By Kaitlin Fleming
On Thursday, October 8, J.P. King Auction Company celebrated its 100th year in business at Events on Court in downtown Gadsden.
The celebration was a great success and many local influential people were in attendance including City of Gadsden Mayor Sherman Guyton, State Rep. Craig Ford, National Auctioneers Association CEO Hannes Combest, NAA Past President J.J. Dower, NAA Auxiliary President Traci Dower and Daniel Culps of AAA.
J.P. King Auction is a family-based company that began in 1915 selling real estate throughout the Southeast. The company has sold properties in all 50 states as well as six other countries. The company is a Gadsden-based luxury real estate auction company.
Executive Board Member Christie King unveiled the company’s timeline displaying the company’s progress from the beginning in 1915 until 2015.
Craig King, J.P. King Auction Company’s current CEO, delivered a speech about the growth of the company over the years.
“We appreciate your joining us as we celebrate our 100 year anniversary and our first 100 years of business,” said fourth generation President & CEO Craig King. “Many are here from the local area and others are from out of state, and to all of you we appreciate your joining us for this event.”
Family members in attendance were Executive Vice President Scott and Kim King, Christie King, J.P. King III, Cecile and Ken Striplin and Jake, Sadie and Shelby King.
Before the speeches began, a video presentation of the company history was provided for the viewing of the guests.
King acknowledged many fellow auctioneers from across the U.S. and former associates and employees that helped make J.P. King Auction Company what it is today.
“Hopefully our time together has also helped them toward their business success,” he said. “We also thank friends and others that are a part of our team [and] the vendors who provide support to our company and auctions. This is something we have looked forward to for many years, our 100-year milestone.”
During the presentation, Guyton presented the company with a key to the city as well as a proclamation acknowledging the King family’s success and positive impact on the city of Gadsden.
“When [Craig King] was introducing everyone I was afraid to raise my hand,” said Guyton. “I thought I might accidentally buy something. But truly it is an honor to be here.”
Along with Guyton, Ford presented a proclamation recognizing J.P. King Auction Company.
“Your company is successful because you’re all so well organized,” said Ford. “I appreciate everything y’all have done for Etowah County and all the jobs y’all have created in the county as well as the state Alabama.”
Ford also spoke well of Sadie King, a former employee of The Messenger.
“Also it is great to see Sadie King here today,” said Ford. “Sadie is a former employee of The Messenger, and I didn’t know she was back in town. Now that I know, I want to get you back over there.”
After the proclamations from Guyton and Ford, Craig King continued his informative speech. According to Craig King, J.P. King has worked in all 50 states and. Its property size is typically $1 million or more and its largest single property was a 44,000-acre ranch that sold for $28 million. The company has sold property to three people on the Forbes 400 list, including Donald Trump (who is currently No. 141) and two persons that were ranked in the top 30. The company also sold property for country music singer Barbara Mandrell, NBA star Karl Malone and Atlanta Braves pitcher Mike Hampton.
J.P. King Auction started in 1915 and began selling real estate throughout the Southeast by 1917. The company established offices when working on large auctions.
Leslie C. King took over in 1939 as the company’s second-generation president. He lived and worked in Gadsden and continued auctions throughout the Southeast and continued to sell subdivisions and farms and perform work for banks.
Craig King noted that J.P. King auction listing contracts from the 1940s were recently discovered. At that time, Leslie King used an “auction fee,” a flat amount paid by the buyer in addition to the bid price. Craig King said that this practice is now often referred as a Buyer’s Premium and primarily is a percentage of the bid price paid by the buyer in addition to the bid is commonly used in today’s auction industry.
J.P. King III took over as third-generation president from 1961 to 1985. Craig King noted that in 1966, a large owner with numerous properties in Mobile hired J.P. King to sell its properties. In order to facilitate that sale instead of following the then-practice of going property to property, J.P. King pulled all of the buyers into a local hotel ballroom and sold them all the properties from that location. This Ballroom Auction is another property auction practice often used in the industry today.
Craig, Scott and Christie King entered into company business in the late 1970’s and early 1980’s. During that time, Cecile and Ken Striplin were instrumental in developing a part of the company’s business of selling condominiums, starting along the Gulf Coast and eventually all over the U.S. Scott launched an effort in New England and the company conducted a lot of business in that region.
In 1990, the company began working for the Resolution Trust Corporation (RTC). When the banking crisis hit, J.P. King sold hundreds of millions of dollars worth of property for the RTC.
“A lot has changed even since the fourth generation has run the company,” said Craig King. “In the late 1980’s early 1990’s, we had big call centers taking calls for information on our auctions – condos and FLB auctions. We would get hundreds of calls per day. Now, all information is on the internet, where we provide buyers with great videos featuring our properties that are posted online.
“We also used to have offices in an area to be relevant. Now, our entire sales force work from computer laptops and hand-held devices and travel across the U.S.
“Marketing back then was all newspapers and direct mail. Now, we use Google ad words, social media and e-mail with online bidding. For example, on Tuesday we sold a property online in Tennessee and never had to leave the office.”
King said that J.P. King has conducted auctions of many of the most valuable properties at locations all across the country.
“For over 100 years, J. P. King has infused the traditional auction industry with its entrepreneurial spirit,” he said. “Now, we are leveraging the most innovative mobile platform making buying our clients’ premier properties easier than ever before. The days of having to hop in their jet and go to an auction are over, unless, of course, the buyer prefers to make an event out of it by attending the live auction in person.
“For example, we will be able to send an interested potential buyer a real-time instant notification through J.P. King’s dedicated app straight to his Apple Watch or phone during the workday that his preferred property is about to be auctioned, whether it’s that West Palm Beach estate or a Colorado ranch. The buyer may then bid in real time on his phone or tablet into our live auctions, saving him both time and money.
“A lot matters to our buyers, so we are now bringing our auctions to them. Real estate is local but buying it doesn’t have to be, not any longer. Obviously, too, this cutting-edge technology increases the number of bidders and bids, for our clients’ properties, which makes them and us happy, and more money.
“A lot has changed, and more changes are in store for businesses and J.P. King in the coming years as we look forward to our next 100 years.”