Q&A with Merle Booker
President and owner of Booker Auction Company/ Western Real Estate Auctions
Number of employees you oversee: 8 to 25 depending on sale
Brief background of your business: It is a family business that has grown by providing professional productive marketing advice and services, selling a variety of assets.
How did you land your current role? How long have you been in it? My father D.L. Booker was an auctioneer and offered me a partnership in the business 44 years ago.
You recently were inducted into the National Auctioneers Association Hall of Fame. How does it feel to receive this honor? It is extremely humbling and I am somewhat in awe. I am honored to be recognized by my NAA peers and fellow auctioneers.
What is the biggest challenge facing auction businesses today? Today’s challenges are keeping current with the ever-changing buying and selling platforms and meeting the needs of our clients and customers.
What’s the most common comment or question you get about auctions? “Oh! You can talk really fast” and “What do you sell?”
What makes a good auctioneer/auction? Someone who understands the value of the assets being sold and has an understanding and empathy of the client’s needs, as well as how to advertise to reach the appropriate market.
Well maintained assets and/or property that has not been on the market before, as well as motivated sellers.
What is one characteristic that you believe every leader should possess? Integrity. Honesty with your clients, customers and employees provides for long-lasting relationships.
What advice would you give someone going into a leadership position for the first time? Follow the advice or example of proven and successful leaders and businesses.
Who are your role models or mentors? My parents D.L. and Colleen Booker. They had a great work ethic and set goals.
Ted Potter was influential and a great real estate mentor.
How do you keep your employees motivated? By making sure they get a paycheck and when the company does well, everyone receives bonuses.
How did you decide to pursue your career? My father offered me the opportunity and there was a need for a young, energetic auctioneer.
How do you measure success in your workplace? By fulfilling the expectations of our clients and having repeat satisfied customers.
What is your leadership style? Laidback, allowing employees the opportunity to excel in their talents.
How do you balance work and family? I am fortunate to work with my family on a daily basis. It allows me the opportunity to watch my children grow and develop as adults professionally and also to be around the grandkids more frequently, while also involving them in the business as well. We frequently have family get-togethers where we try not to talk business while enjoying dinners, sports or beach vacations.
How do you spend your free time? I enjoy my grandkids, fishing, hunting, flying and enjoy everything that Mother Nature has provided around the Columbia Basin and the United States.
Best tip to relieve stress? Gardening, my livestock herd (sometimes), flying airplanes or helicopters and fishing.
Most-used app? Camera, weather app, MyRadar Pro and ForeFlight.
Favorite book? John Grisham books and several early American history books.
Favorite TV show? Favorite movie? “MASH” and most Westerns. Favorite movies: “Top Gun” and “Hoosiers.”
Do you have a personal mantra, phrase or quote you like to use? This is from my father, a survivor of the Battle of the Bulge in World War II: “Just pay attention around you to everything going on.” I believe it pertains and works in life and business, too.
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