HENDRUM, MINN. — Andrew Jossund turned a trait often frowned upon in the school classroom into a unique skill and livelihood.
“I’ve always talked too much, I guess,” said Jossund, who works as a licensed auctioneer.
“I’m just glad I found a way to use it productively,” he said, with a smile.
Jossund, 25, not only makes a living at auctioneering, but is winning awards doing so.
He was recently named the 2020 state champion auctioneer at the Minnesota State Auctioneers Association convention in St. Cloud.
In the contest of auctioneering speed, salesmanship, stage presence and poise, along with a short question-and-answer session about the industry, Jossund came out on top.
“The culmination of those things really shows who’s the best auctioneer on that day,” he said.
Now, Jossund has his sights set on a bigger challenge.
As the state winner, he moves on to the International Auctioneer Championship in San Diego, Calif., this summer, an event that has previously drawn contestants from Canada, Mexico and Ireland, in addition to the U.S. Jossund describes it as “the best of the best.”
“I’ve got six months to practice, so hopefully I can step up to the challenge,” he said.
Perfecting the auctioneer chant
Jossund, who lives with wife Kayla in Gary, Minn., works for Resource Auction in Grand Forks and farms with his family in the Perley and Hendrum, Minn., areas.
Growing up on the farm, he spent many summer afternoons at auction sales with his dad and quickly grew to love the atmosphere.
“I just knew it was something one day I’d want to be a part of,” he said.
As a teenager, he’d practice bid-calling during long hours in the tractor or combine.
After high school, he pursued diesel technology at Minnesota State Community and Technical College and production agriculture at North Dakota State University.
In 2016, he attended auctioneer school, where he learned the fundamentals of bid-calling, along with the ethics and business practices of being an auctioneer. Most states require that auctioneers are licensed and bonded, he said.
An auction chant involves speaking more from the diaphragm and using filler words between the numbers. For example, "would you give" becomes "who da give" in rapidly spoken fashion.
The result is a vocal delivery designed to catch the attention of buyers.
“Unless it was entertaining, you wouldn’t stand out on an 80-degree day and watch somebody sell cars or farm machinery or personal estate items,” he said.
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'Upper echelon' contest
Jossund's first auctioneer victory was in 2018, when he was named rookie of the year in Minnesota and overall runner-up in North Dakota. In 2019, he was overall runner-up in Minnesota and champion in North Dakota, before winning Minnesota this year. Once you've won, you can't compete at that stage again, he said.
During the preliminary round in St. Cloud, each of the 24 contestants sold three items they’d brought from home to sell before the judging panel and audience.
Five of them advanced to the finals, where they were provided three items to sell — that way, they couldn’t practice descriptions ahead of time. While each person performed, the others were sequestered in a room.
Contestants answered questions about being an industry advocate, followed by the bid calling. Jossund thinks his performance in the Q&A portion helped seal the win.
“I feel like I answered well,” he said.
His auctioneer and farm jobs work well together, with auction sales being held at times farmers typically aren’t in the field. Jossund will have plenty of time to practice on the road this spring, driving from one sale to another.
The International Auctioneer Championship will be held July 17 in San Diego. Jossund hopes to reach the finals of the “upper echelon” competition.
“That’s my ultimate goal,” he said.