by Lisa Schauer
“You have a talent. You’re too good to let it go,” Maranda Younker, 33, told her husband Zachary Younker, 32, winner of the 2023 bid calling championship held by the West Virginia Auctioneers Association at Stonewall Resort in Roanoke, W.Va. on February 25.
“The auction business is not as big as it used to be,” said Zachary, who had considered hanging it up before his wife talked him out of it.
The Younkers, of Berkeley Springs, recently opened Mountaineer Machinery & Auctioneers on U.S. 522 South at 7380 Valley Road.
There, they take consignments, buy, and sell previously owned items ranging from tools, collections, and estates to farm and construction equipment, side-by- sides, trucks, campers and RVs.
He’s already worked as a firefighter, train conductor and National Guardsman, running auctions on the side with Maranda since 2021.
The couple met at her father’s salvage yard in Mineral County, and they share an interest in the auction business. Like a lot of folks, they enjoy the excitement and socialization that takes place while eating a hot dog, checking out the goods, bidding and listening to the speedy sing-song parlance of a professional auctioneer at the center of the action.
The Younkers started organizing live auctions for crowds of up to 500 people once or twice a month at different places like the Triple B Arena, private homes or the public auction house next to Dawson’s Ace hardware store, using a webcam and simulcasting for online bidders all over the country.
“We love auctions because we can help people get the most for their items using the auction method instead of settling for a price,” said Zachary.
Younker taught himself how to call for fun while riding the school bus with his friends in Morgan County. He says most people are born into the auction business, but he is first generation.
Younker later attended the Worldwide College of Auctioneering in Mason City, Iowa and obtained his auctioneer license when he was just 18 years old.
Maranda, his wife of two years, manages the business and is currently studying for her realtor’s license, which would allow her to sell real estate at auction.
“The online auction industry is growing tremendously because there is so much to sell, with the largest disbursement of assets ever turning over from the baby boomers to the millennials,” Zach explained.
“I don’t want the tradition of a live auctioneer with a live crowd to die off. I want to keep it alive for the rest of my career,” he said, asserting Morgan County could be a center for the auction industry, given the number of people who visit the area and those who buy and furnish second homes here.
In the future, the couple plans to open an even bigger auction complex, with a yard and auction house big enough to hold their dreams for growth.
Their next live auction will be held on Sunday, March 19 at 1 p.m. at the public auction house located at 141 Business