Auctioneer Garrett Jones has suffered from a little bit of stage fright for years, but his effort to overcome it may just make him a world champion next month.
Jones is heading to Montgomery, Ala. the weekend of June 15 to participate in the finals of the Livestock Marketing Association's World Livestock Auctioneer Championship.
"When it comes down to auctioneering a lot of it is getting in front of people, public speaking. That was my hardest thing, getting up in front of people and talking," Jones said. "I remember the first time getting up at Dos Palos Y, getting up on the block and selling baby calves. I remember being terrified.
"The first year that I sold the fair I remember the butterflies were unbelievable because it's your hometown and you know everybody. I was probably more nervous there than I will be at the world championship."
Jones, 29, has made a living as an auctioneer for the past seven years. He mainly sells livestock, but he has dabbled in auctioning off real estate and cars. His job has taken him to places throughout the Central Valley and Bay Area.
Jones said the toughest thing to sell as an auctioneer is cattle.
"When you're selling somebody's cattle you're dealing with somebody's livelihood. You're holding their living in your hand so you want to get the best price you can for them," Jones said.
Two times in his life Jones has lost his voice from auctioneering. He deals with getting a dry mouth like every auctioneer does -- keeping water close by. Getting tongue-tied, however, is not a concern.
"Tongue tied? Eh. Professional buyers can notice it right off the bat, but like if I was selling to the general public I can probably get myself out of it and no one would really notice," he said.
Jones grew up near Los Banos. His father drove a livestock truck and his best friend's father ran a dairy. At 19 he went to school to become an auctioneer. He signed up for Toastmasters International, a non-profit educational group that teaches public speaking and leadership skills.
Jones said what makes a good auctioneer is being clear, friendly and cultivating relationships.
He said his friend, Scott Silveira, is much better than he at auctioneering the small intimate venues. Silveira's father and Jones are among the best at auctioneering, Silveira said.
Silveira said Jones is better than him.
"He is fundamentally a better auctioneer," Silveira said. "I have the benefit of knowing more people so doing those charity fundraiser auctions, I know who to mention or who to rib. He's making strides at doing that."
The World Livestock Auctioneer Championship will include selling 10 lots of animals and an interview segment. The Livestock Marketing Association wants its champion to be a spokesman as well as a salesman.
Jones is unsure how well he will do in the competition.
"I could go to work every day and have the best day of my life one day and have a bad day the next day. I think the contest comes down to what kind of day you're having," Jones said.
Win or lose at the world championship, Jones is content in his profession and the people he works around.
"I like the people," Jones said. "Some of the people I've met are second to none."
Silveira said he knows his friend will be champion one day.
"I tell him when he becomes a champion he still has to come around and do the Portugese celebrations and still come do the fairs."