WINDHOEK – Auctioneering is not glamorous. It suffers from entrenched negative perceptions. In the minds of many youths, an auctioneer is a middle-aged man trying to sell you something in the quickest time possible for an unfair price. Nonetheless, auctioneers are the pistons in a well-oiled machine driving the economy.
In the case of Piet Coetzee of Namboer, who has just been crowned Auctioneering Group of the Year, it is a family business unlike any other in the country. Wife Nicolene is the broom that sweeps every floor with her administrative skills and financial know-how, while sons Xico and Zirk assist Piet in running Namboer like clock work.
With a father like Piet, who has won world championships with his small stock, and holds the world record for the most expensive Van Rooy ram at N$45 000, it is no wonder Zirk and Xico have followed in his footsteps. Xico (19) made world headlines when at the age of 16 he became the world’s youngest qualified auctioneer in 2011 in South Africa. Zirk (23) also joined Namboer at a very young age.
Piet has been crowned Small Stock Breeder of the Year for five years in a row since 2009, and he is also one of only 370 individuals in the world to have been awarded the National Auctioneers Association’s prestigious Certified Estate Specialist (CES) award as an internationally qualified specialist auctioneer.
The family says there is much more to auctioneering than meets the eye. “We are entertainers who must be able to read buyers’ body language as well as their sign language at auctions. You have to stay very focused at all times, ensure a repertoire with the audience and have a thorough knowledge of the animals you are selling, their worth and their potential selling price. Every auctioneer has his/her own chant, which is another useful tool with which he or she ensures discipline and order during auctions. The way in which you open and close an auction is also vital,” they all agree.
Piet says he never forced his sons to become auctioneers; it just happened naturally as they bare both outdoor people who love to work with animals and can’t stand sitting in offices. “I invest heavily in them and share every piece of my experience with them because it is a family business that one day will be theirs. From the moment we open our eyes we are a team and that dedication has resulted in Namboer being awarded the PMR Golden Arrow Award for the second year running as the best group of auctioneers in the country to stimulate the economic growth and development of Namibia.
Zirk received the SAIA Golden Merit Award in 2012 and Xico walked off with the same award in 2011. Piet was also crowned SA champion auctioneer in 2008 and competed at the world championships in Nashville in 2008.
Piet says it is heart warming for him to know that his young sons will one day take over the Namboer operations as highly-skilled and very professional auctioneers. His advice to auctioneers? “Stay humble, get as much experience as possible and never say no to small auctions. See yourself as someone who can help people in need, and follow our example of doing charity auctions free of charge. Work hard to enable yourself to also handle massive auctions where millions are at stake and be professional at all times,” he says.