Auto auction folks turn giveaway into something more

I was enjoying the hospitality extended by the folks of Auction Broadcasting Co. at the National Auto Auction Association convention in San Francisco this month when a giveaway turned into a show of patriotism and generosity.

Bob Rauchsenberg, a partner at the Indianapolis company, asked me to draw a business card from a fish bowl.

The person whose card was drawn would be the winner of a sleek new Honda XR250 motorcycle.

Tom Kniivila, remarketing manager at Volkswagen Credit/Audi Financial, won the $4,500 dirt bike.

But Kniivila did not keep his prize.

He and the folks at Auction Broadcasting and the auction association put their heads together and used the motorcycle to raise $50,000 for the American Red Cross relief efforts, including aid to victims of the Sept. 11 attacks in New York and Washington.

The motorcycle was sold during the National Auto Auction "Grand Banquet" on Oct. 6 during what is referred to as a "Chinese auction" — that means that a winning bidder would surrender their funds and the motorcycle for further bidding.

With newly installed National Auto Auction President Ray Nichols and immediate past-president Kenny Osborn taking turns as auctioneers, the motorcycle was bought and sold four times, raising $43,400 in the process.

Auction Broadcasting kicked in another $6,600 to make it an even $50,000.

According to Auction Broadcasting spokeswoman Starla McHugh, the bidding was high-energy fun and would have gone on all night if the bidders had had their way. She said the money will be given to American Red Cross officials in Washington sometime within the next month.

Other bidders and donors were:

Ellie Johnson, Manheim's Aycock Auction, Kenly, N.C.; Patty Stanley, Carolina Auto Auction, Andersen, S.C.; Gary Gilley, Manheim's San Diego Auto Auction, Oceanside, Calif.; Tom Caruso, ADESA Corp.; Bill Arnold and Greg Gehman, Manheim Auto Auction, Manheim, Pa., and Jay Cadigan, Manheim's Skyline Auto Exchange, Fairfield N.J.

Kniivila, the guy who got the ball rolling and who has been a motorcycle rider for 40 years, pronounced the fund-raising event "a pretty cool thing."

I'm sure a lot of other people agree.

You can reach Arlena Sawyers at asawyers@crain.com

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