Mark Barrack, Head of Specialist Auctions, Thainstone Specialist Auctions
 
What is your role at ANM Group?
My role is to oversee the operational, managerial and administrative aspects of the Thainstone Specialist Auction (TSA) - team of six - in addition to working closely with the Executive Team on the strategic vision and future planning of the division.  I am also the Senior Auctioneer and Valuer and still maintain strong links with the customers and develop new and existing business. 
 
How long have you worked at the ANM Group?
I started with the Group in 1987 as a clerical assistant at the old Kittybrewster Mart in Aberdeen, and travelled throughout the North of Scotland working at various regional marts.  When the Aberdeen markets closed and business transferred out to Thainstone Centre in 1990, I worked there for a few months before moving up to Wick & Thurso Marts and latterly the new Quoybrae centre for three years as a junior auctioneer and canvasser.  I then returned to Thainstone Centre as a junior auctioneer canvassing livestock in the North East area and helping to develop the direct marketing of cast sows to Cheale Meats. 
 
In 1995, I joined the TSA division working on the vehicle and furniture sales with the remit - along with Grant Rogerson - to develop and grow the division’s industrial and commercial auctions.  We started with small retiral sales of garages, builders and small engineering works, then two and three day auctions of Offshore Fabrication Equipment for Kvaerner Oil & Gas in Methil, Fife and Port Clarence, Middlesborough.  This work really helped build the strong reputation we have today all over the UK.  Our Saturday plant, machinery and equipment sales, in partnership with our Aberdeen and Northern Marts division, really began to grow from 1995 - expanding from agricultural to commercial and industrial items really put us on the world map. 
 
What projects do you/will you work on?
Our main project is to continue to develop all aspects of our business from private individual businesses to corporate and insolvency clients whilst maintaining and building on our reputation and providing an excellent service to our customers. I have worked on a diverse range of projects selling assets varying from hairdressers, garages, fishing boats, roll-on roll-off cargo vessels, heavy engineering equipment, construction plant and oil and gas equipment.  In 2010, on the instruction of the receivers of the Les Taylor Group, we held the sale reported as the biggest plant auction at Thainstone Centre, using both live and online bidding facilities.  In 2012 we conducted a year-long project where we valued 39 meat processing factories throughout the UK & Ireland. This year a three-month logistics operation was undertaken to gather items of large demolition plant from as far apart as Lyness in Orkney and Scunthorpe, and repatriate them back to Grangemouth to be sold at auction.  All of these projects are a real team effort with all hands on deck to deliver quality service.
 
What skills do you need?
As an agent between buyers and sellers, we must be able to communicate effectively with everyone we meet – everyone is an existing or potential customer! An important skill is to manage customer’s expectations; we are fair and realistic when providing valuations and advice. Management skills are also key to having a great team working with you, like I do, that are trusted and well-respected in the industry. 

What does your average day entail?
My working day begins at 8.30am when I arrive at the office, check emails and meet with the team to plan the day ahead.  Today, I then walked up to the implement field to check on progress on the entries of vehicles, plant and machinery arriving for the upcoming Saturday sale.  This was followed by the completion of the reports on valuations conducted by myself and the team the previous day. 
 
This evening we also have our twice-weekly vehicle sale, so I went down to the Exchange auction venue to check with the office and yard staff that everything was set-up and all vehicles are ready for viewing - most importantly I made sure the microphone was operational ready for auctioneering.   I then headed back to the office to follow-up on calls to customers, have an update meeting with our Executive Director and then discuss the plans for the upcoming week with the team.  On a night I am selling, I also like to catch up with dealers and buyers before the sale to discuss the current market place and how they are finding things in their own businesses.
 
What are your current challenges?
The current uncertain economy (both locally and nationally) is a challenge; it is a concern but in our line of business, opportunities also arise from this and through our ability to conduct auctions both live and online , we are in a good position to maximise any potential opportunities. 
 
What are your long-term plans?
Our plans are simple – to continue to grow the business further whilst offering the best and most competitive service to our customers.  This includes rolling out and making the most of live internet sales to reach a global audience. 
 
Are there opportunities for training and development?
Every day is a learning day.  We learn through the job with constant changing markets, industry and the landscape that we work in.  We provide the team with continual IT training to ensure we are leaders in online marketing and auctions. 
 
Are there any travel opportunities?
The UK is our market, with opportunities in Europe, and we travel where the work is.  But with today’s internet – the world is our oyster. 
 
What advice would you give to anyone looking to join ANM Group?
It is great to be a part of a fair and diverse co-operative with many opportunities and career progression.  
 
What about hobbies/interests?
Agriculture is in my blood - along with the occasional gin - and with the help of my wife and three children, we are the third generation to run our mixed arable and livestock farm (80 cattle & 150 breeding ewes). I also have a love of building and fixing things and can often be found erecting a new shed, or in the workshop welding in a winters evening.  I have now retired from football – as my legs slow me down – but still play the odd game of golf badly every now and then.