Joseph Mast became the lead auctioneer for Barrett-Jackson in August, 2015, and has done three auctions since then, including Barrett-Jacksons 45th anniversary event in Scottsdale in January.
A native of Ohio, Mast graduated from the Missouri Auction School in 2001. His early auction career focused on estate, cattle and real estate, horses and later added classic and collector car auctions.
He has been a consistent finalist at the International Auctioneers Championship and is the youngest person to win that championship. He also sits on the board of directors of the National Auctioneers Association.
CCN: How did you get started in auctioneering?
Mast: I got started in 2000 after my father brought home an auction flyer and put it on the kitchen table. He said he thought I would be good at it and, at the time, we had just sold our family farm and I didn’t know what I was going to do with my career. I really started because of my father’s nudging and wanted to try something new, so I started selling anything and everything from estates, classic cars, horses, and everything in-between.
CCN: What’s the difference between selling thoroughbred race horses and high-horsepower classic and collectible cars?
Mast: There is a huge difference as far as an auctioneer goes. Selling classic cars at Barrett-Jackson is extremely high energy, an exciting environment, and high stress levels because there are so many things going on all at once with the live TV and the excitement you have to portray being up on the block and you really have to fill that huge area with your presence and your voice. The race horses are a huge contrast to that. It’s very calm, cool, collected and there is no real big excitement in the room, you’re much more monotone in the selling. It’s much calmer.
CCN: How big a deal was winning international auctioneer of the year in 2011?
Mast: Two-thousand-eleven was a huge year for me, winning the IAC is basically my industry telling me they think I am a great representative for them and it was a huge time for me from a social media standpoint, and after I won the championship everyone started following me, viewing YouTube videos, and everything was getting a lot greater.
CCN: You’ve been with Barrett-Jackson since 2009 but you’re still considered very young as an auctioneer. What have you learned from others on the BJ auctioneering team?
Mast: As far as being young auctioneer goes, I am a young auctioneer but unlike most others I started at the age of 20 and I think the average person starts at 40 or 50. I’ve got 15 years of experience which is quite a bit in the auctioneering world, but I have learned a lot from different auctioneers.
Barrett-Jackson is one of the most unique auctions in the world from not only it being televised live all over the world but you’re selling cars at absolute auction which is very different than the normal. We really get to set the market for the year when we do our Scottsdale auction because things are selling at no reserve. It’s an extremely unique situation to be in and I’ve learned a lot of what not to do but also a lot about how to control your nerves on stage and how to control everything that’s going on and how to make yourself look and feel like you’re in control when there is lots of chaos around you.
CCN: Where is your focus during auction?
Mast: I’ve got a group of almost 50 people between the auctioneers and bid spotters and my focus is on keeping everything running smoothly and making sure everyone is where they need to be, making sure the communication is there between the bid spotters and auctioneers. We don’t want to drop the ball on any car coming through because most of the people who have consigned with us aren’t selling 10 to 20 cars, so if we mess up on one car that’s that one person’s shot for the week so it’s really important to give each automobile that comes over the block your 110 percent effort.
CCN: How big of a role do the bidder assistants play during the auction?
Mast: The bidder assistants for Barrett-Jackson are a huge part of the auction because we have such a big arena and the bidders assistants have to relay the bids from the back of the room all the way to the front of the room.
As an auctioneer, we can’t see people in the back of the room so you can imagine if there is someone all the way in the back of the muscle lounge and another opposite them, you get two bids relayed to the front at once. As the auctioneer I have to communicate back that I recognize one bid over the other. That whole line of communication is extremely important when it comes to bid spotters.
They also help make people feel like they are having fun, making sure they are comfortable, answering questions, because a lot of people haven’t been to an auction before and don’t know what to do. Bidding at Barrett-Jackson is an experience and bid spotters help people understand what’s going on.
CCN: After car a crosses block, do you remember what it sold for?
Mast: Once we say ‘sold’ we are on to the next car and if someone asks me what a car two cars ago brought, there is a good chance I won’t remember it unless it was a highlight car or something special happened. It’s really one down and on to the next.
Photography by Hans Marquez