Selling the Best

The crowd grew hasty as C Jason Spence in his auctioneer voice chanted his rhythmic cry, “50 now 50 thousand dollars and 55 thousand dollars. 50 thousand dollars bid now 55 thousand.” People from across the nation swarmed the auction ring to bid on the most competitive livestock within the industry. “50 thousand dollars, who will bid it at 55 thousand dollars? 50 thousand dollars, 55, 55 now make it 55 and a 55 make it 55. Going once, going twice, sold that goat for 50 thousand dollars.”

Since the day Spence stepped foot in his local auction market at an early age, his lifelong passion for auctioneering turned itself into a successful career.

“That’s all I’ve ever wanted to be,” Spence said. “I’ve never wanted to go anything else.”

“I’ve never wanted to do anything else.”

Beginning of a Legacy

Raised in Tahoka, Texas, Spence’s fondest memories include his grandparents taking him to every livestock market, horse and equipment sale across West Texas and the United States.

“Back in the day, livestock and equipment were traded primarily by the auction method,” Spence said. “The auction method is the truest form of price discovery. If there was an auction, we went, and that’s what I just decided I wanted to do in life.”

In 1980, Spence sold his show animal at the San Antonio Livestock Show and Rodeo with Walter Britton auctioning the sale. That was when becoming an auctioneer became a long-term goal.

“When I really and truly knew I was going to be an auctioneer, I was 10 years old selling my hog at the San Antonio Livestock Show,” Spence said. “Britton was auctioning, and that’s when I knew I was going to be an auctioneer.”

As a freshman in high school, Spence went to work for Jack Aufill at the Lubbock Horse Auction.

“Jack gave me the start in my auctioneer career,” Spence said. “I worked for him from the time I was a freshman in high school until I finished college at Tech. So eight and half years, which is shorter than a prison sentence for some crimes.”

Spence graduated from Tahoka High School and continued his education at Texas Tech University. At Texas Tech, he was a member of the nationally recognized wool, horse and livestock judging teams. Spence was an officer for the rodeo club and the Masked Rider from 1992-1993.

“Tech was the only place I wanted to go,” Spence said. “There were no other choices. Being the Masked Rider was another long-term goal of mine. I even had more tackles than the football team.”

Doug Hawkins, a close friend, was able to see the ambition and determination Spence had toward being an auctioneer while they attended Texas Tech.

“It was obvious what he was going to do in life,” Hawkins said. “He worked hard at becoming the best and now sells some of the highest quality livestock in the business.”

After graduating from Texas Tech with an animal business degree, Spence went to Oklahoma State University and earned his master’s degree in international agriculture. While at OSU, Ralph Wade, a legendary cattle auctioneer, heard Spence’s talent at a local sale.

“Ralph heard me sell in Oklahoma one time, and he mentored me before I left for South Africa,” Spence said. “I will always be grateful to him for mentoring me. Anybody in the livestock auction business will tell you he is the best that has ever lived.”

In the spring of 1995, Spence went to work for Karoo-Ochse of South Africa, the largest livestock marketer on the continent. Because Spence learned Spanish on the family farm at an early age, he was able to catch on quickly with the dual language selling system. When Spence returned home from South Africa, he continued to let his rhythmic chat pursue his passion.

Pura Amino

When translated, pura amino means “the spirit that drives your passion.” Spence’s pura amino is his style of auctioneering.

Spence is a graduate from one of the nation’s oldest and largest auction academies, the Missouri Auction School. While attending auction school, he worked for Ritchie Bros. Auctioneers, the world’s largest auction company, selling construction and industrial equipment. In 2006, Spence left Ritchie Bros. to sell on his own. That is when Spence and Company was officially launched.

“I worked in El Paso for five years selling foreclosures at the courthouse and two auto auctions a week,” Spence said. “I was hired because I was bilingual. In 2016, I took the big step and left so I could concentrate more on the competitive livestock industry and other businesses.”

Spence has sold from the East Coast to the West Coast, including 35 different states along with two Canadian provinces, the Netherlands, Mexico, South Africa and Australia. He has been selling the San Antonio Livestock Show and Rodeo for 20 years and other sales including Rodeo Austin, Sandhills Stock Show and Rodeo, San Angelo Star of Texas Wether Dam Sale, San Angelo Star of Texas Gilt Sale, and for the first time in 2018, the Oklahoma Youth Expo. He also travels across Texas selling numerous county sales.

When Spence travels, he prefers to fly his own plane instead of drive. With the amount of sales Spence has accumulated, a plane is the most efficient way for him to get around.

Owen_Spence3
After a pre-flight check is cleared, Spence prepares to take off to another sale.

“I’ve had a love for aviation since I was 10,” Spence said. “I swore I was going to own a plane when we would have people come in to buy livestock. As a child, I thought, ‘That has to be cooler than having to drive.’”

Spence sarcastically said he now has to fly because he has had so many speeding tickets that he cannot keep a driver’s license. The plane he currently owns is a Cessna 210, which is bigger and allows him to haul more gear.

Giving Back

While auctioneering is Spence’s way of life, he can be easily recognized on the auction block by the special boots he wears. He has turned his special boots into a way of giving back.

“I have always had and been known for a really unique pair of handmade boots,” Spence said. “I’ve had them since I was a kid. My boys have 16 pairs between the two of them.”

Spence has 50 pairs of handmade boots made a year for his clients, himself and for fundraising events.

“What I do at select fundraising events I sell in is donate a pair of handmade boots,” Spence said. “In over four years, I have been able to raise over $100,000 for all sorts of charities. I want to continue doing this for years to come.”

Trademark of Success

Before every auction begins, Spence leads his crowd in a word of prayer.

“A trademark of all of my sales is that we start them with a prayer,” Spence said. “My focus is my spirituality. I give the Lord credit for using the talents he gave me and blessing me with a great family: my wife, Robin, sons, Sterling ‘Gage’ and Spencer Danger, along with my family of livestock people.”

Spence’s end goal with his auctioneer company is to build it into something his sons want to take over one day.

“Selling is a combination of three things: your confidence without arrogance, your ability to read the crowd, and the most important, your ability to create a sense of urgency to bid,” Spence said. “We want to be the livestock marketing edge for competitive livestock.”

Owen_Spence4
Spence has owned three planes in his flying career, but his current one allows him to haul more equipment to auctions.
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When Spence is not on the auction block, he can be found making client and business phone calls.

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