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Chris Pracht

Discovering his calling

Pracht inducted into National Auctioneers Association Hall of Fame

Auctioneering gave Chris Pracht ’75 a second chance.

The first decade after graduation from Wofford saw highs: becoming the youngest elected representative to the South Carolina House of Representatives at the age of 21, a career in real estate and the birth of a son, as well as lows: political defeat, family loss and life challenges. By the mid-1980s, the idealism that led Pracht into public service was replaced by “disillusionment, disappointment and despair.”

“I was at Indiana University beginning the Certified Auctioneers Institute (the only three-year certification program for auctioneers in the United States), and I walked down to Burger King housed in the Memorial Union Building to grab a sandwich,” says Pracht. Bob Glass, a well-respected auctioneer and leader in the field of charity auctions, sat down with him and asked how the course was going. “I said something like, ‘We’re just a bunch of money changers.’ ‘Young man,’ he stopped me, ‘You need a better attitude. You need to come to the children’s camp.’ At that moment, I could hear our Wofford’s Frank Logan and Charlie Gray ’72 saying ‘You go, boy!’”

Back home in Anderson, S.C., Pracht received a call and an application to help at Paul Newman’s Hole in the Wall Gang Camp. Pracht spent the next 12 years changing his attitude and his life thanks in part to time spent volunteering each summer with seriously ill children at the camp. “Even when you’re giving all you’ve got, the children give you so much more than you can ever give them.”

Pracht completed the CAI Institute, renewed his interest in state and national professional organizations and started teaching courses in the CAI and NAA auctioneer certification programs. He went on to serve as treasurer of the National Auctioneers Association and was elected the first chairman of the newly formed NAA Education Institute Trustees. He served as president of the South Carolina Auctioneers Association and was inducted into the South Carolina Auctioneers Hall of Fame in 2007. In 2014 he was named the Grand Champion Bid Calling Auctioneer, and in July 2017 Pracht was surprised during the 4,000-member NAA annual meeting in Columbus, Ohio, with induction into the National Auctioneers Hall of Fame.

“I really enjoy the auction business, not just to make a living, but because I see how I can help people,” says Pracht. “I realized a long time ago that one of our most valuable assets is time. Things hold us down. In a sense, whatever we own owns us. Auctioneers give people back their time and new beginnings.”

Pracht, also a certified estate specialist, says auctioneers help people solve problems. “I’ve seen families divided come back together because of the way we’ve handled an estate. Seeing these families heal is a wonderful gift.” 

In 2007 when the market crashed, Pracht and several of his former CAI classmates at IU formed a national franchise of auctioneers that allowed small, privately owned firms to keep their names and their businesses, while benefiting from a national network and online bidder platform. The new business model, now in its 10th year, has been a success, and Pracht remains director and secretary of International Auction Marketing Inc., DBA MarkNet Alliance. The franchise includes 60 member companies in 35 states with a partner in South Africa. Pracht’s son, Christopher, serves as general counsel for the franchise. Pracht also owns Chris Pracht Auctioneers, Realty and Auction LLC with his main office in Anderson and contact offices in Camden and Charleston, S.C. While in Camden he also works American Brittanys in the field. 

According to Pracht, the auctioneer is the person responsible for all facets of the marketing, auction and transactions — from the bid calling and the contract signing to the collections and distribution of the funds. The process, however, is as much about building relationships with people as about planning, organization and sales. “The real estate auction business has been good to me,” says Pracht. “I’ve been able to make a good honest living, and I’ve met a lot of wonderful people along the way.”

For Pracht, his connection to Wofford has been a constant, and because of his love of the college and appreciation of faculty and peer support within the Wofford community, he has included Wofford in his will.

by Jo Ann Mitchell Brasington ’89