SAN FRANCISCO – Forrest Mendenhall, veteran auctioneer, auto auction owner, and co-founder of the Mendenhall School of Auctioneering, has been honored by the National Auto Auction Association (NAAA) with of the 2009 Bernie Hart Memorial Auctioneer Award. Mendenhall received the award at a special presentation made during the Opening Luncheon at the NAAA Conference in Francisco on Sept. 30.

A yearly recognition of "the most visible person in the auction industry," the award is named for Bernie Hart of Lincoln, Nebraska who served the NAAA for more than three decades as its Executive Director before retiring in 1988.

Mendenhall’s love for the auction business took root when he was young boy. He grew up on a farm near High Point, North Carolina, and remembers being fascinated by auctioneers when he accompanied his father to livestock auctions. After attending college at High Point University and North Carolina State University, he went to auctioneers’ school in 1953, and began his career selling livestock in Eastern Northern Carolina. He soon applied his skills to the auto auction industry and worked auto auctions up and down the East Coast. In 1960, he moved back to High Point and, with his brother, founded the High Point Auto Auction which grew to be the largest in the Southeast. He sold the auction to Manheim in 1970, continuing to work as the general manager until 1975. In 1991 he built the Mendenhall Auto Auction, which is currently managed by his won Wayne.

In 1962, Mendenhall and his brother were having trouble finding auctioneers for their own sale, and the Mendenhall School of Auctioneering was born.

“At the time I was just planning to train auctioneers to work at our auto auction,” remembers Mendenhall. “We hadn’t been able to find any auctioneers, so I put together a training class with four initial students just so I could hire them to work selling cars. Then, word got out and we were deluged with requests from people who wanted to go to auction school.”

Demand mounted, and the school grew to it current four-session-per year schedule. Over 47 years, more than 7,000 aspiring auctioneers have been put through oral gymnastics at Mendenhall’s school, trained by Mendenhall to learn the unique combination of skills in showmanship, enunciation and mathematics required to make it in the auction business.

Mendenhall is a Life Member of the National Auctioneers Association, Auctioneers Association of North Carolina, National Auto Auction Association and Southern Auto Auction Association. He was inducted into the Auctioneers Association of North Carolina Hall of Fame in 1987. He was a Grand Champion of North Carolina Auctioneers in 1992 and 1993, and was inducted into the National Auctioneers Hall of Fame in 1995.

Bernie Hart Memorial Award

The Bernie Hart Memorial Auctioneer Award is named after long-time NAAA Executive Director Bernie Hart of Lincoln, Neb., who served the association for more than 30 years before retiring in 1988. The award recognizes an auctioneer's contributions to the auction industry, length of service, and reputation.

NAAA Auctioneer of the Year Award Winners:

    2009 Forrest Mendenhall

    2008 Bill Lanier

    2007 Shane Ratliff

    2006 Johnny Green

    2005 Jeff Stokes

    2004 Charles Nicholls

    2003 Ralph "Whitey" Shively

    2002 Chuck Roop

    2001 Gene Radcliff

    2000 Kenny Aycock