Hamilton County Herald – A match made on the auction block

A match made on the auction block

Holt’s quest for bargain furniture leads to love, thriving business

Steve Holt was calling an auction in Colorado Springs in 1992 when he spotted a woman unlike any he’d ever seen.

A well-fed Colorado boy raised in the auction business, Holt stood tall on the block as he sold furniture to the highest bidders. Accustomed to cowboy hats, belt buckles and starched jeans, when he saw the young lady with the big hair, make-up and bedazzle, he fumbled his words.

“The only time I became tongue-tied while doing an auction was when that Southern belle walked in,” Holt says.

The Southern belle was Paige Hutcheson, a 21-year-old spitfire from Tennessee. A recent transplant to Colorado Springs, she was there to buy furniture for her new apartment. But when she walked into the auction house, she found love, as well.

Today, the former Miss Hutcheson is Paige Holt, wife and mother of three. She’s also the majority owner of Compass Auctions & Real Estate, a regional company headquartered in Chattanooga.

It’s a job that keeps Paige busy, to put it lightly. “I’m not familiar with the 40-hour work week,” she explains. Her phone dings, announcing the arrival of text message number 17,001. (This is no exaggeration; there are over 17,000 texts on her phone.)

Paige is, however, familiar with the ins and outs of running an auction company – and it involves more than standing on the block and calling for bids.

“Auctioneering is a true profession. You’re dealing with people’s assets, and you have a responsibility to manage them appropriately,” she says. “Then you have the back end, which is accounting, marketing, booking the labor and so on.”

As an auctioneer, Paige also works with bankers, attorneys and government entities daily. “Then I’ll be helping a family that’s mourning a heart-breaking loss, so I deal with a broad spectrum of people with different needs,” she adds.

All of this might sound par for the course for the owner of an auction company, but Compass is no ordinary auction firm.

Paige and Steve formed Compass in 2010 at their kitchen table. They held their first auction – a consignment auction for heavy equipment – in a rain-soaked field in Soddy Daisy. “We decided to roll it out and put it in God’s hands,” Paige remembers.

The auction went well. Afterward, Paige and her husband realized they had stumbled onto a niche market and started working to develop it. Thirty days after their maiden auction in Soddy Daisy, they landed a contract with TVA to sell the equipment the company used to build the Sequoyah Nuclear Plant.

“We were one of the first companies after 9/11 to hold a live auction at an active nuclear plant,” Paige says.

Word spread quickly, and each year since 2010, Compass has not just doubled the amount of business it’s doing but also grown in size. What began at a kitchen table now includes a 50,000 square-foot warehouse in Chattanooga, additional locations in Lebanon, Nashville and Western Kentucky plus a small but productive staff.

With its focus on government surplus, heavy equipment, vehicles and land, Compass owns the bragging rights to several major transactions, including the auctioning off of a state-owned property on James Robertson Parkway in downtown Nashville for $8.9 million.

Compass also unloaded Stein Construction’s fleet of excavators, dozers, backhoes, trucks and other equipment as the Chattanooga builder closed its doors after 105 years in business.

That project, however, was a cakewalk compared to the time the company emptied a packed 82,000-square-foot warehouse in Atlanta in two days.

Along the way, Compass has often had to innovate on the fly. When faced with the prospect of auctioning off and moving a 60-ton vertical mill, for example, Paige and her team commissioned a 30-ton crane with overhead rigging to remove it and place it on the transport.

Then there were the trains Paige auctioned off. “I don’t wake up every morning and say, ‘I’m going to auction off a locomotive today,’” she offers, “but that happened.”

The next day, Paige auctioned off two locomotives.

“We experience something new every day, so every day is a new adventure,” Paige adds. “It gets me up in the morning and keeps me motivated.”

Compass was also one of the first auction companies in the Southeast to do live webcasts with online bidding, which broadened their geographic reach and enabled them to sell hundreds of lots during a single auction.

