By Matt de Simone
Virginia has a new State Champion Auctioneer—a local bid-caller.
Cody Manspile, owner and lead auctioneer of Circle-C Auction Company, was crowned the 2022 Virginia State Auctioneering Champion at Hotel Roanoke last month.
Auctioneers from across the state traveled to Roanoke to compete during the 64th Virginia Auctioneer Association Convention for the prize displaying their skills in “chanting” their repetition of numbers for prospective buyers.
Manspile is a self-taught auctioneer who lives in Lexington with deep roots in Buchanan. Harold “Bubby” Entsminger, a local Buchanan farmer and auctioneer, is who Manspile considers his primary influencer.
After graduating from Rockbridge County High School, Manspile attended the Worldwide College of Auctioneering in Mason City, Iowa, where he received his diploma in auctioneering.
Manspile is a fourth-generation farmer who split time between Lexington and Buchanan and now operates Crooked Bridge Farm in Lexington, raising beef cattle and sheep.
His journey to become an auctioneer started at a young age.
“I was probably 3 or 4 years old, and I remember going to an auction sale with my great-grandfather, who lived in Buchanan,” Manspile recalled in a recent interview. “Bubby stood on the back of a truck or a wagon, and he was auctioneering. He looked 10 feet tall standing on the back of that truck. I’ve always been fascinated with the auction process.”
Manspile sold his first item, a quilt, at a consignment auction in Lexington when he was 9 years old. After receiving praise for his skills at a young age, Manspile went on to help sell chickens at the 4-H/FFA livestock sale at the Rockbridge Regional Fair.
One could argue that the fascinating thing about auctioneers is the chanting– a fast, repetitive, and almost melodic cadence involving numbers and buyers. Some historians believe that American tobacco auctioneers first developed the style in the mid-1800s.
The practice became familiar during the Civil War when the military auctioned off seized property, although no evidence indicates “chanting” during those military auctions. However, auctioneers– fast-talking or not– adopted the title of “Colonel,” which is considered an American tradition.
Manspile started out pretending to sell cattle as a child. His neighbor had cows across the street that would journey to their catch pen in the evenings. Nine-year-old Manspile stepped off the school bus, watched the cows cross the road, and as Manspile shut the gate, he would “sell” them to the neighboring fence posts.
“It was just me, the cows, the catch lot, and a cornfield,” Manspile remembered. “I would sit there and sell those cows to the fence posts and do it for hours on end.”
He soon took to technology when his interest in auctioneering grew. He started watching videos on YouTube in middle school. From there, another auctioneer told Manspile to learn to “chant” telephone poles and fence posts while riding down the road.
Manspile explained that while counting the poles and posts, he developed his cadence and the “filler” most auctioneers place in their bid-calling. For example, Manspile tweaks a common phrase like “a dollar down here” to “a ‘dodder’ down here” so that it “rolls off” easier while he sells.
“You got to find your happy place (developing a cadence),” Manspile added. “No auctioneer is the same. Everybody has to find the cadence that works for them and then go from there.”
Before Manspile’s first auctioneering competition, Bubby Entsminger gifted Manspile with a brass belt buckle that reads: “The Auctioneer,” which was Bubby’s, who had previously retired. Bubby passed the torch to his friend. It’s the belt buckle Manspile wears to this day.
Manspile was named the 2017 Virginia State Rookie Auctioneering Champion and placed fifth in the state that same year. The Virginia Auctioneers Association has its convention annually in January. Manspile won Reserve Champion honors at the 2020 Championship in Leesburg. There wasn’t a convention held last year due to COVID restrictions.
To qualify for the championship, one has to be a member of the Auctioneers Association, a registered auctioneer, and a Virginia resident.
This year, Manspile drew the number five. He mentioned that he enjoys listening to the other auctioneers during competitions but noted that the stage belongs to the individual bid-callers.
Each auctioneer brings three items to “sell” to the competition. The items have a $25 value, and the auctioneers sell them back to the Auctioneers Association.
There are competitions held on a national level, but auctioneers don’t have to win their respective state titles to compete. This year, the National Auctioneers Association’s conference and competition will take place in San Diego, Calif.
Manspile is the owner and operator of the Circle C Auction Company, which was an idea he developed at a young age once he decided that he wanted to be an auctioneer. The name came from Manspile’s familiarity within the livestock world and seeing the word “circle” in many titles of ranches. He stated that the “C” stands for “Cody,” but “Circle C” is simply the name that stuck in his head.
The logo is a barbed wire circle around the letter “C.” The barbed wire represents the barbed wire fencing that Manspile stood behind as a young boy while “selling” the cattle to the fence posts. It is the early days that keep Manspile humble as a state champion.
“I never want to forget when I come from,” Manspile said. “No matter where I go, at one time, I was sitting on a gate selling cows to fence posts. I still have to work cattle, grease tractors, and do all those things as well as auctioneering.”
Not only is Manspile an auctioneer, but he also is a “ringman”– the person who “catches” bids for auctioneers that keeps the crowd energized. Essentially, he acts as an auctioneer’s “hype man.”
Manspile said 4-H influence at a young age taught him the values of hard work, honesty, and integrity that added to the fuel that drives him today.
“Now, to give back to an organization that’s given so much to me and given me the ability to make contacts over the year that I now conduct sales for because I met them through 4-H means a lot,” Manspile added.
Circle C, which launched in 2019, presents a lot of online auctions and their work at events. Through Circle C’s app, people can bid on their online auctions. For more information about the Circle C Auction Company and to learn more about their auctioning services, visit circlecauction.com.