RUPERT — Most people attending an auction can pick out the current bid price being called and what the auctioneer wants to see next in a bid, but what are they saying in between?
“We use filler words to make the rhythm sound right,” Auctioneer Kade Rogge said. “The rhythm is everything and no two chants are the same, they’re like fingerprints.”
He should know, Rogge, 29, of Rupert, won the 2017 Northwest Auctioneer Contest in Boise on Sunday.
His next goal is winning the World Livestock Auctioneer Championship next summer.
Although he is used to talking in front of crowds, being in front of the judges is nerve-wracking.
“I think I get nervous because I’m performing in front of my peers. The public won’t generally notice if you make a little bumble,” Rogge said.
During the competition, auctioneers are judged on their chant and things like body language and eye contact.
One of his faults, noted on the score cards, was that he tends to point.
“Pointing makes people feel uncomfortable,” he said.
Although most people think auctioning is fast talk, Rogge said, it isn’t. A lot of work goes into to developing the right flow that will keep an auction moving, and people bidding, while throwing in a bit of entertainment for the crowd.
Most auctioneers still in the learning phase have to work to slow their speech down, he said, and for many, the chant evolves over time.
“I’ve completely torn down my chant four or five times and rebuilt it,” he said.
Today he intersperses the have price and the want price with the sounds “daughternow,” he said, while always keeping the next price in his mind.
The most challenging thing that can happen to an auctioneer during a sale is having the bidding increments “change on the fly,” Rogge said.
“That really throws off your rhythm”, he said.
Rogge, who went to auctioneer school to learn the craft, had some natural talent. His father, Ron Rogge, is also an auctioneer, and the younger Rogge grew up at Burley Livestock, owned by his stepfather, Merv May.
“He was always around auctions,” Ron Rogge said.
Rogge and his father, who won a state auctioneer title in 2005, operate Rogge Auctions out of Declo.
But, Ron Rogge said, his son didn’t make the choice to becoming an auctioneer until he was out of the house.
“I thought he was burned out with it,” he said.
Rogge, who grew up competing in rodeos, is also a rodeo announcer.
Finding work as an auctioneer can be tricky because everyone wants someone experienced for their sale, that experience can be hard to get.
Selling cattle is an advanced auction skill.
“It’s important to know the job and do it well,” he said. In farm sales, you have to know what the equipment is worth.
Over the years he’s also learned that he has to take care of his voice, which provides his livelihood. A cold that causes a raspy throat could cost him a job.
“I take a lot of vitamin C,” he said. “I’ve really learned the importance of taking care of myself.”