Editor’s Note: This is part one of a two-part series about a Xenia company that has been in business for 100 years. Look for part 2 in Tuesday’s Gazette
XENIA — It’s not often a business can brag about celebrating 100 years of serving the public. But, it’s even more rare when a business can celebrate 100 years of operation — and just one family.
That’s Koogler Auctions.
It was March 6, 1914 when Earl Koogler, known by all as “The Colonel,” opened his business as an auctioneer. From there, it’s passed on to his son, Everett, and now to Everett’s son, Garry.
“The earliest sale I could find going through old newspapers and the like is Grandpa holding a sale on March 6, 1914,” Garry Koogler said. “It was for, of all things, a ‘Koogler’ on North Fairfield Road.”
Everett, now a spry 96, started work with his father in 1950.
“The first sale I went out on with dad was a sale up in Fairborn,” Everett said. “(There were) Household goods and a few farm implements. Come my turn (to auctioneer), my dad said ‘go ahead.’ I chickened out on him. I didn’t sell a thing. Coming home, Dad said ‘If you want to be an auctioneer, you have to do better than you do today’. From then on, I started selling.”
Everett is still licensed and actually helped work a sale last year at the age of 96.
“I expect I’m the oldest auctioneer in the business,” he said.
When he started, auctioneers didn’t need a license.
“You didn’t have to have a license until 1950,” Everett said. “That’s when I started. I had just found out I had to go to the county and give $10 at the county courthouse.”
As the years went on, the licensing moved to the state level. The license is now for two years at a cost of $100 a year.
“I’m not going to renew (the license),” Everett said. “I can think of other things to use that $200 for.”
Garry Koogler and fellow auctioneer Dave Beam said, however, they may need him from time to time in the future.
Everett said he remembers how his father used to be very busy.
“When I was a kid at home, it seemed like my dad had a sale almost every day - farm sales, this was all farmland,” he said. “Farm sales… don’t have farm sales much anymore.
“During the Depression, he’d come home and have a farm sale for people who couldn’t pay their bills. He’d say ‘man, that man didn’t want to sell out today.’ I think there were days he’d make only $5 or $10. Big milk cows would bring $25-30 or less.
“That Depression was rough. I was in high school. I never went hungry and I always had clothes to wear. Just never had any money.”
Everett said he’s always worked with a partner.
“I’ve always been with someone,” he said. “I started with Dad in 1950. I worked with dad until 1969 when Dad passed away. The last sale we had together (was) on Shakertown Road. That was in July of 1969.”
He added that his father also liked to work with partners. His father’s brother, Albert, worked with Earl back in the 1920s, but was killed at the age of 21 when he was struck by lightning.
Garry said he’s still getting his dad to work.
“We had a sale at the fairgrounds about a year ago,” Garry said. “I kept bugging him and bugging him to get up and sale. He kept saying ‘I’m not going to do that.’ But he eventually got up and sold 10 or 15 minutes.”
It was 1983 when Garry joined his father in the business.
“Now you have to go to auctioneer school and do an apprenticeship for 12 sales,” he said. “I didn’t have to go to school in 1983.
“The first sale I went on, Dad was working with Warren Kelly out of Xenia,” he continued. “They had a huge antique sale in Dayton on Webster Street. Everything was on blacktop. On August 16. I wasn’t licensed. I was thinking about getting licensed but I didn’t tell Dad. I talked to Warren Kelly about it and he said they would help anyway they can.
“But that day, Dad got sick and passed out. When we LEFT there at 6 p.m. it was 96 degrees. but that wasn’t on the blacktop. I mean, it was hot. So Warren Kelly started getting sick. And I was clerking. He looked at me and said ‘How do you feel?’ I said well, I’m hot but I’m okay otherwise. He said ‘I’m going to sell two more items and you’re going to sell.’
“I sold two or three hours,” Garry said. “Some of the best antiques Dad ever had to sell and I got to sell them.”
Now, the Koogler team said, schools are everywhere.
Beam said he went to Warren County Career Center.
“It’s a state requirement, and in that requirement, you have to have so many hours in bid calling,” Beam said. “It’s like an 80-hour course and in that, you have to have like 20 hours of bid calling and training.
“There are regulations, you can’t just be an auctioneer anymore.”
“And, like we were saying, you also have to work 12 sales in your apprenticeship,” Garry Koogler said. “Then you have to go back to the state and take a written exam and an oral exam.”
With three generations already known as auctioneers, Garry said there is a chance that the fourth generation may be joining soon.
“My son Justin in Idaho is thinking about getting involved with an auctioneer out there,” he said. “Out there, you don’t have to have a state license. You just have to go to the county seat and get a one-time permit each time you have a sale.”
Beam added that in Ohio, you don’t need a license if you sell your own items.
“It’s sort of like putting in an ad for a garage sale,” he said. “You can auction off your on stuff.”
Garry Koogler had to choose from several when asked what his strangest auction item has been.
“I worked with another auctioneer at a benefit auction called Rent-a-Gent auction,” he said. “The guys would have a date package. They’d walk them out on stage and we sold the date packages with the guys.
“Some of the people got married from those things. In fact, the auctioneer I was helping, and his wife, well they got married.
That was kind of a strange auction, but they have those quite often.”
But it gets stranger.
“I was helping another auctioneer in Beavercreek,” Garry said. “Everything was selling ‘through the roof.’ It was just an outstanding sale.
“I was in the backyard and there was a post in the yard that had rocks piled around it. Someone teasingly said ‘Garry, why don’t you sell those rocks,’ because of the way things were selling so well. I said ‘Okay, I’m going to sell a choice of rocks’.
“I sold one rock for $75.”
He added that there was another sale where a family was moving and couldn’t take their dog. They tried, but couldn’t find anyone to take it.
“We auctioned the dog and it got a good home,” Garry said.
William Duffield can be reached at 937-372-4444 ext. 133 or on Twitter @WilliamDuffield