Paul Bridgeman, of Dedman Gray Auction, is an auctioneer, but more than that, he is the auctioneers’ auctioneer.
The 38-year-old has just been elected to the role of president of the National Association of Valuers and Auctioneers (Nava), the UK governing body for his profession.
Property auctioneer Paul has wasted no time in setting out his stall as president. The core issue is one he returns to time and again in our conversation.
He says: “There is a public perception auctions are all about property dealers acquiring cheap repossessions, but I’ve been involved with only one auction like that over the past three years.”
Paul, who has been on the Nava committee since 2009, is very happy to describe himself as “ambitious”.
Based in Warwick, Nava embraces auctioneers from every field, ranging from those selling cars to cattle.
His work as president is largely confined to his spare time. His day-to-day work routines at Dedman Gray are unaffected. These revolve around the Thorpe Bay firm’s bi-monthly auctions. The events are usually held at Southend Airport’s Holiday Inn hotel, although there are exceptions. One recent auction was held in Maldon’s ancient Moot Hall.
During the periods between auctions, the work involves dealing with clients, agreeing reserve prices and preparing the next auction catalogue.
Paul says a growing number of people are choosing the auction route as a way to sell property.
He says: “It suits those who need to sell quickly, because, for instance, they need to move abroad, or because they plan to move in with an elderly relative.
“Auctions also remove a lot of the uncertainty from property sales. In English law, once the gavel descends, the deal is done.”
Paul describes auctioneering as “a passion”.
He is drawn to the excitement and the sense of theatre.
He says: “For a lot of the time, it’s an easy job. It’s when things don’t go to plan that you really draw on your skills.
“For instance, you quickly get to sense the atmosphere of an auction room. Sometimes the mood is a bit sluggish and you need to provide a warm-up act to get the bidding really going. It’s about improvising on your feet. My old boss used to say auctioneers should have Rada training.”
“When I was 16, I would never ever have dreamed about becoming an auctioneer.”
He left his Chelmsford school as soon as possible and had no idea what he wanted to do.
But he was keen to start work and found a job at an estate agent, where he discovered “a knack for selling properties and also a flair for customer relations”.
He was asked to run an auction department in Glasgow. Even at that stage, he was not involved directly in auctioneering, just administering the sale room.
Then one day someone offered him the chance to conduct an auction, and he has never looked back. Ultimately, Paul stresses, the job is “about people more than it is about property”.
AUCTION ROOM BUZZ ‘ADDICTIVE’
Worst experience at work:
“When I was in Glasgow, someone threatened to shoot me. The police took him away. It was a scary time.”
“A man named Mike Logan Wood, an ex cattle auctioneer, and a proper old English gent. I like to think that I might be like him one day.”
Alternative career path?
“I can’t imagine anything else. I’m addicted auction room buzz.”
“Honesty is the best policy. Lies will come back and bite”