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Wade Leist, Michigan Auctioneer Champion 2015

Wade Leist, Michigan Auctioneer Champion 2015

Wade Leist
Michigan Auctioneer Champion 2015


Wade Leist of Boyne City, Michigan won the title, Michigan Auctioneer Champion at the Michigan Auctioneer Championship. The Championship was held on January 28 at the Michigan Auctioneers Association’s Annual Conference in Kalamazoo, Michigan. 15 Contestants competed for the coveted title. The 5 Finalists were John Beechy (Napanee, Ind.), Grant Cole (Beulah, Mich.), Romayne Graber (Charlotte, Mich.), Wade Leist (Boyne City, Mich.) and Kelly Merryman (Fremont, Mich.). For winning the title, Wade received a championship ring, trophy, and entry into the International Auctioneer Championship in July in Addison, Texas.Also taking home honors were John Beechy and Grant Cole. Beechy was 1st Runner up and Graber was 2nd Runner up.

Wade Leist is a 35 year old, 2nd generation auctioneer. He started in the auction profession as a ticket runner like many other 2nd generation auctioneers. He then helped with clerking, cashiering, set-up and ringman before becoming a bid caller. In about 2002, he called his first auction at the Lake Odessa Stockyards calling bids for Leon Casey and Russ Easey. Russ Easey was the auctioneer on that day. Unannounced, Russ set the mic down and walked off saying “your turn boy!”

After his initiation in Lake Odessa, he began assisting his dad with bid calling for his auction company, Frank Leist Auction Service. In 2004, Wade and his brother, Ed, went to World Wide College of Auctioneering in Mason City, IA. They graduated and returned to Michigan with a full head of steam. Their dad made them working partners in the company along with cousin Jerry Schmoldt, and it is now called Leist Auctioneers. They specialize in farm, estate, real estate and also benefit auctions. Wade particularly enjoys conducting benefit auctions and his highly sought after as a benefit auctioneer.

Shortly after returning from auction school, he began selling for his dad at Northern Michigan Livestock. Selling livestock became a true passion and has since gone on to compete in livestock auctioneering competitions. In October 2014 he competed in the Eastern Regional Qualifier of the Livestock Marketing Association’s World Livestock Auctioneer Championship. He finished in the top 10 of that competition and qualified to compete in Waco TX June 2015 in the World Livestock Auctioneer Championship. On January 31, 2015 he competed in the Greater Midwest Auctioneer Championship and also finished in the top 10.

Wade joined the Michigan Auctioneers Association in 2004 and attended his first convention in 2005. He enjoys the friendships, programs, education and networking that the association offers its members. In 2006, he entered his first Michigan Auctioneer Championship. In 2012, 2013 and 2014 he finished as MAC Runner-up to champions Henry Detwiler, Jimmy Lambert and Laura Mantle. In 2012, he was elected to serve a 3 year term as Board of Director. At the 2015 conference he was elected as Vice President.

In 2013, he married his beautiful wife Sarah. They have 3 daughters, Morgan 9 yo, Katie 5 yo and Aubrey 8 months old. They make their home in Boyne City MI where they also run a horse leasing operation, North Bay Horse Co. They lease over 100 horses to summer riding camps throughout the state of Michigan during the summer months. Their family enjoys camping, riding the Harley and participating in sporting events.

John Beechy, Michigan Ringman Champion 2014

John Beechy, Michigan Ringman Champion 2014

John Beechy
Michigan Ringman Champion 2014


Auctioneer John Beechy was awarded the honor of 2014 Michigan Ringman Champion on January 29, 2014 at the Michigan Auctioneers Association Annual Conference in Lansing, Michigan. 10 Contestants competed for the coveted title. Contestants were judged by a panel of 5 past Michigan Auctioneer Champions. They were judged on 4 categories: Crowd/Buyer Interaction, Performance, Relaying Bids and Communication with their Auctioneer, and Appearance/Presence.

John began his auction career in the spring of 2009 after graduating Reppert Auction School. John began assisting other auction companies on auction day, which led him to selling 3 to 5 auctions a week. He currently sells at 2 auto auctions every week and 1 weekly antique consignment auction. On other days you will see him assisting other auction companies selling horses, equipment, household, and much more. He is the owner of J&B Auctions of Nappanee, Indiana. He is a proud member of the Indiana Auctioneers Association, the Michigan Auctioneers Association and the National Auctioneers Association. John is currently the 2013 Indiana Auctioneer Champion and now the 2014 Michigan Ringman Champion. John says that he has truly been blessed in the auction business and is excited to see what the future holds.

