Black Diamond Auctions - Auction... It's always been a good idea.
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Nov. 15th, 2017


It was going to be a long day, there was no way around it. We knew that going in. The yard was full in the morning.  An hour before the auction,we were short tables and trailers. It was cold and raining, however we had planned for it. We were going to start early, and move into two “rings” (two separate auctions) an hour into the sale. We had most of the items tarped to protect from the rain and we were just about ready to go when something else happened. In the 30 plus years Black Diamond Auctions has been doing auctions it had only happened one other time. We worked through it. But today this problem would be significant.


It was 8:55, and Frank started with announcements.  Then the power went out.


“Got a light?”


We looked at the business on the other side of the street, the power was out there too. We started the auction and ran off batteries, understanding that we couldn’t run two rings on battery power, and that our computer system would run out of power well before the auction was over. Joe Imholte drove  to get a generator. When he returned,we couldn’t get the generator running. At one point, Frank left to attempt to start the generator leaving me (Mike) to auction and clerk at the same time.

A second generator was needed. Off Joe wen to secure a second generator, and gas for the first one. All the while, we persisted with fingers crossed that our batteries would hold out until they returned. They did. We connected two generators, one to our food stand, the other to our clerking trailer, and auctioned over the noise, working the whole day with this setback and no house power.

I speak for the entire Black Diamond auction team when I say we prefer standard power. Let’s hope that we will not need to work another auction without power.


Sept. 1st 2017


Repurposing Auctions Items


I sat down with Vienna Hansen to talk about Repurposing items from auctions.

She recommends before you start with projects you must have an understanding of how much time you need to complete your projects and what you can finish. If you only have a couple hours a week, don’t take on a first project that will take ten hours to finish.

Move forward with a plan. When starting this project look for what you want to do. Do you have a theme or design? A room to complete? A color? A style? Make some pieces for yourself that you like first, plus that will help with the next step.

If you want to become a vendor of repurposed pieces you need to make the connections to become a vendor.  Before building pieces to be sold in bulk, you need to have some pieces you can show off to potential buyers who will purchase pieces from you. This is imperative because if you skip this step, it can mess up the entire plan.  This is important to do before you start repurposing pieces to sell.

Why auctions? Because pieces are often priced up because they can be repurposed many times pieces will be a much more expensive buy from other distributors or stores. Whereas often times at auctions you can find a great piece at a lower price, cutting out the middleman.

When all the other steps are taken care of and you’re starting, buy many pieces that are similar. That way you can do the same job, get better at it, and then finish them together saving a lot of time. Truly good advice for us all, thanks Vienna.





August 14th, 2017


My favorite Auction Buy and my approach


Over the years I have had a surprisingly few auction buys. I can probably count on my two hands the number of times I’ve actually bought things for myself on auction. Out of everyone in our family, I possibly have bought the least things on auction, so for me it’s a bit easier to say what my favorite item was that I bought on auction.

I want to share one of my favorite buys. I’m going to explain what it was, how I approached bidding on it, and how I feel I made a good purchase. The item in question is a 46 inch Panasonic HD TV.


Before the Auction, I was able to look up the TV by serial number on Amazon. Used, it was selling for $600.  Since it was possible I looked at the picture quality. Everything seemed to be in order. There were some scratches on the frame of the TV ,but I wasn’t worried about that because you don’t watch the frame of the TV. Before it came up, I had a top budgeted price of $300.00 for the TV. At that price it would be a steal.


I was working in another “Ring” (Ring meaning a separate auction happening at the same time) of the auction so I didn’t have time to adequately get a good feel for how the bidding was going in this ring of the auction. My brother was working the ring so I asked him how bidding was going. He told my people were waiting until every item in the ring came down to twenty or fifty dollars then bidding it back up to it’s value and suggested I start it high so people didn’t bid against me.

When it came time to bid on the TV the auctioneer asked for $200.00. Immediately I bid. I actually surprised the auctioneer when I did that. He asked if anyone else wanted to bid for thirty seconds and no one bid. I won the TV for one hundred dollars less than I budgeted.

So what steps did I take to ensure I was happy with my purchase? I did research on the piece I wanted, I made sure it worked, I asked the crew for information on the bidding of the crowd, and I used that information to win the bid at less than I expected. And that’s how I approached my favorite auction buy.



