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'Shorty' does auctions in his spare time

Sheldon 'Shorty' Ehman of North Hudson has been an auctioneer for 32 years.

Longtime North Hudson resident Sheldon "Shorty" Ehman has an interesting hobby -- much of his spare time is spent being an auctioneer!

"When I was a youngster I was always interested in auctions and race cars," Ehman said.

His life started on a more traditional path, however. He graduated from Ellsworth High School in 1961 and went right into the Air Force. After the service, he was hired by 3M in May 1965 and spent his next 37 years working in a 3M factory in Cottage Grove.

"I made tape, sandpaper and drove a forklift," Ehman said.

He married his wife Marge in the fall of 1971 and purchased a house in North Hudson in April 1972. He still lives in the same house.

Through it all, however, he kept his interest in auctions and helped other area auctioneers, including Lloyd Rieck from Woodville and Wenzel "Bunny" Humpal from Boyceville.

"I just enjoyed being around auctions," Ehman said. "I finally got serious enough to attend auctioneering school."

On Dec. 13, 1979, Ehman took a two-week crash course at an auctioneering school in Mason City Iowa owned by auctioneer Col. Gordon Taylor.

"We stayed in dorms and were served food right at the school," Ehman said. "There were about 50 of us in the session. People came from all over the United States and Canada. We learned the auctioneer chant, bookkeeping and set up -- all aspects of conducting an auction."

His first auction came in February 1980.

"My first auction was the Osceola bowling alley and banquet center," Ehman said. As they say, the rest is history.

Now retired from 3M (retired Jan. 1, 2000), Ehman still does auctions, usually between 10 and 20 per year. But, he has never done it for a living -- it's always been a passionate pastime. As he said, "I'm a people person."

He also does a number of charity auctions at no charge. Among those coming up this year are the St. Croix Valley Deer Classic at Ready Randy's in New Richmond next fall and the 3M Ducks Unlimited auction.

Ehman is committed to doing only live auctions.

"I won't do Internet auctions -- live auctions only," Ehman said.

Ehman makes money one of two ways when conducting an auction. For small auctions he charges a flat fee; for larger auctions he charges a percentage.

"Most auctions typically run four to six hours," Ehman said. "If it's too big, I spread it over two days."

He said he can do most any auction, but typically finds his niche in estate auctions and moving sales. He has also done his share of farm auctions and antique auctions.

The best time for an auction? Ehman said Sunday afternoon is probably the best, but Thursday night is also good. Saturdays are also better than they were in years past. He said Wednesday and Friday nights are generally not good nights.

"Of course, I have all the equipment -- trailers, tables and equipment to make an auction successful," Ehman said. He uses an array of advertising mediums to get the word out.

"I use newspapers, magazines, the Internet, specialty publications, flyers, personal contacts -- whatever it takes," Ehman said. "Some auctions require that you reach an audience of people who might be interested in specialty items."

There is a long list of items that usually bring a good price at an auction. Among those he mentioned were tools, antiques, guns (he only does long guns, no pistols), cattle, vehicles and much more. Among the items that often bring low prices includes furniture.

Ehman suffered through some health issues last summer and it cut into the number of auctions he was able to schedule.

"I'm back to full strength this year," Ehman said.

About his other high school dream, Ehman is still a big race fan. He goes to dirt track races at Cedar Lake speedway regularly and has been to several Nascar events over the years. His other interests include many years of bowling, traveling and attending Hudson High School athletic events -- especially football and basketball. He is also a die-hard Packer and Brewer fan.

He and his wife Marge have three adult children: Dom, Monica and Molly.

Anyone interested in a live auction may contact Ehman at (715) 386-9423.