Darin Hower, Michigan Ringman Champion 2015

Darin Hower, Michigan Ringman Champion 2015

Darin Hower
Michigan Ringman Champion 2015


Auctioneer Darin Hower was awarded the honor of 2015 Michigan Ringman Champion on January 28, 2015 at the Michigan Auctioneers Association Annual Conference in Kalamazoo, Michigan. 7 Contestants competed for the coveted title. Contestants were judged by a panel of 5 judges including past Michigan Auctioneer Champions and International Auctioneer Champions. They were judged on 4 categories: Crowd/Buyer Interaction, Performance, Relaying Bids and Communication with their Auctioneer, and Appearance/Presence.Darin Hower, his wife Carla, and two children, Andrea and Christian are longtime residents of the Lake City – Cadillac area. Darin, an auctioneer with Don Hower – Auctioneers, in Lake City, MI., conducts all types of auctions in a multi-county area in Northern Michigan. The auction company was established and has been operating successfully since 1967.

Darin is a graduate of the Missouri Auction School. He is a proud member of the Michigan Auctioneers Association. Darin, recently served on the MAA Board of Directors from 2012 to 2015, as the Secretary / Treasurer. He also holds the CAGA designation from the Certified Appraisers Guild of America. Darin is active in the Real Estate business, as well. He holds a Michigan Real Estate Salesperson License with Whitetail Realty, in Lake City. He is a member of the local Paul Bunyan Board of Realtors, Michigan Realtors and the National Association of Realtors. Darin says that he would encourage anyone, in the auction industry, to join and get involved with their State & National Associations. It really is an excellent opportunity to gain friendships, knowledge and professional insights into the auction business.

MAA Inducts Barney Barnhart, Gwyn Besner & David Helmer into Hall of Fame

MAA Inducts Barney Barnhart, Gwyn Besner & David Helmer into Hall of Fame

Martin “Barney” Barnhart
2014 MAA Hall of Fame Inductee


Born in 1920, Barney Barnhart was raised on the 202 acre family farm just south of Reading, Michigan where he still resides to this day. Arthur, Barney’s father, in addition to running the family farm, dealt in Belgian draft horses. His father would frequent auctions with Barney in tow. Barney was intrigued with the auctioneers chant and when he returned home, working in the fields, he would often “practice” his chant by selling imaginary horses and grain while trying to learn the skills of the men he admired.

In 1939, Barney’s father hired legendary auctioneer, Andy Adams to auction his registered short horned cattle herd. Seizing an opportunity, Barney asked Mr. Adams if he could sell a wagon full of miscellaneous items. The legendary Andy Adams saw something in Barney as soon afterward, he hired him to work future auctions. From that day on, 73 years later, Barney Barnhart has been a regular fixture as an auctioneer at the South end of the Hillsdale County Fairgrounds on Saturdays.

He has held or assisted with auctions literally all over the United States. The biggest auction Barney ever conducted was in Minnesota where he sold an entire town. It was a lumber town which was no longer needed. There was a bank, jail, barber shop and other types of log cabin structured buildings which he sold. That day, he sold an old milk wagon that had been left behind. It was the first horse drawn wagon in the city which sold at auction for $27,000.

From 1940-2009, Barney assisted with and donated his valuable time at the annual 4-H and FFA animal auctions at the end of each Hillsdale County Fair. Barney and his family also raised and showed pure bred Chester White swine. In 1952, their entry in the Michigan State Fair was the state champion borrow and was the first in Michigan to sell for more than $1,000. Ironically, the hog’s name was “One Grand!” Barney and his father were featured on the cover of the 1952 issue of Michigan Farmer magazine.

Barney and his beautiful bride Ruby married in 1947. They have five children, five grandchildren and three great grandchildren. Ruby passed away just before their 61st anniversary in 2008. This past October 10, 2013, The Exchange Club of Hillsdale honored Martin “Barney” Barnhart with his induction into the 33rd Book of Golden Deeds Award Banquet. Barney was honored by the MAA with his induction into the MAA Hall of Fame as well as a Lifetime Achievement Award.

Gwyn Besner, CAI, AARE
2014 MAA Hall of Fame Inductee


Gwyn Besner was inducted into the Michigan Auctioneer Hall of Fame on January 29, 2014 at the Michigan Auctioneers Association Annual Conference in Lansing.

Gwyn has been an auctioneer since 1982 and a certified Auction and Real Estate Instructor since 1994. Six years ago, she created her own highly successful proprietary school, The Acme Institute. Gwyn’s education includes Delta College, University of Michigan, World Wide College of Auctioneering, Certified Auctioneers Institute and Auctioneer Accredited in Real Estate.