July 31st, 2017


Furniture at Auctions

Like buying furniture? For the most part you can get great deals on furniture on auctions. However, you don’t typically have someone with a learned eye for furniture telling you what to look for in quality.  It’s very possible that a piece looks good but isn’t high quality. Today I’ll take you through what makes a good quality piece of furniture and a couple of quick things to look for that will help you with the basics of buying furniture at auctions. I  did sell furniture at a furniture store some years ago and have some knowledge on it.


Woods: This applies to all furniture and very universal. There are three kinds of woods, each one of them has their strengths and weaknesses.


Solid wood: This is heavier, a more solid look, stronger, built to last longer because it’s in larger thicker pieces. When looking at solid wood, make note of knots in the wood. Is there many? Are there many cracks in the wood? Are there many scratches/water marks? These pieces typically last longer and significantly heavier than other woods. Since these are larger pieces of wood, they are far more susceptible to warping. If water spills on them, make sure to wipe it off soon as possible.


Veneers: Veneers are thin pieces of higher quality wood with lower quality bases. They are typically lower quality than solid wood, lighter, but look more aesthetic than particleboard or composite wood. Veneers also typically have a fine finish and can look like solid wood but are not.


Particleboard of Composite wood: Made up of scraps of wood put together makes it the lightest, least expensive, and often times most fragile. There are workarounds to this that could make these pieces long lasting. For instance, if the piece is made up of multiple layers of composite wood/particleboard, they can be very sturdy. For the most part, these pieces look good, tend to be less expensive, but will not last nearly as long as solid wood, or even veneer pieces.


And now for the furniture pieces

Cabinets and Dressers: When looking for cabinets, dressers, or anything with drawers pull out the drawers, feel how smooth they move. Do they get caught in movement? Is the movement fluid, what kind of noise does it make? Do the drawers look and feel like they fit perfectly into the dresser? These questions coupled with your knowledge of different types of woods will help you make a much more informed decision when you’re buying these pieces.


Chairs and Couches: a “stationary” piece is one that doesn’t rock or recline. These feature takes a lot of space under the chair, space that is often time devoted to stabilizing and making the chair comfortable. This doesn’t  mean that a recliner can’t be long lasting, but it’s something to be aware of.


Chair Construction: Pad the sides of the chair: does it feel hollow? The edges: do they feel sturdy? Does it seem to have any framing that goes through the middle of the sides? Flip the chair over, look at the bottom, what does the framing look like? Is there any brackets or wooden pieces to support the frame? Is there any pieces underneath helping hold the chair together? Typically the more going on under the chair the higher quality of chair you’re looking at.


Chair Padding: This one is pretty easy. Does the chair look deflated? Do you know how long they’ve had it? Can you ask someone? Open up the chair if there is an easily accessible zipper, look at the padding yourself.


Sit in the chair: seriously, sit in it. This should be the first step of the process but some people still skip it.


It’s an auction. You set the price. Shop wisely.



July 7th, 2017

I’ve said before in this blog and other places that the auction industry is a big family. Industries and companies say that often but for auctioneers to really rings true. For the short period I’ve been an auctioneer, I have seen auctioneers share and grow together through conferences, training, designation courses, and seminars. I have working friends and colleagues from Hawaii to Virginia in the auction industry. Through these people I have learned much and gotten the opportunity to share ideas I have grown and will continue to grow.


This blog is about one such colleague. The honest truth is I only met him twice. But in those two meetings I saw such a passion and flame for life and the auction industry. I couldn’t wait to get to know him more over my time as an auctioneer. He spoke to me wielding a strong southern accent and even though both rooms were filled with auctioneers with much more experience, influence, and talent than I, he went out of his way to get to know me better.


I met him first at the Minnesota State Auctioneers Association Conference and Show in January. He was a speaker flown in from Alabama. After spending the weekend with us, he joined the MSAA because he loved the people here. That isn’t where I really moved out of my comfort zone, and talked to him though. At the MSAA Conference and Show I’m in my comfort zone. I know a fair amount of people there and I can move fluidly from auctioneer I know to auctioneer I know.


That wasn’t true at the State Leadership Conference (SLC). At the SLC I knew a grand total of three people, and all were from Minnesota. I made a concerted effort to talk to other leaders in the Industry and did I ever enjoy it.

