"Mega-fast, smooth talker could be the nation's best!"
Tue Apr 11 2006
By Jen Skerritt
HE can sell anything from cattle to a brand-new Hummer, spot when a slight flick of the wrist is a bid and
articulate "Betty bought a bit of butter" at warp speed.
Auctioneer Tim Dowler knew by the time he was nine years old he wanted to be at the front of a crowd, and
last weekend his lightning-fast mouth helped make him a champion.
On Saturday, Dowler beat out a dozen other auctioneers from Manitoba and Saskatchewan to win the Manitoba
Saskatchewan Livestock Auctioneering Championship in Melita, Man. He's now heading to Kamloops, B.C. on May 12 to compete
against more than 30 auctioneers from across Canada for the national title.
"It's kind of funny because I don't really talk fast in conversations," he said, after belting out a string
of cattle prices in a mere few seconds. "I'm just living my dream."
Contestants were judged on their style, timing, rhythm, clarity and mannerism, and Irene Nickel, secretary-treasurer
of the Manitoba Auctioneers Association, said Dowler was a cut above the rest.
Nickel said Dowler does a good job of engaging his audience and always ensures the bidder's voice gets heard.
Dowler has been competing in the annual championship since 1999, and ranked among the top six finalists in the past five years.
"He has a very good rapport with the crowd," Nickel said. "He's got a friendly face and he's easy to listen
Dowler spent two weeks in 1995 learning the trade at the Auctioneering Institute of Canada in Strathmore,
Alta., where he honed his tongue-twisting skills and learned how to train his eye to catch multiple bids at once. Since 1997,
he has been working as a full-time auctioneer for Winnipeg Livestock Sales, Adesa Auto Auctions and his own auction company,
Lamport and Dowler Auction Service.
In a few short years, Dowler has sold hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of merchandise, ranging from
household antiques to high-end luxury automobiles. He's worked 18-hour days, stood in front of demanding crowds and been called
"every dirty name in the book" by sour losing bidders. But for Dowler, the high-pressure environment is all part of the rush.
Even after being laid off for three months during the height of the mad cow crisis, Dowler said he couldn't
imagine doing anything else as a career.
"I love it too much to let it go," he said. "I don't think there's any higher rush than when you're selling
a pen full of cattle worth $100,000."
Dowler said the auctioneering industry is constantly becoming more competitive, and he estimates that there
are between 200 and 300 live auctioneers working across the province.
He said the secret to his non-slurring success is warming up with several tongue-bending sentences and practising
in the shower.