Heather B. Hayes
For Virginia Business
Someone trying to sell a horse typically takes out an advertisement, sends videos to prospective buyers and then
waits for them to show up at his door. Then, of course, there’s the whole issue of waiting for the check to clear.
Professional Auctions Inc., a Berryville-based auction house, offers an alternative for selling show and pleasure
horses. “Most horse owners find our approach to be a much better way to market their horse,” says Tim Jennings, who
owns the company with his brother, Mike. “At a recent auction, we were pretty well packed with 1,000 potential
buyers. What other option do you have for exposing your product to that many people?”
Auctions have long been a mainstay in the Thoroughbred world, but over the course of its 30-year-history,
Professional Auctions has helped make them a fashionable marketing tool for all other types of horses. The company
is one of the leading equine auctioneers in the country, selling nearly 3,000 quarter horses, paints, show ponies
and hunter/jumpers in 2007 for a total of $6.9 million. The highest seller was a quarter horse stallion, which
brought $103,000 at a sale in Raleigh.
Auctions offer sellers and buyers a number of benefits, Jennings says. The sale is contractual, transparent and
fully disclosed. In addition, both parties have financial protections that they don’t with private purchases or
Professional Auctions engages in a lot of hand-holding for its customers, made up largely of small breeders and
owners. “These are people who don’t have a lot of auction experience, clearly, so a lot of our procedures and
systems are designed to walk them through the process and make it as easy, non-stressful and successful as
possible,” Jennings says.
The company has succeeded by being willing to auction a variety of horse breeds in various geographic regions,
selling at events ranging from the American Quarter Horse Association’s World Championship Show Sale in Oklahoma
City to the Chincoteague Pony Penning Day Sale on Virginia’s Eastern Shore.
Jennings says that his company is in a good position to expand. A lot of competitors have gone out of business.
Professional Auctions just signed a contract to handle a major auction for the American Paint Horse Association and
has a number of other deals in the works. “Over the next 24 to 48 months, we’ll hopefully double the size of our
business, though how quickly that happens will depend on the economy.”
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