I made plenty of new friends, and had some great conversations. As I was leaving I started telling people “See you next year at SLC” because the idea of not coming back hadn’t even occurred to me. This man was the very example of who I met at SLC. People on fire, and passionate for their work, helping others, and seeing auctioneers succeed. Even twenty somethings coming to SLC without knowing quite why.

His death took me unaware. How could it happen? I’ve seen him active, learned about him, laughed with him. He was too alive to no longer be. He was one of the ten people I had singled out as people I wanted to learn from in any way possible over my next years in the auction Industry. The idea that I might never see him again never even crossed my mind.

The auction family lost a son, a brother, a father when Scott King died. In nothing more than a couple encounters he affected me. I know his loss will affect others far greater than I but for myself I needed to say “Thanks Scott, You will be missed.” I wish I could have gotten to know you better.

Mike Imholte.



June 20th, 2017

What are the MSAA, and NAA? What does it mean? Is Black Diamond Auctions Involved in them?


The MSAA is the Minnesota State Auctioneers Association. The MSAA is the Association for Minnesota. Even more than that, it’s conference and show every year with an opportunity to network, learn about, and from the industry professionals in auctions. Frank Imholte joined the MSAA in 1979 and has been a member since. Other Members of the Black Diamond Auction team that are members include Peg, Andy, Katie, Erich, Joe and Mike.


Black Diamond is more than just members of the MSAA. In 1992 Frank was the President of the Association. In 2011 Andy was the President. Andy and Frank are previous members of the Board of Directors of the MSAA and Mike is currently on the board. Frank currently holds the title of Executive Vice President of the MSAA and has since 2003.. Andy has given many presentations on marketing and design among other topics at the MSAA conference and show as well as at other State Conferences.  Next year Mike will be presenting on personality styles. Black Diamond Auctions has won many awards for marketing and advertising over the years. Frank, Andy, Katie, Joe, and Mike have all competed in the MSAA Bid Calling Contest.


The NAA is the National Auctioneers Association. Frank Imholte became a member of the NAA in 1984, and many a family vacation revolved around where the NAA Conference and Show took place. Other members of the NAA from Black Diamond Auctions include Peg, Andy, Katie, and Erich. Andy has presented at NAA Conference and Show. Black Diamond Auctions has won awards at the NAA Marketing Contest. Katie is signed up to compete in the IAC  

(International Auctioneer Contest) this year. Both Peg and Frank had the opportunity to be judges for the IAC in the past. A fun fact is that Frank Imholte was one of 100 Collectable Auctioneers Cards created to highlight members in attendance to get to know each other at past conferences.





May 23rd, 2017

Consignment Auction?

What is it? Why a consignment auction? What does it mean? How do I bid?


What is it? A Consignment Auction is an auction where instead of having one seller there are multiple sellers.


Why Consign Items? Perhaps you have recently bought a new lawn mower or snow blower and have no need for your old one. Most people don’t have a way to make money from of an item worth a couple hundred dollars. Maybe you don’t have enough for an auction on your own but you still want to make sure to sell and get money back for your product. Consigning items is a great way to get money back for value items for which you no longer have a need.. Black  Diamond Auction’s Consignment Auctions on Memorial Day and Labor Day bring in between 300 and 500 bidders and their families meaning that your one lawn mower, boat, or snow blower will have hundreds of potential buyers looking at it.


How do I consign? Each company treats their consignment process differently. Black Diamond Auction has two consignment auctions a year: Memorial Day and Labor Day.. To consign Items the first step is contacting Black Diamond Auctions via phone, email, facebook or meeting with one of us in person. After discussing what you want to consign, we’ll set up a meeting or time and place for you to bring your product. Because of the time of year there are only a couple months of the year we are taking product for the consignment auction. Because of how large the consignment auction is, the earlier you contact us the more likely it is we can help you sell your valuables.


Anything I missed? Any more Questions? Contact us at Black Diamond Auctions and see you at our next Consignment Auction!


Our Memorial Day Auction starts at 8:00 a.m., check our website for more details,



May 5, 2017

What should I know about bidding at auctions to feel more confident?


