THE BEGINNING OF LRCA
When the original Superior was for sale, I badly wanted to buy it. It had a great manager (the late Steve Deeds) and had been around a long time. I just knew way back when (20+ years ago, that auctions were the future in selling coins). My partner Bruce put his foot down and said no. So no it was.
Then I got the itch really bad a few years later. I figured to try a different route. I knew Dan Morphy from my friend John Snyder and his boss at Diamond comics, Steve Geppi. So I figured why not partner, he is outside of coins and has a huge customer base. Sadly Dan, did not understand coins at all and he clashed with my style. That association was brief.
A couple of years later, I contacted him again and tried for a second time. We had small success until a very flawed computer program he offered us failed. We turned to an outside source and ended up losing $600,000.00. Hard to believe, but I am can the ultimate in stubborn. Many people had said to me I could do it alone. I was a bit scared. But I realized if I did I have one the greatest customer bases ever and they would support me. And they did and still do!
Forgot to mention I begged Charles Anderson (the full owner of Stacks a few years ago) to let me buy 25% of Stacks and run it. I had many polite rejections (and we all know I can’t take rejection). I tried so many times to get in that deal. I f feel I really could have made Stacks something (do not get me wrong, they are a powerhouse today).
OFF TO THE RACES
Even a small start up required a ton of money, even more work, and a lot of great people. After losing $600,000.00 money was tight. At that point I was fighting up hill with Bruce who did not want me to do it. My vision was undeterred.
I started reaching out to all of my best customers. Surprise! They all gave me some pretty cool stuff that was duplicates. I was smug and thought every one knew Legend so it would be easy to start the auction co. HELL NO!
It took me 3 years to gain ANY name recognition. Even then we still had customers walking past our table and tell us they were going to major firm to put there coins in auction (none ever made it to their destinations). Then I started to get Mr Simpsons duplicates (he was watching to make sure we really could get top dollar before he gave us any coins) and we never looked back. Those coins certainly got peoples attention.
At the time I knew what I wanted and needed. I hired a manager, a art director (I wanted hard bound catalogs), and a top tier cataloger. I hired the two auction coordinators I always wanted. Two years ago I hired a Exec VP/finance guy and a manager of the entire auction process. You would be amazed the amount of work that hits us even when we are way out from an auction.
My goal is and still is to be a 500 lot boutique auction house. Being a major player in auctions for the last 25+ years, I knew what and how I wanted an auction company to be. I do NOT want Legend to be big, I know I can not sit thru 700 lot sessions until 1 AM (I would have too sit because that is when patterns usually go off).
Knowing the intense work that goes in a bigger sale, I will never knock the big guys. Its amazing they can get it all done.
500 LOTS IS HOW MUCH WORK?
You would be amazed as to how much work we have. Before any deadline of any thing we get swamped t the point we probably need 3 more people. I know I can not physically do an 12 hour day for the auction then a 8 hour day for Legend anymore. But I did it since the auction company started. It probably is what is taking my health down.
Seeking consignors still is not easy. You would be amazed at what they want. There are a few dealers that we now do NOT accept consignments from. They could give us as much as a million per sale, but they are just not worth it. We can never get their reserves timely (a big problem w/most dealers), they make too many demands, they bug us the day after a sale to be paid, the list just goes on.
When “crunch time” hits (the deadline for consignments to be in we are swamped to the nth degree. I have to sort through every coin we take, approve, then look at the numbers, decide what goes on the front page of the catalog, etc. I really do reject coins. I try my hardest NOT to be an enabler to any known coin docs. My true hardest job is cataloging-not that I have a problem doing it, its the time it takes, Those 4-7 days I can work a full 20 hours just for the auction company cataloging. The last few auctions I have left seriously battered. I feel an obligation though to at least catalog Legend customer coins.
You should see how much physical work and time goes into making, editing, proof reading the web site and the catalog! EVERYONE has to pitch in. Since cataloging is the soul of the auction-not just getting the special coins, we have to have everything as prefect as possible.
I am back directing all the marketing now. That takes many hours per week. Keep in mind, an auction company is a selling establishment. Marketing is selling. No one knows selling to coin collectors as well as I do. My staff is not ready yet to take over the marketing. I am backing off cataloging (although I am doing 100% of our elite October Sale).
OMG that is pure hell time. I usually arrive the Tuesday afternoon before a sale. I can’t stand it when I get off the plane I have a massive amount of texts and emails-even calls (that is what I HATE the most). It usually takes me the full day to answer everyone before I conk out.
The day before the sale is just as hectic. I have to speak to many people about many different things about the sale. Yes, Matt is there to help me, but he is as swamped as I am. I feel a little better if lot viewing is swamped.
Sale day. I am usually am a big bunch of nerves. I believe we are only as good as our last sale. So every sale has to produce. I usually get totally freaked out by noon if the numbers seem weak. This sale last week, I was in a total zombie state until the sale started. And I had to deal with a zillion questions about the sale. Even my best customers need or want updates for both buying and selling that day as it is closest to the sale itself.
When the sale starts, Matt texts me how many people are on line. I calm down a little. As I see the bidding going well, I am still not totally calm. This sale I was super freaked by the what the 2 Dimes brought-I just could not believe it. The bidding was real and was super clean. It also seemed in slow motion too. My heart was still racing and my head was spinning for maybe 20 more lots after. I was in as much shock as any one. I had one more important phone bidder to work with. I did his call and wobbled out sick as a dog. I was beyond burnt and my nerve disease was fully lit. I get stressed more then any one right before, during , and after my sales. I get the good credit when something works and the bad blame when something does not go right.
Since I was up in my room I missed much of the sale after the Halves. Matt was texting me key numbers (like how many on line bidders) etc. I was super greatful we had no technical problems. I could not keep track of how fast our auctioneer was going, but I had no complaints. Some times he can close a lot too soon and I have to slow him down via hand signal.
When the sale ended I was flooded with emails and texts. The news of what the 2 Merc Dimes brought spread like wild fire. I only responded to George. Even he was blown away. My plane was at 6 am. My body had no clue what time zone it was supposed to be in. I tried to stay awake on the flight but could not. Of course when I was, dead internet (thank you United). So all I could do was answer yesterdays emails. Typically on a Friday night after a sale, I’ll look at all the preliminary numbers, answer more emails, and work on editing all press releases and web additions. That usually lasts until 11 PM. This time, I was out after I said hey to my birds at 6:15 PM. The apartment could have blown up and I’d have slept through it.
Finally, today, I got to work at 7 AM. Had to do some Legend stuff. We had many unexpected sales today. So that took out a lot of time away to work on auction things. I could only start at 2 PM. By 4 I had to crawl out. Matt was up in the air working too-but his flight was delayed. I do not want to see him lit up and over stressed like me. I see his working s hard every day. But he does have to stay on top of the offers made on the no sales. Some times people are ridiculous, and others just want a 5% discount. We do make many after sales. We also hear about any problems from bidders and or buyers. I had to heard direct from one important buyer he had trouble logging in. He missed bidding on a $25,000.00 coin. UGH!!!! It never ends.
For some reason I felt I wanted to write this brief insight to me and Legend Auctions. I had thought his business would have been much easier once we had a great brand established and proved we could get record prices. NOPE! The work load to maintain every thing probably has doubled at the very least, While a sale it self is some what glamorous, I assure you, the work load is not!
Myself and the entire Legend Auctions staff thanks every one who supports us buying and selling. We would not be around with out you!
Any questions or comments, email me: firstname.lastname@example.org.
P.S. sorry for the typos, etc, I was totally burnt out (and still am) when this was written