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Henslin inducted in Minnesota Auctioneering Hall of Fame

By Carol Stender

Date Modified: 03/28/2013 9:01 PM

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BIRD ISLAND — Auctioneer LaDon Henslin was surprised when he was named to the Minnesota State Auctioneers Association Hall of Fame.

Henslin, who's been an auctioneer for 35 years, doesn't consider it his award.

"We've had a lot of help along the way," he said at his Bird Island office. He credits his family, staff, friends and customers for helping him develop his own auction company, Henslin Auctions Inc.

A youthful Henslin often attended auctions with his grandfather and was intrigued by the fair-like atmosphere. It was great fun for the youngster who, with his siblings, spent summers with their grandparents while their mother took college classes.

His father, John, a Massey Harris-New Holland dealer in Clara City, died when Henslin was six. His mother, Doris, moved her four children when she taught at several schools in Iowa, South Dakota and Minnesota. The family eventually settled in Bird Island.

"Mom always felt sorry for us kids because we moved around, but it was the best thing for us because we always made friends," he said. "It helped me with my ability to talk to people."

After Henslin graduated from high school, he attended radio broadcast school in Wisconsin and Southwest State University in Marshall. He worked construction before starting the auction company with his wife, Annette, in the late 1970s.

Henslin originally wanted to be a machinery dealer like his father or to be a full-time farmer. He found auctioneering offered a bit of both. He eventually purchased his grandparent's farm near Odessa with his brother, Jon.

He's graduated from three auction schools — two in Iowa and the Continental Auctioneers School in Mankato, where he and his son, Allen, now teach. Students learn the auctioneer's chant and how to handle advertising and promotions.

Henslin helped other auctioneers, and they helped him. He established an auction in the Renville County fairground's sheep barn where he sold smaller items. His auctions grew to include machinery and eventually estates and land.

Henslin also holds benefit auctions. The auctions are free for churches, organizations or family benefits.

Henslin is past president of the Minnesota State Auctioneers Association and is a life member of the National Auctioneers Association.

They are on top of technology, offering live-online auction services. The company also has a website.

Each auction has its own personality, he said. Sometimes an estate auction can be a celebration of the farm or a person's life. It can be a transition for a family.

Preparing takes time from cataloging the items to cleaning up equipment.

"There's more that goes on than people realize," he said. "It's like a wedding or a graduation," he said. "You put out the invitations, offer a lunch and conduct the auction. We do what we can for our customers to have a good auction."

His staff includes Annette, son Allen, Frank Roering, Brad Dallmann, Dawn Barber, Barry Westhoff, Kelly O'Neil, Mark Molennar, Marvin "Sweet Potato" Thielke, Faye Kidrowski and John Henslin.

The couple also have a daughter, Beki, and four grandchildren.