continued from page 45 imminently going to default on their
mortgage. They lost a big contract and
needed the property sold right away,
and I’ve been able to make that happen.
One, in particular, was a commercial
property called Mario’s Pizza in Arlington,
Virginia, right outside of Washington,
D.C. It was located on one of the last
blocks in Arlington that was just prime
for redevelopment. This small piece of
commercial real estate sat in the middle,
so if this block was ever going to be
redeveloped, you had to own this piece.
It was a situation where the owner had
to sell right away. He decided to do the
auction and called me. We announced
the sale at the beginning of December.
I did the auction on December 21 and
closed the transaction December 28
because he needed it done by year-end.
It was a $2.85 million sale. It’s just one
of those transactions where it was a
high-profile piece of real estate, the seller
desperately needed to sell, and the buyer
was an all-cash buyer. Everything just fell
into place, and everybody was happy.
Generally speaking, people come to
auctioneers because they don’t have
time, they need to sell something quickly.
They usually have some type of pressure
on them that is causing them to have to
sell fast. I will often sort of assume that
pressure and want to solve their problem.
That’s the thrill of the business. Every
successful auction makes me happy.
Q Who inspires you professionally or personally?
I get inspired by people
who start with an idea and then deliver
on it. I get very inspired by the team at
Dream Works and other film companies.
They have an idea for a story. They just
make it up out of nowhere and then they
deliver, and it’s worth $1 billion. How do
you do that?
I look at what I do, and how I can deliver
on bringing $1 million or even $5 million
for a property. But to have the confidence
to deliver on $1 billion worth of value
is just really, really inspiring, because
when you make those commitments,
it’s a commitment in yourself. I certainly
have that confidence in myself to deliver
at the highest level. I just wish I had a
billion-dollar piece of real estate to sell.
I look for those really big deals where
failure is not an option. You see in
where people are showing up at a certain
date and time, and instead they’re
just able to bid from their computer,
from their iPhone, and submit bids
in advance or let the software bid
for them. That greatly increases the
number of prospective bidders.
Q Do you prefer online auctions to live auctions?
Like everything, it has its
pros and cons. Certainly with a live
auction, a buyer is more likely to be
emotionally connected to the auctioneer.
You may be able to convince them to bid
one more time when you’re looking
them in the eye and patting them on the
back and saying, “Well, do you really
want to buy this?” You can’t do that when
they’re sitting behind a computer 500
miles away or even two miles away. It’s
less personable now. When it’s online, it’s
all about the numbers.
But people do certainly get caught up
bidding online. One of the benefits
of the online platform, outside of the
convenience for the buyers, is that when
someone bids online, they’ve made
the decision to purchase, and they’re
more likely to bid again. They’ve already
made the buying decision once—they
might as well go for it and try the next
increment if someone bids against them.
I think people get excited about it, and
they genuinely like the thrill of bidding
and not knowing if they’re going to be
successful until the end of the sale.
Q What have been your most gratifying, favorite, or important,
Certainly one of my
favorites is the sale of Computer
Learning Centers, because it was the first
time I ever earned a seven-figure
commission. It was a large bankruptcy
case on which I worked with Jason Gold,
a Chapter 7 trustee here in Northern
Virginia. It was a very successful case,
selling for over $22 million. That was
financially exciting for me.
I also have had a lot of auctions that,
while they may not have been the
highest paying transactions, were
personally satisfying because I may
have worked for an individual or an
investor or an estate, somebody who
was personally in trouble. They came
to me because they needed to sell
something quickly. I was their only
solution, so I had to perform. I’ve had
certain cases where someone was
Q How did you gravitate into turnaround and restructuring work?
I’m an auctioneer and
sales agent, and I primarily work for
banks and trustees, selling assets,
companies, and all different types of
assets. I started back in 1992 in the
auction business. I was in real estate
before that, but in ‘92 during the RTC
crisis, I had my first exposure to the
auction business. I was at Long & Foster
in Fairfax, working in the corporate
office, and we created a land and auction
department. Since I was the guy who
was getting the business from the banks,
I had a lot of properties to sell. We had a
really successful sale the first time we did
an auction, and I realized that I just really
loved it, so I stayed with it.
I had originally wanted to be a political
campaign manager. Then I realized
there was no money in it—you usually
have to have your money before you
get into it. I realized that auctions were
a lot like political campaigns. There is
no day after Election Day—you’re either
successful or you’re not. Auctions are
the same way—you’re either successful
on auction day or you’re not, and I really
enjoyed that high-pressure, time-sensitive sale activity, where you’re
pushed to perform and where success
is the only solution. You have to make
sure you’re successful and you can’t
wait because the clock is ticking.
Q How has the auction business changed over the years?
The one thing that’s still
the same is you’re creating competitive
bidding around assets that you have to
sell. What’s changed is how you reach
prospective buyers and how they bid.
The biggest change in how you reach
buyers is the decrease in newspaper
advertising and traditional marketing
efforts—it’s really all about digital media
marketing. Now you can reach buyers
faster than you could even five years
ago. Now you can really just put out a
web of interest to prospective buyers
and reach people immediately. That
shortens the time you need to get
multiple bids for assets.
The other significant change in our
industry is how people bid. Now, so
many auctions are occurring online
instead of the traditional live auction. I
find myself doing fewer live auctions, continued on page 48