“Okay the winning bidder will grab choice at two times the money, back up bidder gets choice at two times the money, then we’ll open it up to everyone else. After that we’ll sell it all to go.” Huh? What?


Don’t worry if you don’t understand anything I just wrote. It can be very jarring to come into an auction, especially if you come into one in the middle and you haven’t heard what any of those words means. Here’s a couple explanations starting from the beginning.


Winning Bidder: when the bidding comes to a stop the last person to bid on an item is the winning bidder. This person will have raised a hand when the auctioneer is “Calling for a number.” by raising a hand that person is forming a contract to pay that amount, assuming someone else doesn’t bid higher.

Choice: When selling manying things at once, the winning bidder will chose an item to be bought out of that group. The winning bidder will have “first choice” of all the product being sold which brings us to the next term.


Times the money: When the chant comes to an end during choice, you’ll have many options on what you want to buy. If you want more than one item or box, you can take “two times the money” or three or four, take multiple items at one time, before someone else gets a chance to buy them.


Backup bidder: The Backup bidder is the person who most recently was outbid by the winning bidder, for being the backup bidder they typically get second choice before any other bidders.


Open it up to everyone: At this point anyone else can take choice.  The previous rules apply.  This is typically first person to grab product gets it.


All to Go: A term when selling a group of products at one price. Everything in this group will be sold for “one money” or one price.

Now that you have all the terminology, you can go out there and bid with more confidence!  Enjoy your next auction.  We will be looking for you and be willing to answer your questions.




April 12, 2017

Can you talk fast? Yes. Well that was a quick answer. The real question is “How do you talk fast?” The mouth is a muscle like any other part of the body. The auction chant is an art that requires focused and practiced muscle control, just like pitching a baseball, shooting a basketball, or riding a bike.


But what is the first step? Getting your mouth comfortable pronouncing things uncomfortably. The most common way to do this is practice tongue twisters. I didn’t realize there were patterns we’re comfortable and uncomfortable speaking, sounds and pronunciations that can and should go together and ones that take time to master. Certain sounds require a certain lip movement.


After a couple times through “Betty Botter” you begin to realize as you attempt to speed up there are sounds that strain and require practice and muscle retraining to use. Just like if you want to run a faster mile, you need to run more. If you want to seamlessly auction, use words quickly and effectively,  you need to start understanding the types of lip movement, number of syllables, and pronunciation of words.


Sounds easy, right? Throw in the fact that all numbers don’t have the same syllable count. Coming from a music background I think of my chant in 3/4, 4/4, 5/4, and occasionally 6/4. Tempo has to be able to slow down and speed up.  You need to be able to take the bridge in your song when you need some more time. You might need to say a whole sentence in the middle of your chant, possibly to ask for something or to entertain a crowd. Then take into account you need to read a crowd, turn on a dime, and keep track of all the numbers in your head.

Now you know the basics, time to get started with your tongue twisters.


Mike Imholte was elected to the MSAA Board of Directors, but what does that mean? The MSAA (Minnesota State Auctioneers Association) is an organization of licensed Auctioneers. With the support of its membership, the association works to promote the auction profession. They are governed by an annually-elected president, vice-president, executive vice president, and nine board members.  Our very own Frank Imholte is the Executive Vice President. It is a position he’s held for over fifteen years.


What does being a director of the MSAA entail? The Board meets at least four times a year to meet and discuss pertinent problems and opportunities facing the auction industry throughout the U.S. and Minnesota specifically.  The board speaks on behalf of the general population of the MSAA.  Each Director is placed on a committee with different goals and projects to work on throughout the year some of the committees are the foundation fundraising auction, the marketing contest, membership/public relations and election/sergeant at arms. Aside from these duties, each board member writes multiple articles for publication in the MSAA magazine and supplement. Board members also take extra training and learn more about the industry through events such as “Day at the Capital and NAA (National Auctioneers Association) training which Mike is taking part in this year.

Black Diamond Auctions is proud of it’s activity in the MSAA as both Frank and Andy Imholte are past  presidents and board members. Mike is in his second year as a member of the MSAA. He grew up going to conferences and can’t wait to become a larger part of this organization that has been so intrical a part of his family and work.

Black Diamond Auctions • 8160 Co RD 138 • St. Cloud, MN 56301
Phone (320) 255-9398 •

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