A woman in a man’s world

As each new building block in Paige and Steve’s business was cemented into place, one thing became more and more apparent: Paige was operating in what has traditionally been a man’s world – a realm of industrial tools, big machines and egos to match.

“A lot of people think of an auctioneer as a man,” Paige says. “Only 16 percent of the auctioneers who belong to the National Auctioneers Association are women. In the areas of government and industrial surplus, it’s even less than that. “That makes it difficult for women to break into this industry.”

Even though the odds were against her, Paige has broken through her industry’s glass ceiling to become not only a successful female auctioneer but the owner of the only Women’s Business Enterprise certified woman-owned real estate auction entity in Tennessee.

Regardless, Paige has encountered skepticism from male clients, who are generally unaccustomed to doing business with a woman. On one occasion, a client at a farmer’s auction was selling a large piece of equipment he was certain would fetch the full retail price, despite the item being heavily used.

“People sometimes become attached to their belongings, and the perceived value versus the actual value differs,” Paige explains.

As Paige tried to correct the man, he continually talked over her and brushed her aside. The issue was not chauvinism, Paige says, but his lack of experience with female auctioneers.

“A lot of people look at me and assume I don’t know anything because I’m short, blonde and have a Southern accent,” Paige acknowledges. “I overcome those misconceptions by educating myself and then winning people over.”

As the auctioneer, Paige had done her homework and was prepared to talk knowledgeably about the equipment. But instead of asserting herself in an aggressive manner, she simply stepped up and presented the facts:

“Gentlemen, this is a D8 crawler with an S-Blade and Ripper,” she said. “The dozer undercarriage is at 30 percent and the track is at 50 percent, so it’s not going to bring in $50,000. This is a $22,000 piece of equipment.”

Thank you, ladies and gentleman, and goodnight.

After Paige explained the value of the equipment based on its specs and condition, the man’s attitude did a one-eighty. “It’s about integrity and education,” Paige continues. “Ever since he saw that I’m capable and experienced, we’ve had a great working relationship.’’

It also helped that the piece of equipment sold for precisely what Paige predicted.

“I don’t beat around the bush,” she says. “You probably won’t like some of the things I say, but you’ll appreciate them when you’re on the other side of an auction because they’re going to save you a lot of headaches.”

Steve says that while the auction industry has been a man’s world, the advent of online auctions has allowed more women to become a part of the industry and impact it in positive ways.

“Our industry has become softer and more informative because women are more detail-oriented than men,” he adds.

By “softer,” Steve does not mean “less skilled.” An award-winning auctioneer, he rates his wife higher as an auctioneer than she rates herself. “Paige has more talent than she knows,” he says.

Paige has proven her mettle on the block, and not just by selling locomotives. Having her available for auctions has allowed Compass to make considerable headway into the charity world.

Paige enjoys serving as an auctioneer at fundraisers. “I like helping them raise more money,” she says. “Some charities work for a year or more to plan for one night, and then they hire a local celebrity to handle the bidding for their auction. While it’s great to have a celebrity on stage, an auctioneer is the one person who has the ability to bring in more revenue.”

Paige isn’t joking about being able to use her auctioneering skills to raise money for a nonprofit. Once, while handling the bidding for a March of Dimes fundraiser, she passed a hat and around the room and had everyone drop in a little cash. Paige then auctioned off the hat, convinced the winner to donate it back to March of Dimes and then sold it again.

She had re-sold the hat several times during the auction and raised an extra $16,000.

Paige is proud of what she’s accomplished with Compass, not because it elevates her in the eyes of others but because she’s thrilled to be paving the pathway for more women to enter the auction industry.

“Women are learning that they don’t have to go into the medical, banking, or legal field to be successful,” she points out. “They can make something of themselves outside of the traditional sphere of job offers. That’s exciting.”

Life before Compass

Paige may have grown up to be a trailblazer, but there was nothing extraordinary about her childhood, although it did provide her with a rich tapestry of good memories.

