(FARM AND DAIRY) – Michael Baer, 18, has been on both sides of auctions.
He grew up in 4-H, selling market chickens and hogs each year at the Columbiana County Fair. But he also grew up working for his family’s business, Baer Auctioneers-Realty LLC, which sells at the auction at the Columbiana County Fair.
“It’s really cool, actually,” Baer said. “Sometimes, my dad would get to sell my 4-H animal.”
Now, he is set to be part of the fourth generation of auctioneers in the Baer family, which owns Rogers Community Auction and Flea Market in Rogers, Ohio.
Emmet Baer, an auctioneer, founded Rogers in 1955. His son and Michael’s grandfather, Jim Baer, eventually took it over as the second generation. Now, it is run by Baer’s father, Bill Baer, and uncles, Ken and Wade Baer.
“I’ve been a part of it my whole life, so really, I pretty much knew from the start that that’s what I wanted to do,” Michael Baer said. “It’s a lot of work, but it’s a lot of fun … Sometimes it doesn’t feel like you’re even at work.”
He started helping out at Saturday sales when he was about 12. He used to help hand out items or hold them up during the auction for buyers to see.
“The auction atmosphere at those sales — it’s just really a lot of fun,” he said.
By the time he started at Crestview High School, he knew he wanted to stick with it. At 16, he started working, doing maintenance and setting up or tearing down before and after auctions.
On a Wednesday in January, it was quieter at Rogers than it is on summer flea market days, but there was still work to do. They were getting ready for the January online consignment auction.
For online consignment sales, Baer helps unload items from a long, white trailer into a barn. Then, he and other workers tag and take pictures of each item to put online.
“The online stuff is really taking off now,” he said. “That’s what it’s all going to.”
They were also getting ready for their weekly hay sale. Baer pointed out the bales stacked in a pavilion, noting that hay often sells well in the winter. He helps set up and tear down for hay sales and other auctions.
In 2019, the same year he graduated from high school, Baer spent part of December at Reppert Auction School in Indianapolis.
“My whole family went there,” Baer said.
The program is 10 days long, with 13 hour-days. Students learn about the basics of auctioneering, and the laws and business principles auctioneers need to run their own business or continue someone else’s.
Since he grew up around the family business, Baer already knew most of the basic auctioneering the program went over, but the law and business ideas were new to him.
“There’s a lot that I think anybody can pretty much learn there, ’cause there’s a lot that you don’t realize when you’re not behind the desk in the office doing all the paperwork and contracts and everything for the sale,” he explained.
Baer graduated as part of Class 256 from the school, but he still has to pass two tests and spend a year apprenticing with another auctioneer.
His apprenticeship test is set for January 14. After he passes it, he will be able to apprentice for a year with his dad, and then can take a test to get the license.
Baer plans to stick with the family business. He is thinking about becoming a real estate agent too, someday, like many other auctioneers do.
For now, he is working at Rogers, setting up signs to advertise sales, helping with general maintenance and working on auctions, and getting ready to raise a market hog for his final year in 4-H.
He went to the Ohio Auctioneers Association’s annual conference for 2020 in early January for the first time, along with some of his family and other auctioneers who work with Baer Auctioneers-Realty. He hopes to eventually join the association, and possibly the National Auctioneers Association as well to get more involved with the business side of auctioneering.