She wanted to buy a PA so she got her dealers license and talked a couple of other auctioneers into buying one too so she could buy enough to become a dealer, then she also started selling PA’s. Later on she went to real estate school, obtained her broker’s license and became a teacher. She taught for Holloway’s Institute for year before starting her own school. She has helped thousands of students get their salespersons and brokers licenses. Many of Gwyn’s classes focus on Auction law and helping Auctioneers expand their knowledge of the real estate market. Gwyn’s boundless energy and enthusiasm for her professions are legendary. Teaching, lobbying at the state level, constantly updating her professional data base and donating countless hours of her time for the causes she believes in are all what makes Gwyn Besner who she is. Gwyn’s love for the auction profession could only be overshadowed by her love for music and her grandchildren.

She’s served on the Michigan Auctioneers Association board of directors for 14 years, including time as the Secretary/Treasurer and VP. She also serves as the chair of the Michigan Auctioneer Registration Board. Although her focus has been on teaching, she is still very active in auctions and referrals in Michigan. Gwyn has come a long way since her first auction in 1982 and, at one time, was the only woman on the Michigan Auctioneer’s Association. Now she is the first woman honored with a place in the Michigan Auctioneers Hall of Fame.

David G. Helmer, CAI, GPPA, CES
2014 MAA Hall of Fame Inductee


David was born into the auction profession through an auction company what was founded by his MSAA Hall of Fame father, Jerry Helmer and his partner, Lloyd Braun in 1974. Although the business gave David an automatic place at the podium, he has never just sat back, hit cruise control and rode the wave due to his affiliation with an established auction company. The fact is, David used this platform to grab the steering wheel not only to continue the Braun & Helmer Auction Service legacy, but to take the company to an extraordinary level.

David has an amazing talent, passion and commitment toward the entire auction industry. He has attended every MAA sanctioned event for approximately two decades including: Conventions, Midwest Auctioneers Round Up, Special Meetings etc. He hosted the welcome picnic for the 2013 Midwest Auctioneers Roundup at his farm in Saline, providing an ample dinner for over 100 and inviting everyone to take barn tours, all while driving the tractor and hay wagon to transport everyone around.

David is the founder of the annual MAA All Star Auction. The event has raised over $30,000 for charity over the past five years and has given the MAA an immeasurable amount of media attention through local Michigan communities and numerous front page stories in industry trade publications. He served on the National Auctioneers Foundation Board of Trustees, is a past President of the Michigan Auctioneers Association, was a 2006 Auction X Press National All Star, is the 2008 Michigan Ringman Champion, the 2006 Michigan Auctioneer Champion, won First Place Champion of over 100 MSAA Marketing Awards, and has earned his CAI, GPPA and CES designations through the National Auctioneers Association.

Davis has worked over 1,600 public auctions, worked with over 60 charitable organizations and is the exclusive auctioneer for the Detroit Tigers and Detroit Lions alumni. He is one of the founders of The Auctioneer Channel and the founder of the Super Auction. He is well respected among his peers and is a role model for many in and out of the auction arena. He is an upstanding member of his community with high morals and a faithful Christian. David and his wife, Jennifer, have three children, Olivia and twin boys, Luke & Caleb.

Doug Heuker, MAA Hall of Fame 2015

Doug Heuker, MAA Hall of Fame 2015

Douglas J. Heuker, AARE, GPPA
2015 MAA Hall of Fame Inductee


Doug Heuker first catches your attention with his infectious smile, and soon in conversation this is followed with an easily identifiable deep and hearty laugh. It is for that reason alone this gentleman is one that people want to be around, and one of the traits that has led to his great success. He is a sincere Christian, and you can see evidence of that throughout his walk in life. He has been active in his church for years, and leads a men’s Bible Study. His work ethic and principles further reveal his sincere heart and desire to treat others as he wishes to be treated.

Born in 1969, Doug is the oldest of 4 siblings. He graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Account and married his lovely wife, Erin, at the tender age of 22. They have 3 children, Melanie, Benjamin & Nickolas, who love and admire their father. Doug is a sportsman who loves to hunt, fish, and travel with his family.

Doug worked for a private company as an accountant for a while after graduation from college before deciding that wasn’t for him. He grew up going to cattle auctions with his grandpa – and that auction call always rang in his ears. He raises beef cattle today just like his Grandpa did. So he went to Missouri Auction School and for a little while worked with his dad in the heating/cooling business while trying to get started in auctioneering. It was easy to see this was one cool cat and that he had true talent in bid calling.