Paige was born and raised in Bledsoe County, which she describes as “a beautiful place with many great people.”

“We would wander through town, ride bicycles through the neighborhoods, or ride motorcycles on our grandparents’ farm,” she remembers. “If we ever stepped out of line, our parents knew about it before we made it home.”

Family time consisted of trail rides, four-wheeling through the mountains and bonfires. Paige never thought about how she enjoyed the things boys typically did; she just jumped in and had fun.

Paige’s first memories of the auction world are tied to her grandparents, who took her to the stockyard auctions when she was 4. She remembers loving the fried apple pies and fresh pork rinds.

The entrepreneurial spirit ran as deep through her family as the waters that ran through Fall Creek Falls, where she and her siblings would swim in the summer. Paige’s parents owned convenience stores, beauty shops, car dealerships and more, and aunts and uncles on both sides of her family ran auction firms.

Paige’s parents expected her to contribute to the family businesses. “I had to work when I was younger,” she recalls. “That instilled a strong work ethic in me.”

After graduating from high school, Paige entered the paralegal program at Chattanooga State in the hopes of finding work within the “traditional sphere of job offers” for women. Then, not long before she had earned enough credits to graduate, she took a life-changing trip to Colorado.

Paige didn’t know she was about to take a hard right turn in life as she headed west; she was simply going to visit friends. But once there, she loved it enough to stay.

“I was 21 and ready for a change. I had an adventurous spirit and I wanted to see and experience something different,” she recounts. “So, I called my mom and said, ‘I have an apartment. Would you bring my car to me?’ I wasn’t afraid to hit the gas and go.”

After recovering from the shock, Paige’s mom drove her daughter’s car to Colorado. Then the pair hit the local thrift shops and auction houses to furnish Paige’s apartment.

A month to the day after Paige arrived in Colorado, she purchased a carved ivory side table with a glass top at an auction house. But that’s not the only thing she picked up; that was also the day she met Steve.

“Mom kept elbowing me in the ribs and telling me he was cute. I was looking for a job, so she asked him if he knew anyone, and he asked for my phone number,” Paige adds. “We got married one year later.”

Since nearly none of the credits Paige had earned at Chattanooga State would transfer to a Colorado school, she skipped finishing her degree and went to work.

After leasing apartments for a short time, she took a job with the district attorney in Colorado Springs, then the entrepreneurial bug bit her and she started providing concessions for auction houses.

As Paige and Steve settled into their life together, their entrepreneurial ambitions grew. Paige went from running a concessions business to launching a real estate investment company with her husband. She and Steve then opened a powersport and tractor dealership.

The couple also had three kids. When they moved to Tennessee in 2007 to be close to Paige’s family, they brought the real estate investment company with them.

After taking a few years to settle into their new life, Paige and Steve sat down at their kitchen table and founded Compass. She became the majority owner with 51 percent of the company, while Steve received the remaining 49 percent, making Compass a rare breed in the auction world.

Life today

While Paige has the strength and fortitude of a pioneer woman, she still struggles with the same issues other business owners face.

In addition to managing a company, Paige has maintained a household and raised three kids, often on her own. “Steve is gone 75 percent of the time,” she estimates. “He did 172 auctions last year – while we had an active business and three kids in school.”

With this in mind, Paige says the biggest obstacle she’s encountered hasn’t been gaining respect of her male peers but finding a balance between running a growing company and taking care of her family.

“That’s been hard,” she says, her face tightening slightly. “I’ve discovered that achieving a balance is a myth. Most days, it’s about surviving the chaos.”

Paige wouldn’t trade the chaos for an easier life, though. To do that, she would have to discard a big part of who she’s become. “Compass is not just a job or business to us; it’s a lifestyle. We eat, sleep and breathe for our industry and truly invest our whole selves in it.”

