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Auctioned Off: As business owners struggle, auction blocks get busier (access required)

By Sam Boykin MONROE — Gary Boyd’s deep, booming voice resonates in the air as he leads a cluster of men through the dusty, cluttered warehouse. Standing a few feet away is Bill O’Neal, who keeps the auction moving at a fast clip with his rapid-fire chant. The two men have worked together for years, and it shows in their finely tuned, back-and-forth rhythm. Today they’re at Consolidated Steel Services in Monroe, selling the last of the bankrupt company’s assets. Across the country, auctions like this have been happening with greater frequency as more companies succumb to the faltering economy. According to the National Auctioneers Association, $268 billion worth of equipment and goods was sold at auctions last year, compared to $217 billion in 2004. “We’re one of the few industries that are actually closing deals and completing transactions,” Deputy Executive Director Chris Longly said. Business liquidation auctions like the one held at Consolidated Steel Services on Nov. 17 is one of the industry’s fastest growing sectors. Auctioneers saw a 19.7 percent increase in gross revenue sales from auctioned-off commercial and industrial machinery from 2003 to 2008.

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