When Adam Jokisch was growing up, he had fun going to auctions with his family.
That love for auctioneering led to the creation 29 years ago of Adam’s Auction & Real Estate Services Inc., and then to the opening of the St. Clair County Event Center this spring at 1550 East State Route 15 in Belleville near South Green Mount Road.
Jokisch said he “never dreamed it would turn into the career that it has turned into.”
It’s a unique building. It’s a unique thing that we do.
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The grand opening concert for the event center was April 29 with music by Nashville, Tenn.-based country artist Daryle Singletary.
Belleville’s City Council last year granted tax incentives worth about $298,000 in sales tax and property tax rebates for the event center, which will cost nearly $3 million to build. Construction on the event center began last year.
“I think everybody in the community is going to benefit from it,” Jokisch said. “It’s a unique building. It’s a unique thing that we do.”
Jokisch, 47, recently met with the News-Democrat to talk about his career and business:
Q: How did you get started as an auctioneer?
A: “We went to auctions as a kid because I grew up on a farm in rural Freeburg, still live there. But always went to auctions, was always just kind of infatuated with the auctioneer. Just trying to learn how to talk fast when you’re 10, 12, 13 years old. And then by the time I was in high school, I realized maybe I could do this ...
“But my senior year in high school, my teacher Alan Dye had a church benefit auction in Collinsville at the Son-Life Church and they realized at the last minute they didn’t have an auctioneer and ... my buddies in my class said, ‘Adam can do it.’ My first auction was my senior year in high school ... for my (Mascoutah) high school teacher.”
Q: How did your auction company get started?
A: Jokisch, who went to the Missouri Auction School in Kansas City, said he began Adam’s Auction with his father, David, in 1988. Jokisch worked part-time with the auction company and with his father as a painting contractor until 1997 when he devoted all his time to the auction company.
“I started out in ’88, doing it part-time for several years. And then in 1993 I won the Illinois state champion auctioneer contest. And that kind of definitely helped my career in getting things going and getting your name and stuff like that and started to get some more sales. In 1997, I decided to do it full time.”
In the mid-1990s, the company started conducting more real estate sales. Jokisch said his company handles “all types of real estate, homes, farmland, commercial property, anything to do with the real estate, we sell it either by auction or we also list and sell.”
Q: When did you expand nationally?
A: “People don’t realize that we are nationwide. We went nationwide probably about six, seven years ago. We have a yard down in Little Rock, Ark., and we have a yard out in Denver. Like this, an industrial yard where we conduct industrial auctions. Most of them are all railroad equipment type auctions. But we do auctions for a couple of different railroads across the country from the East Coast to the West Coast.
“Trust me when I started off, I thought, ‘Well, I’d just stay right around here.’ You know, we’ve been blessed and business has been very good.”
Q: How many employees do you have?
A: “28 full- and part-time employees.”
Q: Why did you open the St. Clair County Event Center?
A: “I had this plan for a long time,” Jokisch said.
He initially targeted a 10-acre site in Mascoutah but he said his concept didn’t meet the city’s codes. His company rented space at the Belle-Clair Fairgrounds for several years.
“Business kept growing and growing and I just saw a need for a new venue, a new commercial building so I built the St. Clair County Event Center so the public would have a new venue and so we could grow our auction business.”
Q: What are features of the center?
A: It has 20,000 square feet under roof and another 12,000 square feet under canopies. The construction costs nearly $3 million. It has a large main room for auctions, a full kitchen and offices. Some construction work is still ongoing and is expected to be finished soon. The Country Cafe to be operated by Roy-el Catering of Belleville is still being built.
The company offers estate and consignment auctions on the second and fourth Thursdays. Flea markets are scheduled for the first full weekend each month.
“The last flea market was a huge success, a lot of vendors and a lot of visitors. People are really excited about the flea market,” Jokisch said. A real estate auction is scheduled at the center this Wednesday night.
Also, the center will host dealer-only auto auctions conducted by Manheim Gateway St. Louis. Other possible events include car shows, boat shows and wedding receptions or rehearsal dinners.
Jokisch said the center is “phase 1” on 12.5 acres but the site has a total of about 30 acres.
The veteran auctioneer praised the City Council and other city leaders for their support of the event center.
Matt Bova is the general manager of the center and John Huff oversees the flea markets.
Also, employees of Adam’s Auction & Real Estate Services Inc. based at 120 W. Main St. in Belleville will transfer to the center and Jokisch plans to rent out the downtown office space he owns.
Q: What’s the outlook for your business?
A: “We’re very optimistic with the auction business. We’ve been blessed with some great help and great clients and it’s grown considerably. This is our 29th year of doing auction sales. I think there will always be a need for what we do. We’re looking at expanding a lot more in the industrial marketplace … now that we have this facility. We’re having a large, big truck auction June 1 here where we sell heavy trucks and heavy equipment.
“Like I said, a lot of people are excited with the new building, the new venue. It’s a great location right here on Highway 15. So I think the outlook is good.”
- Job: Owner of Adam’s Auction & Real Estate Services Inc. and the St. Clair County Event Center at 1550 E. State Route 15 in Belleville.
- Family: His wife, Danielle, handles the company’s accounting and bookkeeping. They have three children, Emma, 13; A.J., 9; and Wyatt, 4.
- Contact: St. Clair County Event Center page on Facebook, scceventcenter.com, http://www.adamsauctions.com/or call 618-830-7552.