Steve is proud of Paige and even more impressed with her today than he was the day she walked into his auction and made him fumble his words. Without dropping any syllables, he describes her as being “dedicated to her staff, committed to her clients and tenacious in all things.”

Steve adds her greatest asset, however, is her flexibility. “When we did the auctions in Soddy, she would come out in mud boots, a ball cap and a pair of jeans,” he recalls. “She still does that today, then she changes into a dress and goes to a benefit auction. She’ll get in the mud with us and then be the belle of the ball.”

Paige is simply pleased to be living a life that’s unique and offers value to others. “I’m proud to be a woman auctioneer,” she says. “It takes a certain amount of wherewithal to go to toe-to-toe with the major players in the industry, but I have a job to do, and if I’m not capable of doing it, then I’m not going to move forward and neither is this company.”

And neither, some might argue, would her industry.

 

COMPASS CLOSES 41 PARCELS FOR $3.2 MILLION

The Compass Real Estate Team is pleased to announce the closing of 41 parcels near Turner Field Stadium for a total of $3.2 million.  The 41 parcels of land equating to 203,629 square feet or 4.67 acres located between Hank Aaron Drive SE and Georgia Avenue SE in Atlanta, Fulton County, Georgia.  The project is one of more than 26 assets entrusted to Compass Auctions & Real Estate to list and sell on behalf of the Federal Deposit Insurance Commission (FDIC).  Compass, with offices in Nashville, Chattanooga, Western Kentucky and Atlanta works closely with Special Assets Consultant T. Kyle Swicegood, CCIM to assist in the disposition of assets nationwide.

The Turner Field Development was assigned to Project Manager Justin Ochs, VP of National Development for Compass.  Ochs worked diligently with FDIC officers over the past several months to identify potential developmental concerns, work through legal issues and effectively transfer the parcels back into the public’s hands.  Additionally, Ochs conducted an exhaustive search through specially designed marketing techniques to identify cash buyers who could overcome any potential concerns, and compete to purchase the property.

Turner Field has served as the home ballpark for the MLB Atlanta Braves since 1997. In November of 2013, the Atlanta Braves announced that they would be leaving Turner Field for a newly built ballpark named SunTrust Park located in Cobb County in the northwest suburbs outside Atlanta. The Atlanta Braves will played their final regular season game at Turner Field on October 2, 2016 versus the Detroit Tigers.

In November 2013, the mayor of Atlanta, Kasim Reed, announced that the Turner Field stadium and surrounding parking lots would be up for sale and redeveloped after the Braves season ends in 2016. Georgia State University expressed interest in the site in April 2014, and in December 2015, the Atlanta Fulton County Recreation Authority announced Georgia State University along with local developer Carter, submitted the winning bid for the Turner Field property. Georgia State University (GSU) is a public university located in downtown Atlanta. It was founded in 1913 and has approximately 54,000 students with 43,000 being undergraduates. In 2015, the Georgia State football team, the Panthers, had an average home attendance of approximately 10,400 fans.

The assets were listed and sold by Team Compass for a total of $3,200,000.  FDIC Officers and Asset Managers have been extremely pleased with the performance of properties listed across the state of Georgia by the Compass Real Estate Team.

Image may contain: 4 people, people smiling, people standing, tree, outdoor and nature

Justin Ochs, M.S., CAI

VP of National Development

Compass Auctions & Real Estate

(615) 507-5984

jochs@soldoncompass.com

By Justin Ochs |

Compass Closes 41 Parcels for $3.2 Million #RealEstate

#REALESTATE

CADIZ AUCTIONEER COMPLETES YEAR 1 OF INDUSTRY’S TOP DESIGNATION

Joshua Abner completes year one at the Certified Auctioneers Institute –
the auction profession’s premiere education program.

Cadiz, Kentucky 3/25/2016 – Cadiz auctioneer Josh Abner, of Compass Auctions & Real Estate, recently completed his first year of courses at the prestigious Certified Auctioneers Institute (CAI). The CAI program is the industry’s premier training program developed by the National Auctioneers Association (NAA) for auction professionals.

