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News Article  
Michigan Auctioneers Association honor their own
By Starr Miller

MOUNT PLEASANT, Mich. Billy Peyton, Bob Howe and Frank C. Leist have all had incredible starts to their new year. Collectively, they have been awarded top honors offered at the Michigan Auctioneers Association Annual Conference. Peyton, of Middletown, Ohio, won the title of Michigan Auctioneer Champion. Auctioneer Bob Howe of East Lansing, Mich., was awarded the honor of 2019 Michigan Ringman Champion, and Auctioneer Frank C. Leist, of Boyne City, Mich., received the highest distinction any auctioneer can receive when he was inducted into the Michigan Auctioneer Association’s Hall of Fame.

Peyton competed in the Michigan Auctioneer Championship on Jan. 31 at Association’s Annual Conference held at the Comfort Inn & Suites in Mount Pleasant. Twelve contestants competed for the coveted title. The five finalists were Samuel Baer (Galion, Ohio), Ridge Bollheimer (Clarklake, Mich.), Jason Clark (Alma, Mich), Ashley Peters (Riverdale, Mich.), and Billy Peyton (Middletown, Ohio). For winning the title, Peyton received a championship ring, trophy, and entry into the International Auctioneer Championship in July in New Orleans, La.

Also taking home honors were Samuel Baer and Jason Clark. Baer was the 1st runner up and Clark was the 2nd runner up.

Peyton is a member of the Ohio Auctioneers Association, the Michigan Auctioneers Association, and the National Auctioneers Association. The highly talented auctioneer is no stranger to top placements in major auctioneer championships. Peyton won the 2017 Ohio Auctioneers Association Junior Auctioneer Championship and the Midwest Auctioneer Championship in 2018. In two consecutive years, Peyton was ranked in the Top 15 finalists in the 2017 and 2018 International Auctioneers Championship. Then he appeared in the 2018 World Automobile Auctioneers Championship coming in as a finalist in that competitive contest. When not selling automobiles and equipment, Billy is part of his wife’s cattle/grain farming operation of more than 800 acres.

Upon winning the championship, Billy said, I’ve been wanting to be an auctioneer since I was five years old. I knew that’s what I wanted to do. Ever since I went to that first auction, I was hooked and I’ve made my dream come true and became an auctioneer. I’m thrilled to be able to represent my association and industry this year and at the International Auctioneer Championship in July.

Howe was awarded the honor of 2019 Michigan Ringman Champion the same day that Peyton saw his victory.

Five contestants competed for the title and were judged by a panel of five Michigan and International Auctioneer Champions. They were judged on four categories: Crowd/Buyer Interaction, Performance, Relaying Bids and Communication with their Auctioneer, and Appearance/Presence. Also taking home honors were Mathias Donat of Saline, 1st Runner Up, and Kelly Merryman of Fremont, 2nd Runner Up.

Howe graduated from Central Michigan University, with his Bachelor’s Degree in 1968 and Master’s Degree in 1971. He graduated from the Missouri Auction School in 1977 and held his first auction in September of that same year.

He has conducted thousands of auctions and owned three auction companies starting with Brother Bob’s Auction Service, then Heritage Action Firm which he sold in the late 90’s and finally Epic Auctions and Estate Sales which he sold in July of 2018.

He has been a member of the MAA since 1977. This was Howe’s first time competing in the Michigan Ringman Championship. He is semi-retired and always looking to assist any auctioneer or auction company in any way that he can.

Auctioneer Frank C. Leist received the highest distinction of being inducted into the Michigan Auctioneer Association’s Hall of Fame on Feb. 1, during the President’s Ball which concluded the annual conference.

Current Michigan Auctioneer Association Hall of Fame members vote each year on whether to induct nominated members into their midst. Leist’s career was recognized as worthy of induction after considering his years in the industry, high standard of professionalism, business integrity and contributions to the industry and auctioneer association

Leist’s auction career has spanned five decades selling primarily livestock, estates, farm dispersals and real estate; he graduated from the Reich World Wide College of Auctioneering in 1984, and returned after graduation and promptly went to work building a successful auction business. His career has since seen him sell hundreds of auctions, dozens of farms, and countless estates including some totaling well more than a million dollars.

Leist knew early in life that he wanted to be an auctioneer. As early as grade school he shared his talents on the school bus by auctioning off his sister’s lunch, a stunt that earned the dismay of his mother, Ruth Leist. After auction school Leist’s first auction netted a meager $100 commission. Leist and his wife, Janet, invested their first commission into their fledgling business by purchasing office equipment.

Though he’s conducted auctions in virtually every niche of the industry, Leist’s real passion has always been as a livestock auctioneer. After graduating high school in 1973, he learned about livestock auctions by hauling cattle to the Gaylord Stockyard. In 1979 he and his father, Frank Sr., began hauling cattle to the Marion Stockyards where Frank would soon begin working as their auctioneer. Leist quickly and steadily became one of the busiest livestock auctioneers in the state, selling every week at markets in Marion, Clare and Alpena. During this time Frank was recognized by the Livestock Marketing Association as their Region 1 Champion Auctioneer from 1996 1999.

In 2000, Leist stopped working at the Marion Stockyards and began managing the stockyard in Gaylord. He and his wife would purchase that stockyard two years later and name it Northern Michigan Livestock. Frank continued to sell for his close friends Bud Gernaat in Clare and Gene Hanson in Alpena until both men passed away. He continues to call bids and manage Northern Michigan Livestock during their weekly livestock auction on Wednesdays.

Leist, his cousin Jerry Schmoldt, along with Ed and Wade all currently manage dozens of auctions each year as Leist Auctioneers. Their company continues to grow and adapt within the industry to feature traditional live auctions, as well as online and simulcast auctions. Adapting to current trends has helped Leist Auctioneers manage a multitude of asset classes to meet the needs of their clients.

Established in 1951, the Michigan Auctioneers Association is dedicated to the enhancement of Michigan’s Auction Industry through education, promotion, advocacy and networking. The MAA is the professional association for auctioneers in Michigan, continuing to be one of the leaders in the industry, and is proving to continue in that direction in the future.  The Michigan Auctioneers Association is the largest representation of auctioneers in Michigan, providing a forum for networking, sharing ideas and experiences.  For more information about the Michigan Auctioneers Association and the auction industry in Michigan, log onto