Mike Maske, being an auctioneer a childhood dream
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[March 19, 2010]
Auctioneer Mike Maske and clerk
Robert "Bob" Shanle take their positions inside the auctioneer's
truck, overlooking the quantity of goods to be sold. In front of the
truck, standing prepared for the job at hand, are Glenn Bryson and
Leroy Ranthum, the men who work the auction floor.
Mike makes a few introductions: the families involved in the
sale, the clerk, floor men, sheet runner and cashiers. He'll outline
the terms of sale, introduce the group that is serving food and
drinks, and encourage the audience to support their cause with a
As the auction begins, the chant of the auctioneer is a rhythmical
compilation of mostly indiscernible words, accented only when the
price of the item changes, and on occasion a word of encouragement
to the floor men: "Hey there, boys. You're doin' a good job."
For Mike Maske, being an auctioneer is a childhood dream
fulfilled. "When I was very young, before I was in school, my father
would take me to the livestock auction which was just down the road
from our house. This was something that I always wanted to do. In
1976 I went to auction school and through the '80's and '90's 'paid
my dues' working with some of the best auctioneers in the Midwest."
Gene Howe from Mount Pulaski helped get him started in the
business, and Maske recalls Mr. Howe as a very dear friend. In the
'80s and '90s Mike worked farm machinery and land auctions with
William Gault of Chatham and remembers him as a true gentleman and
very successful auctioneer.
In addition, he gained experience working with Chan Fuller and
Warren Martin. Maske cites Martin, from Clinton, as having "the
smoothest chant of anyone around." He adds, "I liked to go to his
sales because, even at a young age, if I bought something, he would
say, ‘Sold to the Maske boy.'"
He goes on to say, "This business has helped me establish many
friendships over the years with buyers, sellers and other
Natives of surrounding areas, Maske's parents moved the family to
Mount Pulaski in 1966, and it is still the home base for the
auctioneer service. Mike has two daughters, who are teachers, a son
studying veterinary medicine at the University of Illinois and a new
granddaughter, whom he calls a "real doll."
Having always taken a strong interest in the county and
community, Mike has served on a variety of boards in the area and is
presently a member of the Vonderlieth Living Center, Lake Fork
Community Center and Logan County Fair Association boards.
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In addition, Mike lends support to several local charities,
conducting a number of auctions each year free of charge to these
organizations. "If someone has a need and asks me to help with a
charity auction, I feel that it is my obligation to the community to
help them," he says.
To properly conduct the average auction requires six people.
Depending on the needs of the families hiring the auction team, the
crew may have to do all the organizing and setup for the auction,
which takes a good deal of time. Mike says that he owes a lot to his
crew, some of whom have been with him as long as 25 years. His final
words for this interview were: "My business could not be the success
that it is without the dedicated people that work for me.
"Everyone sees the auctioneer in front of the truck and thinks
that (he is) the only reason that the sale gets accomplished. Not
"For every item that I sell, Glenn and Leroy have to hold those
items up, and Bob has to properly record said items on the clerking
sheet, and the cashier has to collect the money. If any link in this
chain is disrupted, then the group does not function."
[By NILA SMITH]
On the Web:
Maske Auction Service
Auctioneer Mike Maske
and clerk Bob Shanle prepare to begin the auction outside Lake Fork
Community Center on Saturday.
With 40-degree temps,
clouds and wind, the work must go on. Glenn Bryson holds up the
first box to be auctioned while Leroy Ranthum (back to the camera)
waits, ready with the next item up.