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Posted December 8, 2008 | Copyright © The Northern Virginia Daily
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A bid larger: Local family-run company expands to open new auction house

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Family business, Laughlin Auctions Inc., opens this month, offering a place for auctions, parties and other events. Rich Cooley/Daily

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Hoyle Laughlin, president of Laughlin Auctions, Inc., stands inside the firm's new indoor auction house on High Street in Edinburg. Rich Cooley/Daily

By Elizabeth Wilkerson -- Daily Staff Writer

EDINBURG -- A family business is nearly ready to open its new home to the public, its president said Thursday.

"When you call this a family business, that's exactly what it is," said Hoyle Laughlin, president of Laughlin Auctions Inc. Laughlin said he founded the firm with his brothers, John and Duane, in 1986, and it now has about 17 employees, many of whom are members of the family.

Laughlin Auctions Inc. and Ortts Electric formed High Street Properties LLC, which purchased the former Folder Factory complex, at 116-A N. High St., in November 2007, he said. Both firms lease space in the complex from High Street Properties, he said.

"What we did, we tore everything out that was on the inside of the building," Laughlin said. During the renovations, which are about 85 percent complete, new electrical wiring, lighting and a warming kitchen have been installed, he said, and the sprinkler system and bathrooms were upgraded.

"It was an eye-opening experience and a learning experience to go through," he said of renovating the building. Laughlin said the firm has about 15,000 square feet of selling space and 5,000 square feet of storage.

"The advantage to having this building is we can bring merchandise in and set it up right away," Laughlin said. "It's much less labor-intensive."

Perhaps the biggest change, though, has taken place outside the building. About 44,000 pounds of gravel have been added to the complex's parking lot, which now covers roughly 3 acres and can accommodate "somewhere around 220 cars," Laughlin said.

Also, a nearby church and Shentel have agreed to allow the auction house to use their parking lots when needed, he said.

"The town of Edinburg and everybody has been absolutely fabulous to deal with," Laughlin said. "We're excited to be here."

Laughlin Auctions will also continue its relationship with the Shenandoah County Fairgrounds, where it has held auctions since 1986, he said. The firm will continue to hold its large equipment auctions and its annual spring auction at the fairgrounds, he said.

In recent years, Laughlin said, the Internet has become a significant part of the auction business. The firm has a Web site -- www.laughlinauctions.com -- and is listed on www.auctionz-ip.com, he said.

"If you're gonna be in the auction business now, you have to have a Web site," he said. Laughlin said he has been talking with three online bidding companies, but he hasn't "sealed the deal" with any of them yet.

"The thing with online bidding is there is a tremendous amount of work to it prior to the auction," he said.

But, online auctions are no substitute for their live counterparts, he said.

"Nothing takes the place of being there in person," Laughlin said. "The auction business is a lot of work, but it's a lot of fun. We have fun on a daily basis."

Laughlin said the auction gallery would be rented out for wedding receptions, parties and other events, and the firm hopes to host an event in conjunction with Edinburg's Ole Time Festival next year.

"There is a demand for it in this area and we're not going to have an auction every weekend," he said. But, he said, the facility is "an auction gallery first."

The first auction at the new building will take place on Dec. 13, Laughlin said, but customers can visit the new space during an open house from 1 to 3 p.m. on Sunday. A special auction is also set for Jan. 10, he said.

"The first auction is not gonna be quite as large as we do sometimes," Laughlin said. "We want to try to work the bugs out on the first one, if that's possible."

*Contact Elizabeth Wilkerson at ewilkerson@nvdaily.com

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