Doug joined Miedema Auctioneering in 1996. Made great friends there, including the late Hib Kuiper… he has had many an adventure working at auctions together with Sid & Scott Miedema and their entire crew. Doug is truly a leader in the auction industry, he serves as President of, and sells hundreds of properties annually using the latest cutting edge auction tools. He has given presentations, assisted many auctioneers as a mentor, served several years as a board member, and in 2008 served as the MAA President. He is also the 2002 Michigan Auctioneer Champion, the 2010 Michigan Ringman Champion, a multiple finalist in the International Auctioneer Championship, and now an MAA Hall of Fame Member.

It is with sad news that we share that Doug passed away the day after he was inducted into the Michigan Hall of Fame. He will be greatly missed by the industry, his business partners, family and friends.

Mike Furlo, MAA Hall of Fame 2015

Mike Furlo, MAA Hall of Fame 2015

Michael W. Furlo, CAI, CAGA
2015 MAA Hall of Fame Inductee


On Tuesday, March 13, 1956, a little boy named Mike was born. His mom taught him to talk, and he hasn’t stopped since! He had a colorful upbringing, spending much of his time at the Schuk Hotel and The Town House restaurant, owned by his parents.

In 1976, Mike married the love his life, Jean Helm. Together they had a daughter, Trudy, and two sons, Bill and Tony. With their children and their daughter in law Trina, Their legacy continues, with grandchildren, Logan, Drake, Dillon, Emily, Corbin, Will, and Gracie.

Mike had several independent businesses. He had his own well drilling business, then went on to custom combining. When satellite dishes became popular, Mike was on the front line in sales and promotion. Memories by Mike was his photography shop in Merrill. After the large satellite fell out of favor, he spent a year in Japan teaching conversational English. This led to several years working with Northword University ESL, recruiting and sponsoring numerous Japanese college students.

All these life experiences had Mike perfectly positioned for his life long career – auctioneering. He came into the field because of a random comment made by Leonard Breasbois. In 1986, while visiting with Mike, Leonard simply said: “You know, Mike, you’d make a good auctioneer!” And so it began. Mike did some investigating, he enrolled in the Reppert Auction School, graduating in May of 1986. He did several benefit auctions for experience. His first paying auction was a small farm sale, held in a field with folding tables and hand written clerking sheets.

Nowadays, Mike’s auctions are state of the art, with computerized clerking, wireless credit card processing, video and audio recordings and professional marketing. Noticing that big sales can make for long walks to the sales, Mike personally purchased two shuttle vehicles, to make it easier to get to the auction site. His biggest auction by far was a property sale. Appraised by real estate professionals at $400,000, the final bid was just $2,000 shy of one million dollars. Needless to say, the sellers were extremely happy!

Mike does a lot of property auctions, as well as estate. He’s very sought after for restaurant/business auctions, as he knows the equipment and their uses, and can speak the buyer’s language. Mike also has a good appraisal business. Many individuals, professionals, banks, and credit unions use Furlo Auction Service as their source for appraisals.

Mike still loves to do benefit auctions. Some of his favorites are the Big Brother, Big Sisters, National Wild Turkey Federation, Steelheaders, St. Judes, St. Brigids Catholic Schools, and many others.

When not auctioneering, Mike has a passion for horses. Mike and Jean love to trail ride, going on rides throughout Michigan as well as out of state. Mike also loves to ride his horses “Sorting and penning”. The first time Mike rode his horse Hal sorting, they trotted away with 1st place! If you happened through Freeland and saw a horse and buggy going through the drive thru at Burger King, it was probably Mike.

Mike loves the auction business. He continually is looking to improve himself and his business. He’s a member of the Michigan Auctioneer’ Association, CAGA, CAI, and NAA. A past president of the MAA (2005), he continues to support and enjoy the meetings and conventions. Mike has brought his family well into the auction business. His daughter Trudy and son Tony can both be found regularly calling bid at Furlo auctions. His son Bill has called auction as well. His daughter-in-law Trina can be found behind the clerk station, and his sister Kathy works the pay window. Jean is everywhere, clerking, setting up the auction, running the window, settling up with sellers, and making sure everything runs smooth.

Much like Will Rogers, Mike has never met a man he didn’t like. He can walk into a crowded room full of a hundred strangers, and walk out with a hundred friends. He goes the extra distance to make people comfortable and happy. Mike works hard for his sellers, but strives to make his buyers happy with their purchases, too. On two separate occasions, he searched out and contacted people who had lost their class rings that had been found in storage locker auctions. He doesn’t do it for a reward – which he refused in both cases – but because that’s the type of person Mike is.

Mike Furlo is many things – a great husband, a good dad and grandpa, a terrific friend, and an outstanding auctioneer. He’s even an ordained minister, and has performed several weddings He has a huge love of life. He likes to have fun, and likes others to have fun at the same time. Congratulations on an honor well deserved!