By Lakin Whatley
What started as a challenge from a friend in high school parlayed into a successful career for Chuck Bradley.
Bradley began auctioneering when he was 17 after a classmate encouraged him to develop his skills for a high school talent show. With no auctioneering experience, Bradley relied on the internet to teach him how to sell.
Fast forward 11 years. Bradley, now 28, owns the title of World Livestock Auctioneer Champion after winning the 2021 Livestock Marketing Association (LMA) contest June 7 in Nashville, Tennessee.
“It was a surreal moment when I received this title,” Bradley said. “I knew what I had to do to win the contest, and I gave it my all.”
A native of Rockford, Bradley is a full-time auctioneer, selling cattle each Monday at Montgomery Stockyards and Tuesdays at Cullman Stockyard. He sells automobiles at auctions on Wednesdays and Thursdays, and, in his spare time, auctioneers equipment sales along with registered cattle sales in surrounding states.
Montgomery Stockyards owner and past LMA President Jerry Etheridge knows a good auctioneer is invaluable to his business.
“Chuck has a great chant and pace that keeps the auction flowing smoothly,” he said. “He does an excellent job in representing the stockyard and the sellers that we work for.”
Bradley takes his responsibility as the seller’s agent seriously.
“When I auctioneer somebody’s product, it is their livelihood on my shoulders,” Bradley said. “I sell every calf like it is my own, and I want producers to be able to trust me.”
Bradley competed in a pre-qualifying event before reaching the finals. At the LMA World Auctioneer Championship, contestants must also go through an interview worth 25% of their final score. Questions covered what holding the title would mean to the winner as well as current events within the industry. As winner, he received $6,000; use of a Ford truck for one year; commemorative gun; championship belt buckles; and other prizes.
Bradley qualified for the Auctioneer Championship three consecutive years before bringing the award back to Alabama. He was reserve champion in 2019.
Staying humble, working hard and never giving up were the keys to his success, said Bradley, a graduate of the North Georgia School of Auctioneering.
“I enjoy what I do, and I am so glad I get to wake up every morning knowing I am going to do something I used to only dream about,” he said.
Southside, Alabama’s Brandon Neely won the LMA contest in 2015. In over 55 years, Bradley and Neely are the only Alabama auctioneers to win the coveted title. The men are friends, and Bradley said Neely was a mentor throughout the contest.