BY CHUCK VANDENBERG
FORT MADISON – He hasn’t walked across the stage to get a diploma, or flip a tassle. But he’s ahead of his class for sure.
Holy Trinity Catholic senior Mason Holvoet worked his way through auctions in Iowa, Illinois, and Missouri, squirreled away some money and now, at just 17, owns his own auction and real estate company.
Without any funding help from family or loans, which he’s too young for anyway, Holvoet paid an attorney, bought a truck, bought a topper to call from, built a website and now is a legitimate business owner.
Oh yeah…and he’s also the president of the Fort Madison High School Future Farmers of America and has been class president at Holy Trinity for the past four years.
He can’t drink a beer, but he can hold a conversation with just about anyone in the room, and talks of his passion and excitement for auctioneering like a seasoned pro.
It would actually be kinda tough to prove he’s not one.
Holvoet owns Premier Auction and Realty Services LLC, out of Wever, and has been building and promoting his business for the past three months. As a senior, he qualified for an internship program at HTC and works for Sharpless Auctions in Iowa City on Wednesdays. The auction is the largest weekly auction in the state.
But he got his start calling one item at God’s Portion Day when he was in fourth grade. The next year he was able to call a couple more items and this year, as a senior, he had his own time slot from noon to 6 p.m.
Holvoet said he doesn’t even consider what has become his passion, work.
“I’ll never work a day in my life because I enjoy what I’m doing. I truly do mean that. Some people hate going into work, but I love it,” he said.
“Others in my class, who have jobs here or there, complain and moan about going in. I never complain about going to work and it’s a joyous thing when you can say that. It really is.”
With auctions becoming more scarce with the advent of computers and online auctions, he said that auctioneers are becoming a dying breed.
“If you look around, there’s a need for auctioneers,” Holvoet said. “I think there’s a strong future in this. Auctioneers stand the test of the time. Even in an economic downfall, people still have to liquidate their merchandise, so we’ll be here to sell it.”
He spent time going to auctions with his father when he was little and thought it was something he could do even as a younger child. But now he speaks to the business like he’s an older generation bibbed-up auction enthusiast.
Technology has changed the face of auctions, he said, comparing the craft to half a century ago – a time he could carry no reference.
“I always say the auction business has changed more in the past 10 years than it has in the last 50 with the new technology coming in,” he said.
“Online auctions was a big curve for the older guys. They didn’t want to convert from a live-chain auction to going completely online. We’ll do both – onsite or online – whichever works best for the client.”
Holvoet said he wanted to work with other people first to get an education about how other auction companies do things. He’s sold in Illinois, Iowa, and Missouri.
He gives credit to other auctioneers as well as family and friends for helping. He said the opportunities are what has set him up for success.
“It doesn’t matter how good you are in the business, it all depends on who wants to give you an opportunity to take a chance. But that’s just with anything. It’s a risk. We’re trying and I’m young enough that I can afford to take the risk.”
Despite embarking on his own adventure rolling around the tri-state area helping people liquidate property and helping with fundraisers, which would seem to most to be a full-time gig, Holvoet still plans to attend Southeastern Community College after graduation and pursue a degree in business management.
The Premier Auction website can be found at https://premierauctionandrealty.com/ or by calling 319-470-7372.
Holvoet said he’s has a few hiccups because of his age, but nothing that wasn’t overcome with some partnerships and guidance. As a 17-year old, he can’t sign any real estate papers, but has partnered with a Quad Cities real estate company to help until he turns 18 and gets a real estate license.
He also thought he would have trouble getting insurance, but he said Two Rivers came through for him.
“I have so many people to thank for where I am right now. I couldn’t have done it without them. Family, mentors, other auctioneers who gave me a chance to work. It’s all come together at the right time.”