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Auction Ace

Lightning-fast speech and expert crowd-working skills make this auctioneer a top dog in his field.


Published:

Photo by Drew Altizer Photography

Name: Damon Casatico
Age: 52
City of residence: Danville
Job: Auctioneer and founder, Charity Benefit Auctions

Veteran auctioneer Damon Casatico brings formidable chops and a winning personality to his fundraising efforts for worthy nonprofits. Here, he gives us a behind-the-scenes look at his job and shares insights into how to host a killer auction.

Learning Curve

“I graduated from San Diego State with the intention of being a schoolteacher but was looking for something else to add to my résumé. So, I went to the Missouri Auction School in Kansas City, and I got hooked as soon as I enrolled. It was a three-week program that teaches the fundamentals, like how to develop your auction chant. And you get the honorary title of Colonel with your diploma.”

Career Path

“Auction school makes a big difference—you can always tell when an auctioneer is not well trained—but the real education comes after, with experience. Right out of school, I went to work with Manheim in Hayward, the biggest auto auction company in the world. I then joined a family auction house called Somerset, in Santa Clara, and I worked there for eight years. That’s where I really honed my technique.”

Paying It Forward

“I started my own charity benefit company 16 years ago. I really enjoy it. Instead of putting ​money in a business’ bank account, I’m helping deserving nonprofits. We raise funds for organizations like the Diablo Regional Arts Association and Okizu, a camp for kids with life-threatening cancers. These nonprofits are super-worthy and need every dollar.”

Working the Room

“Everyone has been to an auction that’s so bad you want to jam your salad fork into your throat. I don’t want that. I want to have fun and create an opportunity for people to donate in their comfort zone. So, the most important thing is to read the room and ask, ‘What does the room want?’”

Talking the Talk

“You should speak as fast as you can, but not so fast that you lose your audience. Also, the type of auction affects your speed. For example, in real estate auctions, when you’re dealing with fore-​closures, you have to get through a lot of information in a short time. I’ve done foreclosure auctions where I’ve sold a house approximately every 30 seconds.”

Downtime 

“People think auctioneers must be fast-paced all the time. Not so. The truth is, I am ridiculously slow outside the auction. I am the guy going 55 mph on the highway.”

Going, Going, Gone

Casatico reveals the three biggest blunders an auctioneer can make:

1. Telling too many jokes. “Nothing will irritate an audience more.”

2. Saying shhh. “It shows you’ve lost control.”

3. Drinking on the job. “The event will be a train wreck.”

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