Monday July 3, 2006

Going once, going twice: Under the Hammer opens in Oswego

Jeff DeGrenier makes transition into auction business
By Lou Sorendo

    This is a father-son team that will be hard to beat in the business world.

    When you see local entrepreneur Jeff DeGrenier go to work, he usually is accompanied by a familiar face: his 7-year-old son Justin. A single dad, DeGrenier’s business partner has been in training since the tender age of eight weeks old.

    “Since he was a baby, he’s been involved in the business,” he said. “He’s one of the driving forces in my life. He makes me want to succeed,” he said.

    Jeff and Justin recently sold their Hollywood News convenience store on West Bridge Street in Oswego and are starting a whole new enterprise.

    Jeff DeGrenier owns and operates Under The Hammer Real Estate and Auction Company, Inc., 185 E. Seneca St., Suite 6, Oswego. The business is located at the Operation Oswego County-managed Business Expansion Center, which serves as an incubator for new businesses.

    DeGrenier said overhead costs are more affordable at the OOC, making it an ideal site for starting a business.

    DeGrenier is a licensed real estate broker and professional auctioneer. His new business will involve providing live auctioneer services on site. He will focus on estate sales, real estate auctions and business liquidations, and also expects to deal in antiques, vehicles, RVs, boats, farm and construction equipment, collectibles and consignments.

    DeGrenier is required to be a licensed real estate broker and adheres to New York State Real Property Law in order to sell real estate through auctions. “There are real estate bargains in Oswego County that you won’t find in other parts of the country,” he said.

    DeGrenier is no stranger to being an entrepreneur. He has owned and operated two businesses in the Port City over the past 15 years. He owned and operated Rocco’s restaurant at the forks of the road in Oswego for six years. He then ran Hollywood News convenience store for nine years in downtown Oswego.

    “I’ve always been involved in the sale of goods and have always loved auctions,” DeGrenier said. “I’ve always been fascinated by the idea of a quick sale.”

    DeGrenier has been an associate broker with Chetney Real Estate in Oswego for over two years. “Robert Chetney (owner) is a great source of knowledge,” DeGrenier said.

    DeGrenier anticipates hiring an office manager in the future as well as employing up to four part-time clerks and handlers. “My primary objective is to provide customers with the most effective and profitable auction experience as possible with a professionally managed business,” he said.

    “My company will work diligently to make an auction a successful and rewarding experience,” he added. DeGrenier is a recent graduate of the American Academy of Auctioneers, gaining knowledge in areas such as the art of bid calling.

    Bid calling, or the “auction chant,” is a skill mastered by auctioneers, and DeGrenier said it is indeed an art. The rapid cadence an auctioneer uses is designed to keep those participating in the auction on the edge of their seats.

    “One you have the crowd there, the auctioneer needs to be an entertainer as well,” he said. He said the whole purpose of the chant is to keep things moving. “You don’t want people to get bored or leave. That’s why it’s important to keep things moving fast,” DeGrenier added.

    DeGrenier said one of the most challenging aspects of running an auction is to do it with integrity. Oftentimes, he said, the products at an auction represent assets accrued by someone over an entire lifetime. “They can be delicate and sometimes uncomfortable situations,” he said. “For instance, at liquidations, people are losing everything.”

    DeGrenier said it’s also vital to be able to successfully market an auction in order to attract as many people as possible. “The goal of the auctioneer is to command the best possible price in order to maximize profits for the seller,” he said.

    “The auction industry has become computerized,” he said, noting the auction clerking system which once featured manual paper entries has become computerized. “The auction industry has quadrupled in the last 10 years,” DeGrenier said. “The main reason is that people need to liquidate assets as quickly and efficiently as possible.”

    “The cost of holding onto property for long periods of time is not feasible,” he noted.

    One only has to look at the remarkable success of Christie’s Art Auction House in New York City to realize how effective the auction method is. “Art by auction has outpaced the stock market for returns,” he said.

    DeGrenier is a graduate of the Micro Enterprise Training Program, and learned how to construct a workable business plan. The training program is designed for budding entrepreneurs. The training program “makes you think about all the things that can potentially go wrong” while running a business, he said. Also, it helps in determining what one’s fixed monthly expenses will be.

    In order to be a successful entrepreneur, DeGrenier said faith in oneself is a necessity. “You have to will yourself to succeed, work hard and be persistent,” he said.

    DeGrenier is originally from North Adams, Mass. He was initially attracted to the Oswego area because of its ample fishing opportunities.

    DeGrenier is a member of the New York State Auctioneers Association, the National Auctioneers Association, the Oswego County Board of Realtors and the National Realtors Association.

    He holds a bachelor’s degree from the Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts. He will be available seven days a week to conduct auctions.

    For more information, call 342-4000 on check out the Web site

Oswego County Business Magazine
Issue 161

Issue 161
April/May 2019

Cover Story


Kristin Bullard

On The Job

What Do You Do to Retain Your Best Employees?

Success Stories

Lindsey Aggregates

My Turn

Newspaper: An Industry in Crisis


News Briefs on Local Businesses & Business People

Economic Trends

Programs that Facilitate Region’s Business Development and Growth

Last Page

Kateri Spinella