Just two weeks into a brand new year, Scott Matthews earned his third auctioneering championship in as many years, a sizable accomplishment since he first set out to achieve his lifelong goal in 2014.
Matthews, a full-time physical educator teacher at Midway Elementary School for the past 14 years, recently won the Southeast Regional Big Peach Classic, sponsored by the Georgia Auctioneers Association. The competition was held Jan. 14 at St. Simons Island, Ga.
Auctioneers from Georgia, Alabama and North Carolina were judged on a private three-question interview with judges, as well as the rhythm and speed of their chant, effective auctioneering practices and the ambassadorship potential possessed by the contestant. A preliminary round required contestants to sell two items to a live crowd. During the finals, one additional item was sold.
“I’m very proud to have won this event and also proud to represent the auction industry,” Matthews stated. “I watched (the Big Peach Classic) over the years and I knew there were some good auctioneers in it. I knew it wasn’t going to be easy by any stretch of the imagination.”
Last month’s championship was just the latest for Matthews — in fact it was the third since the middle of 2015. He won the 2016 grand championship of the Auctioneers Association of North Carolina, just seven months after he was named the 2015 AANC Rookie Champion.
When Matthews was just 5 years old, he was an amazed onlooker at farm auctions, captivated by the fast-talking bid callers who were the center of attention. He thought about pursuing a career as an auctioneer for years before a Google search launched him toward it.
The pursuit took him to Mendenhall School of Auctioneering in High Point in August 2014, where he completed a nine-day intensive course that encompassed instructors from across the country sharing their expertise and real-life experiences about every type of auction — estate, livestock, auto, antiques and real estate among them. In September 2014, Matthews was licensed.
Less than a year later, he had his first title.
“It’s certainly been good to me in a short amount of time,” Matthews said. “To have multiple championships is truly a blessing. I stay humble and I thank the Good Lord for the talent.”
Matthews believes that being an ambassador for auctioneering is important, and being willing to not only learn but pass on knowledge was just as vital. He wanted to be a champion, and worked to realize that, and it happened quickly — quicker than Matthews ever imagined.
While being an auctioneering ambassador is a priority for Matthews, from the start of an auctioneer’s career perhaps nothing is more important than the chant. It’s synonymous with auctioneering and what drew Matthews in as a little boy and what he now practices on a regular basis, even slipping into it during PE classes at Midway.
“In order to be a good auctioneer, you have to have a good smooth, rhythmic auction chant. Speed and clarity are both important,” Matthews has said. “I guess there has to be a hidden talent, a God-given talent.”
He has that talent, evident by the accolades. A humble champion, Matthews said he didn’t believe he was any better than the many who are just as dedicated as he is, and love bid-calling just as much.
“I definitely wasn’t any better than anyone there,” said Matthews of the Big Peach Classic. “I was lucky that day. I planned to win, but to hear them call my name was just unbelievable to me. I’m very honored and blessed. It’s fantastic — I’m tickled to death to get it.”
Making the win perhaps most special was the fact that his wife Lauren and 6-year-old son Ace made the five-and-a-half hour trip with him to St. Simons that Saturday morning. Ace, around the same age as his father was when he was first mesmerized by the art of the live auction, had never seen his dad compete before.
“He was just as proud as he could be,” Matthews said. “Everything just fell into place. It was just a nice day and a fantastic experience.”
Matthews has often credited his wife and son, as well as his parents, Patsy and Joe Matthews, for their support.
“They’ve all been supportive of me and helped me,” he has said. “They’ve listened to me in the car, in the shower, in the bedroom and around the house. We’ve even done fake sales when they’re bidding and I’m selling. It just takes so much work to make it happen and I’ve been lucky and blessed to be in this position.”
Matthews loves his job at Midway, just as he enjoys spending whatever nights and weekends he can to take an auctioneering excursion.
“It goes hand in hand,” Matthews said. “My teaching career has allowed me to develop skills to be in front of people. Auctioneering is the people business, so is school.”
The next competitive stop for Matthews will be the International Auctioneer Championship, to be held in Columbus, Ohio, this year. Win or lose, Matthews is happy to be doing what he loves.
“When a passion and success comes together, that is a sweet pill,” he said.
Reach Managing Editor Chris Berendt at 910-249-4616. Follow the paper on twitter @SampsonInd and like us on Facebook.