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Local auctioneer is world grand champion

By Paul Huggins 340-2395

Ten years ago Bryan Knox practically would have worked for free just to learn the art of auctioneering.

Friday, the auctioneer, who works in Decatur, earned $10,000 for less than five minutes labor selling a Global Positioning System, a computer and a leather briefcase.

That money was part of his prize for becoming the grand champion of the 2007 International Auctioneering Championship.

"I feel like I'm still walking in the clouds," Knox said.

"And it feels good to be able to bring this trophy to sweet home Alabama."

It was the first time an Alabama auctioneer won the industry's top prize.

The National Auctioneers Association started the competition in 1988.

Field of 93

Knox, 37, topped a field of 93 male auctioneers (women competed in a separate category) at the association's annual convention in San Diego.

He auditioned in three phases.

Competitors first had to sell three items where judges graded them on attributes such as appearance, command of audience, chant, clarity and eye contact.

The top 15 then went through interviews on stage as judges tested them to see whether they have the knowledge, charisma and poise to serve as the industry's ambassador for a year.

The top 15 then returned to the stage and sold three more items before the judges.

In addition to the cash prize, Knox won a trophy, a ring, and, more importantly, name recognition in a $257 billion industry.

"The recognition from the award itself will get you offers to do auctions all across the world," he said. "Basically when we win this, it becomes a lifelong thing."

Last year's male and female winners appeared on the "Today Show" and spoke regularly at seminars as far away as South Africa.

Knox, who can only win the title once, hopes the recognition means an invitation to the Barrett-Jackson Classic Car Auction in Scottsdale, Ariz., in January. It is the premier event for auctioneers, he said, and it brings him back to his roots in the business.

The Gardendale resident said he always wanted to be an auctioneer and one day 10 years ago, he made up his mind to pay Cullman Auto Auction a call.

"I told them I'd be willing to work for whatever they could pay me for the chance to learn. They hired me on the spot," he said.

Nowadays, Knox uses his talents for AmeriSouth in Decatur, part of Gateway Commercial Brokerage. His specialty is real estate.

Effective auctioneers can make a huge difference in sales, Knox said, citing a building he sold recently for $100,000 more than the owner imagined. It had been on the market for three years. Knox sold it in 20 minutes.

Chris Longly, spokesman for the NAA, said Knox definitely has the people skills to be an ambassador.

Also a pastor

"What amazed me is he's pastored a church for three years," Longly said. "That says a lot about him because that takes a lot of time and auctioning is a demanding schedule with lots of travel."

Knox is pastor of Cornerstone Church of Mount Olive, which has an 80-member congregation in Jefferson County.

Knox won the auctioneering state championship in 2001 and had tried twice previously to win the international prize. He said he prepared himself by doing as many live auctions as he could as well as vocal exercises to improve his tone and clarity.

"I don't want to say I was overly confident this year, but I was extremely comfortable," he said. "I made my mind up this year instead of being so uptight and wanting to do well, I was just going to have fun and enjoy myself."

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