Bidders gather for multi-farm auction

HOFFMAN, Minn. — Auctioneer Jerome Hanson hopes his "Metal to Money" multi-party farm auction can do just that for sellers — turn the sales from their "metal" like fence posts, tractors, grain augers and other farm machinery, into cash.

If the amount of equipment, around 1,000 to 1,200 lots, and number of buyers and sellers, more than 1,000 in all, who attend the bi-yearly auction near Hoffman are any indication, Metal to Money has accomplished its goal.

Tthe auction, which took place last week,  had an auspicious beginning.

Hanson started Metal to Money just three years after beginning his business in 1989. But soon after the first event ended, Hanson doubted there would be another. Only 30 percent of the items sold.

He kept the auction going after receiving calls from people wondering when the next Metal to Money auction would take place. The event grew in popularity and sales each year. Now around 98 percent to 99 percent of the items sell, he said.


The auction has changed over its 20-year history. He held a farm show in conjunction with the sale for five years. While the show was popular, it was also a lot of work, Hanson said.

"We had 10 to 12 big tents rented for the show," he said. "We had the local equipment dealers and demonstrations. You could test drive a new tractor. We had 60 to 70 acres of ground for the show, but something had to give ... My regret is that we didn’t continue it."

The popularity of Metal to Money grew. In one year, he held four of the auctions. Besides two sales at Hoffman, Hanson also conducted Metal to Money auctions in Starbuck and Madison. But so much labor was required to handle the shows so he decided to downsize the event.

In its early days, the fall sale took place in the Hoffman Cooperative’s parking lot. He then moved everything to his farmland. The firm alfalfa ground is good for parking with ample room for the machinery.

When the area was hit with a three-inch rain one year and caused many vehicles to get stuck, he created a gravel road so buyers can drive within 10 feet of any item on the auction bill. The big-top tent his staff once used for clerking the sale was replaced with an office he moved on the site.

Hanson’s Metal to Money sale is held in the fall and spring. The fall sale, usually the larger of the two, takes place the first Friday in September. Hanson, a third-generation farmer who also raises corn and soybeans, conducts a plot day with Prairie Lakes Cooperative the day before the fall sale. About 200 to 300 people attend the plot day.

The date for the spring sale varies depending on weather, Hanson said. This year the event is a couple weeks later than normal due to late spring snows. Originally the sale was set for April 2 and was moved to the 13th.

"It will be a go on that date — rain or shine," he said several days before the event.


There were almost 1,000 registered bidders and 178 sellers at the event. The weather was good and the bidding hot for the machinery.

Weeks of preparation go into the event. Farmers call Hanson about the sale and bring their equipment. Once the sale ends, it may take a couple days for buyers to get all the equipment home.

Metal to Money is possible thanks to his crew, Hanson said. His wife, Natalie, clerks the event. Charlie Oachs from Herman helps call the auction. Others take bids, park cars and provide security for the sale, which starts at 9 a.m. and usually ends around 3 p.m.. About 25 people who work at the auction, he said.

Hanson has always been interested in auctions and auctioneering. His fervor started as a child when he attended auction sales with his father and grandfather. Many of those sales were called by Col. Orvin Rosin of nearby Barrett.

"He inspired me," Hanson said of Rosin.

Rosin often called a hello to the Hanson trio as they walked onto the sale site.

Rosin and Hanson didn’t work together often once Hanson started his business. But after Rosin was diagnosed with prostrate cancer, he called on Hanson to help with is final two sales.

"That was an honor for me," said Hanson of working with his mentor. "I know he probably left this world saying, ‘You know that Hanson, he’s all right."


The sale bills for the Metal to Money and other Hanson auctions can be viewed at

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