Hagelstrom bids to add new ways for auction work to pay off for customers

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By Jeremy Johnson

FORT LUPTON — Former Fort Lupton resident and local business owner, Butch Hagelstrom Jr., isn’t just a fast talker. He’s a problem solver.

And he likes to think he’s getting better at it.

The relative newbie auctioneer who has had an office in Fort Lupton for more than a year said he thinks of his Buckhorn Auction Services as a business that “helps families solve their problems.”

“We’ve always been in a position of helping people,” Hagelstrom said. “I think we have a good reputation, and I like to think I’m an affable and cordial guy not apt to take advantage. But then, that’s how I was raised.”

Despite having that business savvy and the basic nature of a good auctioneer, it took a sixth sense for Hagelstrom to get into the business in the first place: He said it was his blind wife, Sylvia, who first saw auctioneering as a potential career choice, rather than a passing interest.

“I came back one day after helping some other guys I knew with a sale — I wasn’t in the auction business at the time — and (my wife) said ‘Boy, it seems like you really enjoy this stuff. So, why haven’t you ever done it?’” Hagelstrom related. “Being totally blind, I sometimes think she sees better than anybody else.”

Having seen the light, Hagelstrom packed it in on more than four decades of security services and began “solving problems.”

Namely, what to do with all this stuff?

“A people business”

Since jumping into the auction biz in 2007 — around the same time many might consider early retirement — Hagelstrom has taken his job seriously, amassing clients all along the Front Range by offering auction services for real estate, farm and ranches, equipment, business liquidations, estates, general consignment and benefit events. He’s had two major sales in just the last year alone. And all the while, he’s risen to the ranks of first vice president of the Colorado Auctioneers Association, and is poised to take over as president next January. 

Still, Hagelstrom strives for more.

“The end goal is to take my business to the next level,” he said. “Over the last year, I’ve gotten to a point where I feel I’ve been successful with it, but now I want to grow it more.”

That’s what prompted Hagelstrom to enroll in the prestigious Certified Auctioneers Institute, a premiere training program developed by the National Auctioneers Association and consisting of annual one-week seminars each March in Bloomfield, Ind. 

Hagelstrom, who finished his “first trimester” last month, said the course offers more than just training. Rather, it’s also an opportunity to network with other like-minded professionals across the nation.

“I thought (the CAI course) would be a good opportunity to get connected,” he said. “This is a good business, but it’s a people business, and so you have to have more than just your own efforts going for you. You have to rely on other folks from the standpoint of leads and information.”

This year’s CAI course also delved into the basics of proposals, something Hagelstrom said seems relatively simple, but is often done wrong.

“It sounds so simple because we’ve all done proposals,” he said. “But they can be all over the board. Basically, this helped provide an outline, a template … and I think it really helped me gain focus.

“I’ve used it a few times already and I think it’s sold the deal,” he added. “Because people who want to sell Mom and Dad’s stuff don’t really care that you’ve done benefit auctions. Instead, it’s ‘What can you do for me?’”

Community connections

When deciding where to locate his offices, Hagelstrom said Fort Lupton, where he and his wife lived for more than two decades before moving to Broomfield, was an obvious choice.

“We wanted to keep an office here because of all the people we know here,” he said. “We’re really fond of this area and that’s is one of the reasons we wanted this business to be a part of this community.”

Little did Hagelstrom know, he would in a way be carrying on a legacy started by another Fort Luptoner more than 40 years ago. Hagelstrom’s office once belonged to J. Lee Sears, a former Fort Lupton auctioneer and farmer whose lifelong polio affliction did nothing to dampen his entrepreneurial spirit and widespread impact on the community.

Sears also held a position that Hagelstrom will share come January 2016 — president of the Colorado Auctioneers Association.

“It’s funny how that worked,” Hagelstrom said. “Here I am in J. Lee Sears’ office. Talk about things happening for a reason.”

And like Sears before him, Hagelstrom is determined to represent his community with strong work ethics and a sense of good business. 

“When it comes to my business, it’s like you’re my brother, my family,” he said. “I will take good care of you.”

For more information on Buckhorn Auction Services, associated and certified through the U.S. Land Office, call 303-857-2399 or go online to www.buckhornauctions.com.

Contact Staff Writer Jeremy Johnson at 303-659-2522, ext. 217, or email jjohnson@metrowestnewspapers.com.