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Women running the show at Hockman Auctions

July 25, 2009|By BRANDON BIELTZ

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. - After years in the auction industry, Theresa Hockman and Brittani Keel finally are in the spotlight.

The two Martinsburg residents are running the show at Hockman Auctions.

Hockman, 46, is a 17-year veteran of the auction industry, having co-founded Hockman Auctions with her late husband, Donnie, in 1992.

The Hockmans got into the auction industry after Donnie started buying horses through auctions. Donnie found the auctions interesting and became involved in the business. Theresa followed.

Keel, 31, started in the auction industry eight years ago at Hockman Auctions, working as director of marketing. She also worked as an assistant to Donnie Hockman, helping during the auctions.

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Keel graduated from Shepherd University in 2000 with a degree in communications, not knowing what she wanted to do after college. Keel admits the thought of becoming an auctioneer never entered her mind while she was in college.

"I would have never dreamed of being an auctioneer," she said.

Keel said her study in communications has helped her in the auction industry, even though it wasn't the planned career path.

After all of their years working at auctions and in the industry, Theresa Hockman and Keel were ready to take the next step - becoming auctioneers.

Theresa Hockman said in order to become an auctioneer, a candidate must either be an apprentice to a licensed auctioneer for two years or go to a reputable auctioneering school and then be an apprentice for two months. Keel and Hockman chose the latter option.

The women enrolled in the Mendenhall School of Auctioneering in High Point, N.C., in the summer of 2008. Students at Mendenhall learn everything they need to know for an auction, from taking bids to breathing techniques.

The school's program is nine days long and includes 85 hours of instruction time, according to the school's Web site.

Hockman and Keel said they found going to the school instead of the two-year apprenticeship beneficial, but going to an auctioneering school doesn't guarantee any more success than skipping it and doing an apprenticeship.

"Anybody can go to school," Hockman said. "It doesn't mean you can be successful."

After completing the apprenticeship and school, a candidate must pass a verbal and written exam before receiving his or her licensee.

Hockman and Keel took and passed the test in April, receiving their auctioneer's licenses.

They are the only active female auctioneers in Berkeley, Jefferson, and Morgan counties in West Virginia, according to the West Virginia Department of Agriculture.

In an industry that has been dominated by men for centuries, Hockman says women in the auction industry are becoming more accepted.

Keel said that of the approximately 70 students in their class at Mendenhall, about a quarter of them were women.

Hockman believes people in West Virginia are ready for female auctioneers.

"We did our first benefit of Habitat for Humanity, and people were real excited to see a female auctioneer," she said.

Hockman and Keel are giving West Virginians what they want and are excited to do it.

"We're real excited to be in the spotlight and making the sales," Hockman said.

Hockman Auctions is at 5465 Winchester Ave. in Inwood.

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