Employee Justin McCoy gives back through auctioneering

Posted | April 12, 2019

Employee: Justin McCoy
Title: Operations Crew Supervisor
Location: Trimble County Generating Station
Years of service: 12 years

​​​​​What's your special off-the-clock pursuit?
I have always enjoyed going to auctions and just listening to the auctioneers chant. As a kid, I would go with my dad to auctions all the time. Dad was a huge inspiration to me; he went to auctioneer school when he got out of the service. He never auctioned for a living, but he just wanted to have it to fall back on, in case his business didn't take off. Dad had always done the local elementary fall benefit auction so naturally I wanted to jump in and start doing them with him. What I found out was that I really enjoyed it. With a benefit auction, you can have a lot of fun involving the crowd, plus the money that is raised is going to a great cause such as a school, Relay For Life or a family in need.

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Auctioneer Justin McCoy (center) uses his hobby to help his community. For a sneak peek of McCoy in action, watch this brief video.

When did you first begin auctioneering?
I first began trying to auction stuff when I was a kid, but when I hired in at LG&E in 2007, I used my first week of vacation to go to Nashville Auction School. At the time, I thought there was no way that I would last as an operator. So, just like my father, I went to have something to fall back on if my job at the company did not work out. Since then, I've put my education to use by auctioning at fundraisers. This keeps my skills up, and I get to raise money for a great cause. Just like any profession though, it takes time to become proficient. I would practice all the time and I still do almost every day. I am sure if someone ever put a recorder in my car, they would be so amused by the price a road sign or a mailbox brings, not to mention the fact that I am selling stuff to no one!

How often do you serve as an auctioneer at various events?
Currently, I auction at about six or seven events throughout the year, including at local elementary schools, for Relay For Life, county 4-H programs, and other events that benefit a family in need (for example, when a family's house burns down, and they have nothing left). It can be real fun raising money for a good cause. A person is generally willing to spend a little more than an item is worth, knowing that the money will help a child get a new backpack, for example, or a family a place to stay until they get on their feet, or an organization that's searching for a cure for cancer.

How do you prepare beforehand?
Generally, I start the morning of the auction just practicing counting to 20 and back to zero using single numbers. Then to 100 and backwards to zero using fives (5, 10, 15, 20, etc.). Then go to 20 and backwards to zero in 2 ½ increments (2.5, 5, 7.5, 10 etc.). My favorite warmups, though, usually occur before the auction starts. I will get someone everyone knows and loves or an elected official with me in front of the crowd. Then I'll put them on the spot by getting them either to commit to buy their way out of embarrassment or "warm up" with me. Generally, they are always willing to try "warming up." So, then they have to repeat the Betty Boughter story: Betty Boughter bought some butter but she said this butter is bitter. If I put it in my batter, it will make my batter bitter, so she bought a bit of better butter and put in her bitter batter to make her bitter batter better so Betty Boughter bought a bit of better butter for her bitter batter. I will usually start off slow with them repeating it after me and gradually increase my speed. The end result is everyone gets a good laugh, and we gain a few extra dollars for a great cause just by making people laugh.

At what events have you auctioneered recently?
I was able to raise money for the DuPont Elementary School in Jefferson County, Indiana. The school decorated five different Christmas trees, and I was asked by a co-worker if I would be interested in helping out the school. Although there were limited items, we were able to raise a large sum of money to go toward new iPads for the students.

What do you enjoy most about your hobby?
I love the fact that I am able to help people have a good time while helping raise money for my community, schools and various organizations. There is no better feeling than to be able to help someone in need who truly appreciates the help. Also, I just enjoy learning the value of various items, ranging from furniture to excavators. There is something about finding a great deal in items that's always exciting.

Do you have any particularly memorable moments?
There is no particular moment that really stands out more than another, but one thing I enjoy is when there are two competing businesses, such as two bank representatives, in the audience. I will be sure to let the competing bank know that they are being outbid. It always makes for a good laugh, and usually each representative will go along and try to outbid the other to raise more money. What is particularly great about businesses showing up is that they get good advertisement and they are giving back to their community as well. Farmers Bank of Milton and Bedford Bank, for example, are at 90% of my auctions, and we all work together to help out the charity of choice.

Are there ways you incorporate your talent/skills into your work life at LG&E and KU?
Auctioning helps me "find my voice" in a group or company meetings. It has introduced me to people that I would have otherwise never met as well.