Auction History

Since 1975 the spring-­time in Washington MO has meant Rotary Radio Auction Time!

The annual Rotary Radio Auction gives our membership the opportunity for fellowship and camaraderie while serving in a specific volunteer role. All members are expected to solicit designated businesses for auction items and to volunteer for one or more roles during the event.

Our Auction generates monies to support the good and necessary works of numerous club sponsored projects.

A Bright Idea

Warren Swoboda is credited with hatching the idea for a radio auction back in 1975, along with chairing the first event. This would have been a fairly high tech endeavor for the times. Don Northington, Sam Farrell, Ben Geisert, Bob Kidd, Gil Holtmeyer, and Wayne Berry reportedly collaborated with Warren on the pilot endeavor. Club membership got behind the radio auction, and managed to pull it off. Revenues for that first year are said to have been around $2,000. The rest, as they say, is Rotary Club History and Lore.

It Caught On

The Rotary Radio Auction was deemed to be a viable fundraising project and has been a major annual club fundraiser since 1975. Business donor commitments and newspaper and radio coverage help to inform and engage the community at large.

And Took Off

The annual auction profits have grown throughout the years from a few thousand dollars to as high as $31,000, as Auction Committee Leadership and Committee Members set the bar higher each year.

And Got Better and Better

Auction processes and systems are integral to perpetuating this endeavor. Auction leaders treat this endeavor as they would a successful business venture in that they rigorously identify lessons learned and make continuous improvements to the auction processes and systems year after year. For example, Bill Schuck co-chaired the event from 1991-1993 and during those years introduced the high tech egg timer, the bell ringer concept, expanded the donor list and created a wholesale list of items for donors to purchase if they do not have a marketable product to offer.

Announcing where the proceeds would go was also introduced in that era and used in auction PR. For example, in 1992 proceeds were ear marked for the Welcome to Washington sign on the east end of town. Bill reports that Rotary entered an agreement with the City of Washington to pay this $9,600 project off over a 3 year period, but the 1992 proceeds generated $11,800 giving our club the ability to pay it off in one year, plus add 3 flag poles.

Technology has enabled streamlining of paper processes and systems over the years. Masterminds of these systems and enhancements include: Tom Wasser, Stefan Adams, Jason Oesterly and Rodney Stoyer.

Donna Park and Donna Klott contribute their expertise to this endeavor by handling the administration of the data base and other aspects of the auction system. Sharon Monzyk has handled the post-auction process over the years, which has also been streamlined.

We Get Around

Radio Auctions have been held at various locations throughout town including:

  • Modern Auto
  • Auffenburg Ford
  • Parker Hannifan
  • Borgia
  • Frick’s Quality Meats

And, Did We Say… It’s So Much Fun…

Tim Unnerstall:

“I remember working one auction when it was held at the Ford Dealership on Highway 100. Before anything was automated, members recorded bids on little slips of papers that runners collected, sorted and put in front of the announcers. On one particular blustery day, someone opened the outside door to the showroom and bid slips went flying. That might have been when Leonard Marquart invented the paperweight.”