest Auto Auction in Eugene, the Cascade Auto Auction in Portland, and then for two years was the auctioneer and general manager of the Roseburg Livestock Auction until it closed in May, 2002.

He and Courtney started Pacific Industrial Auctions later that same year.

"We had moderate success in our first year," he said.

Cheechov said his preference is to work at livestock auctions, but he explained that there's less livestock available for auction and there's more money in big equipment.

"One of my favorite things in the whole world is to crawl behind a mike and sell cattle all day," he said. "It's a rapid environment, selling 600 to 700 head in five to six hours. Unfortunately, there aren't the big sale barns there used to be because there are multi-marketing options for livestock people.

"There's always equipment to be bought, though, and always enough buyers."

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