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VJV auctioneers have the gift of gab

“Mom thought I was at school all day but I was out playing hookie with my grandfather.” Auctioneer Shawn Gist
VJV auctioneer Shawn Gist was the winner at Canadian Livestock Auctioneer Championship recently in Regina

The rhythmic chant of a livestock auctioneer is a staple sound at the VJV Auction Mart every Wednesday, but not many people realize that some of those auctioneers are world-renowned for their abilities.

Most recently, auctioneer Shaw Gist won the Canadian Livestock Auctioneer Championship in Regina, Sask. He is now the sixth champion auctioneer from VJV Auction Mart. These auctioneers have the gift of selling cattle using the quick calls buyers associate with an auction.

Gist says ever since he was a young boy, auctioneering was a profession he wanted to follow. “I actually started going (to VJV) when I was two years old with my grandfather.”

“Mom thought I was at school all day but I was out playing hookie with my grandfather,” Gist remembered fondly.

His mother would turn a blind eye to his transgressions as she could see he had “the bug” and knew that was all Gist wanted to do. Years later, Gist attended the Western College of Auctioneering in Billings, Montana. He said he took an intense three week course and then started out at VJV Auction Mart as a cattle sorter.

The trick to winning the award? Gist says an auctioneer has to know the product they are selling, the clients he is selling to and he has to be able to keep buyers interested. It is a skill Gist says is not for everybody.

“It’s a pretty big deal to be the best for the year,” he stated.

Gist is heading to the International Livestock Auctioneer Championship in Calgary in July of this year. He represents the Livestock Markets Association of Canada and looks forward to the challenge.

He has been at the auction mart for the last 13 years and credits past winner and co-worker Dan Skeels, who not only won the Canadian championship but also the International Auctioneer Championship and the World Livestock Auctioneer Championship where participants come from the United States and Australia to compete.

Skeels is the only Canadian to have the World Championship under his belt and one of a few to win the triple-crown. He too has some bragging rights this year. Skeels was invited to the first Masters Championship where former winners, who can only win once, have the opportunity to compete against past-winners.

His skills earned him a win.

“It’s just like the (golf) Masters. They give you a green jacket,” Skeels stated.

Skeels said the trick for any good auctioneer is knowing how to get buyers to keep bidding. “My job is to make you give a little more.”

VJV Market owner Blair Vold hired Skeels in 1989 where he started in a similar position as Gist, sorting cattle. Since becoming an auctioneer, Skeels has found the right balance of rhythm, voice control, crowd interaction and ensuring a sale goes smoothly.

“We’ve had huge success here and they’ve (VJV Auction Mart owners) been so good promoting us,” said Skeels.

Blair Vold said he has always felt a strong auctioneer is key to a good price for producers and he said Skeels has been an important part of that success.

“Danny’s our veteran leader and auctioneer. He’s been a mentor to a lot of them,” said Vold.

He also praised Gist for being of the same calibre. “He (Gist) works hard for his job.”

This is Gist’s first Canadian championship but he has also received reserve champion other years.