Fast talk – Buckner & Gately Auction Service


                                                                                                                             Photo by Christy Porter
Buckner & Gately Auction staff at a sale held Saturday, from left: Carolyn Bell, Clerk; Carrie Edgar, Clerk and computer; Steve Buckner, Auctioneer; 
Pat Buckner, Registration, Payments and Cashier and Neal Gately, Auctioneer.
By Christy Porter
Managing Editor

Steve Buckner has been fast-talking for 47 years and his customers love it. But the dream started long before that. “I would go to the Licking Sale Barn with my grandparents as a child,” says Buckner. “I decided at four or five-years old that auctioneering was what I wanted to do.” Perhaps it was a childlike fascination but he thought it was just neat. He says with a smile, the “fast talk” or chanting is not difficult for him, he’s been practicing it all his life. While Buckner was driving a forklift at the sawmill in the late 70s, Bev Dreisel said with concern, “He’s talking as hard and as fast as he can, something is bad wrong.” To which Billy Joe replied, “No, he’s just auctioneering.”
Buckner graduated from Licking and worked at Town & Country Supermarket, a restaurant, a sawmill driving a forklift, a pallet mill and Rawlings factory. He did some of these jobs while still auctioneering on the weekends.
Buckner’s auctioneering career began in October 1973 when he sold a hog to get the money to go to the Kansas City, Mo., Auction School. He recalls his mother-in-law saying, “Don’t sell the hog, it’s worth more than the schooling.” That was not to be the case. He and Mike Clouse attended together, using Clouse’s truck for transportation and staying with Buckner’s dad during the week, coming home on the weekend. Buckner’s grandfather shared a story with Mel Porter at the Lucky Dollar Store, “Steve would auction off the light poles on the way home from auction school.” Nothing was safe from his passion for auctioneering. He continued to work at Rawlings and almost immediately started helping Glen Krewson and Paul Vestal at their auction sales.
When launching into his own business, he and Mike Clouse started together and then he worked with Krewson and Vestal, then just with Krewson. Buckner joined with Leroy Nixon and Aaron Cantrell and sale coordinators Bill and Katie Roberts who set the sales up on Thursday and Fridays for a Saturday sale date. Following that, he and Ervin Bontrager were a duo when Neal Gately joined them. Now Buckner and Gately keep the auction schedule.
Gately, who is from Edgar Springs, has been auctioneering with Buckner for 18-years of a 24-year career. And just to set the record straight, he is not Steve and Pat’s son, as often asked, although they all feel as if he could be. Gately also works full-time at the Missouri Veterans Home in St. James and raises Seminole Angus cattle. “I enjoy the people, there’s always something different and interesting at each auction,” comments Gately.
                                                                                                                         Photo by Christy Porter
Steve Buckner keeps the pace moving with his bid calling while Carolyn Bell keeps track of the bids. Neal Gately (bottom right) presents the items up for bids. Buckner and Gately relieve each other as necessary when bid calling.
It is good business to work with at least one other auctioneer so that the team may swap off during the course of the auction; usually after one to two hours of calling, they swap. With some auctions going for hours, average being 5 - 6 hours but as long as 12-hours, the auctioneer can lose his voice. Buckner recalls only one time losing his voice and not being able to talk; the auction lasted from 8 a.m. – 10 p.m. on a Saturday. On the way home he was speechless but by 1 p.m. Sunday he had gotten his voice back.
The Buckner family, including wife, Pat, his sons, Robbie and Rodney and numerous others, have been a part of Steve’s auction business. His wife, Pat, still has the responsibilities of registering bidders, handling payments and cashier. The boys would help but chose other career paths when the time came. At times Pat’s siblings are called in to help.
Buckner & Gately now try to stay in Texas and surrounding counties with their auctions. But in the past they have conducted them statewide. Their business is usually general estate, liquidation and farm, including land auctions, although they are qualified to do others. They share their talent with the community when doing benefit auctions initiated by community groups, such as the Licking Senior Center or family and friend groups raising money for unexpected expenses for loved ones in need. Buckner emphasizes that for these events, those sponsoring the sale do all the labor and they do the bid calling. “We enjoy the benefit auctions and getting to use our talent to help others,” says Gately.
There is usually an average three-week turnaround for an auction to take place. This includes the initial call, which is a time to visit, set the sale date, discuss pricing, advertising and commission and finally to do a preliminary inventory. Once those decisions are made, Buckner and Gately return to transport the inventory to the old Rawlings building on Cedar Street, unless the sale is being held at the owner’s location. A final inventory is done before the actual auction. Auctions are usually held on Saturdays. At times it is not uncommon for them to hold a sale every Saturday and be booked 8 -12-weeks in advance. Buckner requests that families “decide on family treasures and mementoes before the auction, to prevent any misunderstandings on auction day.”
In many ways Buckner is a “problem solver,” as one acquaintance told him. When parties involved have too much of a good thing, or too many treasures, it’s oftentimes comforting to know that those items are going to a home where they are wanted. His occupation also calls for good personal relation skills and being able to read people.
 One of the strangest items Buckner has ever auctioned was a wild rat in a box. It was not initially part of the inventory, but a woman wanted the rat and bid $25. Buckner said, “SOLD!” Buckner’s answer was yes, when asked if he has ever held an auction for any of the regular buyers at the auctions.
While there are tense moments at any auction, Buckner recalls one in particular that the tension was not due to anticipation of purchase but due to a skunk taking its daily promenade underneath the auction trailer, through the crowd and continuing down the road. No one was sprayed nor harmed. Whew.
Buckner thankfully recognizes, “We appreciate our customers in the Licking community and the surrounding area who have attended the auctions as buyers and those who choose an auction as the way to sell their collections and lifelong possessions.”
“All I ever wanted to do was auctioneer and ride horses. I have had a lot of fun and met a lot of good people,” says Buckner, who has no plans for retirement in the near future.

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