Growing up on a farm in Buhl, Idaho, Lyle Masters was taken with the art of auctioneering from an early age. He’d tag along with his father to livestock and farm sales and return home to “jibber-jabber” off the top of a box.
He always liked the bid calling and finding out what something was worth, and he taught himself the calling part by listening to auctioneers, he said.
“I always wanted to be an auctioneer, the glory of standing up there doing it,” he said.
With no interest in college, he set out for the Reppert School of Auctioneering in Decatur, Ind., after graduating from Buhl High School in 1954.
“I already knew the chant, but there’s a lot more to it,” he said.
A stint in the U.S. Navy delayed his plans, but he hung out his auctioneer’s shingle when he returned to Buhl in 1959.
He worked with a couple of other auctioneers from nearby towns for about five years until going it alone at the encouragement of his good friend and his partners’ longtime clerk, Cal Harper.
Harper worked as Masters’ auction clerk for another 25 years until heart problems got the better of him. During Harper’s final time as clerk, Masters’ brought in friend LaMar Loveland to help out with the heavy lifting and outside work but kept Harper involved settling the sales. Loveland’s been part of the team since 1988 or ’89.
After selling alone for about eight years, Masters partnered with Gary Osborne of Gooding.
“He’s more like a brother than a partner,” Masters said.
The two broadened their services, covering more ground with farm, household, antique, collectibles, and estate sales. Masters Auction Service conducts more auction sales in Southern Idaho than any other auction service, averaging about 120 individual sales a year.
In addition, Masters has led livestock auctions for more than 30 years, doing two a week first at Ranchers’ Auction in Twin Falls for about six years and continuing at Producers’ Livestock in Jerome.
Masters has seen a lot of changes in the auction business over the last 20 years. Many have gone to online auctions and bidders using numbers instead of names. But people like the hands-on experience of seeing and touching what they’re bidding on and being referred to by name, he said.
Masters Auction holds a lot of sales and draws big crowds, and between those auctions and the livestock auctions, Masters keeps busy.
“There’s not too many days I’m not doing something in the auction business,” he said.
There are dates to set, goods to inspect and list, sale bills to be made, advertising to place, and the internet to update. And then of course there’s the auction, which might include several different sales, and the post-sales work.
Masters views his business as a service to people who face the difficult job of liquidating, whether it’s a forced sale or due to monetary need, the death of a family member or a living estate to take care of someone who needs to be in a care facility. He treats each circumstance with integrity, respecting the privacy of those needing his service — and not always with a dry eye.
“It’s been an interesting life. I’ve met some really nice people. I’ve made a lot of friends,” he said.
Masters has a great work ethic when it comes to running his auctions and works hard to make them a success, said friend Leonard Crismor.
Masters is equally respected for his community service, with a wall full of awards, plaques of appreciation and honorary lifetime memberships.
He has a huge amount of integrity and cares about people so much. He’s always willing to donate time and money, Crismor said.
Masters has been involved in and held leadership rolls in many organizations, including Rotary, Masons, Shriners, the local chamber of commerce and other local service organization and fundraising efforts. He is past president of the Idaho Association of Professional Auctioneers and an inductee in the Southern Idaho Livestock Hall of Fame.
He has also donated his time for FFA and 4-H stock sales at county fairs for the past 55 years and has served as the master of ceremonies for the Southern Idaho Livestock Hall of Fame for the past 19 years.
“He gives his time and his talent as an auctioneer,” said friend Robert Cornie.
He always makes himself available. He has stepped up and helped raise funds for different organizations and causes untold times. He’s caring and sincere about it and as humble as he can be, Cornie said.
Western Innovator: Lyle Masters
Business: Masters Auction Service
Home: Buhl, Idaho
Family: Three children; three step-children; five grandchildren; three step-grandchildren