South Africa

Meet the Auctioneer #1 Clive Lazarus, Park Village Auctions

The Auctioneer website and email list is all about the auctions, each week we bring you every type of auction you can find in South Africa. While we know that the stock is what you want to see, we think it’s time you meet the Auctioneers who bring it to you. For our first interview we’re really proud to introduce a stalwart in the Auction Industry,
Clive Lazarus, Director and Head Auctioneer at Park Village Auctions (PVA)… lets see what he has to say…

Thanks for taking the time to answer our questions, Clive, could you give us a little back-story to your business.
PVA is a family-managed business. It was started in 1982 by Jack Lazarus and his three sons, Roy, Clive and Dean.

Do you have any pertinent lessons from your early years that have stayed with you since then?
~ Hard work is the cornerstone of success.
~ Stay humble.

In auctioneering you’re always serving these two clients, and the relationship with your clients is everything. You have to be upfront, honest, and always seek the best possible outcome for both your sellers and buyers (a win-win).

Exercise empathy – often times the seller is facing a tough situation and you need to be sensitive to that.

Park Village Auctions has been around for 35 years (which is amazing!) Besides this, what is your biggest achievement you celebrated as a company?
Thank you. Tough question, I can’t single-out one event or sale or milestone. I’d have to say that that our biggest achievement is having earned a reputation that causes us [PVA] to come to Business Rescue Practitioners and Liquidators’ minds first. This is possible because we have the infrastructure to cope with any size auction of any nature. We’ve been entrusted to handle some of the largest and high-profile liquidations in South Africa.

Have auctions changed much in 35 years?
Yes, a lot!

What major differences?
The process from start to finish is much faster now as sales are unconditional. Suspensive conditions, like waiting on bond approvals, can cause a matter to drag. These days there is a finite period in which buyers must produce guarantees following a sale. No guarantees; no sale.  

Anything that’s been lost along the way that you’d prefer to get back?
Due to the faster pace of business and auctions these days, the process can feel impersonal. We’re BC (before computers) the written correspondence used to follow a face to face meeting and not the other way around.

Any change that’s been positive?
Auctions have shaken off their stigma and are now often among a seller’s first choice for asset disposal.

Buyers are better protected thanks to greater audience education. This holds true for private buyers, in particular, who were reluctant in the past.

In your opinion, what has been the key to your success?
Unwavering determination and perseverance.

You dispose of pretty much any kind of asset: Which are your most consistently performing avenues?
It changes all the time, but most consistent would be cars and property. You need to know what you’re selling –that plays a critical role in performance.

Which are your favourite auctions to hold?
There’s so much more that goes into an auction than what people see on the day that the hammer falls. So, personally, my favourite auctions are the ones where we have reasonable and amicable participation with the seller and buyer behind the scenes.

What’s the most expensive thing you’ve auctioned?
Hmmm, single thing? That’s hard to say, we’ve sold a conglomerate of properties in the Maboneng Precinct, which was a single auction.

Care to share for how much?
There we fetched R130m in one day.

Who calls the bids at your auctions?
The Auctioneer along with the assistance of spotters.

Can you call bids?
Yes

Have you (or any of your other bid callers) ever entered a bid calling competition?
I’ve only ever participated as a judge with the National Auctioneer Association. I prefer to leave it to the ‘newlyweds’.

Can you explain why the auctioneer chant works?
It’s rhythmic, the beat quite literally sets the pace of the auction and creates momentum. Once a bidder catches the beat, it’s hard not to participate.  

How would you define a successful auction?
At the risk of sounding cliché again, the simple truth is that a successful auction fulfils your obligations towards the buyer and the seller.

What makes a great auctioneer?
A firm love for your craft. Auctioneering is a true art, and like any art, it takes at least a thousand hours to perfect. You have to love what you do and strive for continual improvement. You must know what you’re selling and understand the real value of the items. It’s up to you to conduct the orchestra when you’re up there.

If you had a piece of advice for an auctioneer starting out now, what would it be?
Well, right now given our current circumstance – run like mad! Covid-19 aside, I have 5 tips for starting out.
1.    Hard work is a prerequisite.
2.    Know your product.
3.    You need dedication to the long-haul. It’s a marathon, if you will.
4.    Always ensure a fair deal.
5.    Your reputation is your most important asset (next to your team).

What is your take on the auction industry in 2020? Before Covid-19 and its effects.
The economy was poor but things were starting to look up. It was getting busier and we saw investor numbers growing so we were in what I’d call a reasonable year. Now, people will probably start downscaling.

How do you feel about online auctions?
They are the future, undoubtedly.

Talking about Covid-19, what are you up while we’re in lock down? Has 5 weeks of reflection made you consider making some changes to how you do things?
As per the previous question, we’ve been working on our online auction strategies. We’ve also been refining our processes to increase efficiency and meet social distancing requirements in preparation for post-lockdown life.

We’ve enjoyed embracing virtual meetings, but, in saying that we’ve also honed other internal communication methods so we no longer need as many meetings.

Where do you think the auction industry will be in 1 year… 5 years?
Three words: In the cloud.
The face of auctions is going to change as we know it. This is a time where the industry will be adopting new technology-if not, creating it- to overcome some of the obstacles that digital auctions present. For example, physical previews. People will always need to inspect big-ticket items before purchase.

For all auction related information, contact Park Village Auctions on
011 789 4375 or go to
www.parkvillageauctions.co.za