The three-year CAI designation program provides auction professionals the opportunity to earn the auction industry’s most respected professional designation. CAI is an intensive, executive development program offering professional auctioneers instruction and coursework in business management, ethics, communication, finance, strategic planning and marketing.

The NAA conducts CAI every year in March at Indiana University in Bloomington. CAI candidates join auctioneers from across the world to learn from some of the nation’s most distinguished and respected leaders in the auction industry.

As of February 2016, there were approximately 900 current CAI designation holders in the world.

Compass Auctions & Real Estate Western Kentucky Division Auctioneer Josh Abner provides professional value driven service with an industry leading competitive edge for all of your real estate, estate liquidation, land, equipment, and fund raising auction needs.

Josh Abner resides in Cadiz with wife Brooke Abner. To learn more about Abner, please call 270-839-3136, email jabner@soldoncompass.com or visit www.soldoncompass.com.

For more information on CAI, its history and its standing as the premiere training program for auction professionals, contact the NAA at (913) 541-8084 or visit www.auctioneers.org.

About Compass Auctions & Real Estate

Compass Auctions & Real Estate’s mission is to serve our clients by providing an accelerated marketing campaign in combination with a competitive bidding platform allowing assets to achieve their greatest value in the shortest amount of time possible. With office locations in Western Kentucky, Chattanooga, Lebanon, and Nashville, Tennessee, and Atlanta, Georgia, Compass offers a host of services to the Southeastern region and Nationwide. With over 29 years of experience our Team of Professionals are available to assist you with exceptional service and proven results.

About the National Auctioneers Association
The National Auctioneers Association represents thousands of Auctioneers from the U.S. and across the world. The mission of the NAA is to provide critical resources to auction professionals that will enhance their skills and successes. The NAA’s headquarters are in Overland Park, Kan., and it was founded in 1949.

By Justin Ochs | Published April 5, 2016
Cadiz Auctioneer Completes Year 1 of Industry’s Top Designation

TVA HOUSEHOLD FURNITURE ONLINE AUCTION WITH LIVE SIMULCAST JANUARY 7TH

For the first time ever offered in the Southeastern United States, Compass Auctions & Real Estate will be offering over 300 lots of household furniture items from the Tennessee Valley Authority via a Live Simulcast Auction.  Register to bid now atSoldOnCompass.com for an outstanding selection of household items including but not limited to:

  • Complete Bedroom Sets
  • Name Brand Washers & Dryers
  • Microwaves
  • Refrigerators
  • Televisions
  • Beautiful Range Top Ovens
  • HVAC Heat & Air Units
  • Fitness Equipment

Pre-bidding is now available!  Team Compass is making it very easy to win the items of your choice with our online pre-bidding system.  Simply register to bid, leave a max bid on your desired lots, and allow our system to bid for you during the Live Simulcast Auction on January 7th.

If you prefer the excitement and competition of a live auction, be sure to join us online Wednesday, January 7th at 10:00 a.m. EST for the Live Simulcast portion of this auction.  Register and bid live as we offer each lot via live online.  Don’t miss out on this great opportunity to own great name brands like  Thomasville, Maytag, GE, Kenmore, Frigidaire, Keiser, Paramount, Insignia and more!

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Go To Auction – Click Here↑

Justin Ochs, M.S., CAI
Principal Broker/Auctioneer
Compass Auctions & Real Estate
Nashville Division
SoldOnCompass.com
By Justin Ochs |

CITY OF CHATTANOOGA VEHICLE SURPLUS

COMPASS AUCTIONS OFFERS ONLINE AUCTION FOR CITY OF CHATTANOOGA VEHICLE SURPLUS

Compass Auctions Offers Online Auction for Chattanooga City Vehicle Surplus

For Immediate Release

Compass Auctions & Real Estate proudly announces the online offering of surplus vehicles for the City of Chattanooga. The online auction, being held at SoldonCompass.com, will run from 8/18/2014 until 9/18/2014 closing at 10:00 a.m. EDT.

