Hammer Time: The Trade

Steven Lang
by Steven Lang
hammer time the trade

I don’t believe in charity. I believe in help and I believe in profit. A sick or dying child may need my help… and I’ll give them everything I can. But an able bodied human being will only get one simple thing from me. A trade. Knowledge, money, work, things, emotions. I’ve traded everything in my life as did my father and grandfather. Horses, mules, cars, houses, fancy foods of every flavor you can imagine. It gave us an education. A family. A “happily ever after”. Everything we ever desired in our lives came true from the pursuit of profit and the willingness to trade… and of course share…

99+% of the car dealers and auctioneers in my business value money above all else. Whether they pretend to be a Christian or fool their customers into believing they have a giving heart, at the end of the day it’s all about the money. For me, money was my absolute number one for my first two years in this business

If my tips as an auctioneer or ringman weren’t more than the pittance I was given from the auto auction, I was pissed off as hell. Every day I worked my ass off to be the absolute best in my work. I didn’t always have the right ingredients. But I constantly took good notes and studied the best auctioneers and ringmen I could find. A nice conversation. A befriending and a lot of practice lead to career and success. I helped them with auctioning in Spanish or investing in good companies (an easy thing in 1999). They helped me with building relationships and finding opportunities. Within six months I had regular weekly gigs at six different auto auctions in four different states. It was a beautiful time.

Everyone was my friend, even if they hated me in private, because everyone knew I brought something useful to their table. That kid Stevie Lang may have only been 26. But when I was on the block or in the lane, I had the manipulative mind of a 62 year old charmer and my job… was to use my powers of persuasion to create the urgency to buy. An inflection of voice. The right word. The right implicit use of eye contact, hand or body gesture. Even an open hand instead of a pointed finger conveyed a sense of openness, a belonging, a mutual goodwill that would get a far more experienced man to trust me. It was power and beauty and it lead to over 500 successful auctions in 2 years.

But it wasn’t enough in the end. Auctioneering is like a merry go round. You get up and go on your horse. Go through all the highs and lows of the ride and when it’s finished… the horses are still there. Sure my horses were cars and it appeared that most of them did actually leave the barn. But they were replaced every week with horses that were exactly alike from Ford, GM, Chrysler, Toyota, Nissan and every other nameplate in this business. It was a nice ride. But I wanted to own the amusement park. Not be an old man stuck in the same rut of ups and downs using the same tricks and selling the same types of cars to the same dealers. So after receiving a $200 cash tip from an old friend who later built his own auction, I went forth in all my youth and arrogance to the green pastures of Duke University.

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3 of 21 comments
  • BuzzDog BuzzDog on May 26, 2010

    Several years ago, when a subcontractor was bidding on some work on my house, the owner pointed to his truck plastered with decals of a fish and John 3:16 and said, "We're a Christian company." I said, "As a devout Catholic, I'm uncomfortable when the Lord's name is used in vain. And from the New Testament, remember that Jesus chased the money changers out of the temple." I practically had to scrape the guy's chin off of my driveway. He's also no longer in business.

  • 50merc 50merc on May 26, 2010

    Contrary to widespread belief, it is not always about the money. For some people, it is all about old Ford station wagons.

  • FifaCup Loving both Interior and exterior designs.
  • FifaCup This is not good for the auto industry
  • Jeff S This would be a good commuter vehicle especially for those working in a large metropolitan area. The only thing is that by the time you put airbags, backup cameras, and a few of the other required safety features this car would no longer be simple and the price would be not much cheaper than a subcompact. I like the idea but I doubt a car like this would get marketed in anyplace besides Europe and the 3rd World.
  • ScarecrowRepair That's what I came to say!
  • Inside Looking Out " the plastic reinforced with cotton waste used on select garbage vehicles assembled by the Soviet Union. "Wrong. The car you are talking about was the product German engineering, East German. It's name was Trabant.