 

The offering includes:
-(2) 2012 Ford F350 Super Duty 4WD Trucks with less than 100 miles each
-(2) Crown Victoria Police Interceptors
-(3) 2012 VW Passat TDI Diesels with less than 2,000 miles each
-(5) Ford F150′s
-(2) Ford Explorer’s
-(1) Ford Taurus
– Motorola Radios
– Wheel Sets

 

 

To learn more about these vehicles please visit SoldonCompass.com, or call our Corporate Office at (423) 702-6180. Call to consign now for our monthly online auction of Government and Municipality Surplus.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Compass Auctions & Real Estate is a full service company with specific divisions devoted to providing clients unparalleled service in regards to real estate transactions, benefit auctions, online and simulcast platforms, industrial, farm and heavy equipment asset re-marketing.

 

Justin Ochs, M.S., CAI
Principal Broker/Auctioneer
Compass Auctions & Real Estate
Nashville Division

COMPASS REAL ESTATE SELLS ZIPS GAS STATION FOR $1.31 MILLION

Compass Real Estate Sells Zips Gas Station for $1.31 Million

Lebanon, TN (4/29/2014) – Compass Real Estate is excited to announce the closing of the Zips Gas Station located at 1137 Castle Heights Ave in Lebanon, TN.  This property is one of more than 25 properties entrusted to Compass Real Estate to list for sell on behalf of the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC).  Compass Real Estate, with offices both in Chattanooga and Nashville, works in association with The Swicegood Group, Inc. of North Carolina to assist in the disposition of FDIC-owned real estate nationwide.

This gas station was assigned to FDIC Project Manager Justin Ochs, Principal Broker/Lead Auctioneer for Compass’s Nashville Division.  Justin quickly resourced Compass’s extensive database of national and international buyers.  Within 30 days and before a list price could be issued by FDIC, Justin brought 5 competing buyers to the table.  A final call for highest and best offers was issued as soon as the list price was announced in early December.

Built in 2001, Zips Gas Station offers the perfect location placed at the corner of N. Castle Heights Ave and N. Cumberland St.  The convenience store encompasses 6,649 +/- square feet of gross building area with an automated carwash and 14 covered gas pumps.  The location, high traffic area, and array of income producing amenities made this gas station an easy buying decision for interested parties.

This property was listed and sold by Team Compass for $1,310,000.00.  FDIC Officers and asset managers have been extremely pleased with the performance of properties listed across the state of Tennessee by Team Compass.

Justin Ochs, M.S., CAI
Principal Broker/Auctioneer
Compass Auctions & Real Estate
Nashville Division
TennesseeAuctioneer.com
“Choosing the right company to handle your auction often makes the difference. With a passion for excellence and extraordinary performance, Compass Auctions & Real Estate works to secure the highest dollar for your assets”

Chattanooga Benefit Auction

Compass Auctions at Work in Chattanooga

Here’s a look at the type of atmosphere an auctioneer can provide to an event. This happened in Chattanooga, TN; Auctioneer Steve Holt and ringman Ben Gunter entertain the crowd while helping a Chattanooga fundraising effort. Watch how the auctioneer can draw a crowd’s interest. The chant not only calls for bids but interacts with the crowd. As a fundraiser, you want to see the audience involved in the event, not just eating free food and leaving. An auctioneer is the most logical way to achieve this goal.

We apologize in advance for the quality of the video – we’ll be better at the next event.

 

 

If for some reason this video doesn’t work, find it on Youtube here

 

Remember, Compass Auctions & Real Estate exists to help you. If you have any questions or would like us to help you in your fundraising efforts, give us a call.

423-702-6180

info@soldoncompass.com

 

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