Beech Grove’s Mike Heimel recognized for years of service
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By Al Stilley
Southsider Voice correspondent
Beech Grove business owner and auctioneer Mike Heimel went to his first auction as a child and was hooked immediately.
Heimel, founder and owner of Mike Heimel Auction Service, went to auctions with his parents and has been recognized with the state’s highest achievement award as one of two 2014 inductees into the Indiana Auctioneers Association Hall of Fame.
Fittingly, Heimel was inducted late last year in ceremonies held in Downtown Indianapolis by longtime Southside auctioneer Jack Christy, owner of Christy’s of Indiana, 6851 Madison Ave. Christy is a Hall of Fame member and past president of the association.
“He is a friendly competitor, but that really made the honor even more special,” Heimel said. “I had no clue that I was to be inducted; my wife knew for nearly a year ... and then the family knew, but they really kept it a secret from me until that very special night.”
Christy even donned a racing jacket for the occasion in acknowledgement of Heimel’s passion for motor sports.
Heimel, current director of the association, was inducted with the first woman inductee, Sarah Minor of Madison.
Heimel, who has been in the business since 1977, explained that his success is solely because of “great friends, customers, a supporting family and employees.”
He first did “pop-up” auctions for two years at the old Orme’s Carpet building at 5500 Meridian Street before moving into his 5,000-square-foot building at 59 N. Second Ave. in Beech Grove, where public auctions are conducted at 6:30 p.m. every Thursday. His office walls are filled with NASCAR memorabilia.
He trained under veteran auctioneer Herman Strakis and received his auctioneer license at the Pop Davis School of Auctioneering in Morgantown in 1977. Under Strakis, he learned how to treat customers fairly and honestly – traits that have stuck with him through the decades.
“If you treat the customers, buyers and sellers well, they will come back,” Heimel said. “Happy customers always come back.”
The auction business is ever-changing, and he has been able to keep up with trends.
Heimel’s is a full-time family-owned auction company and appraisal service that specializes in estates, households, antiques, business liquidations, on-site and real estate auctions (the latter by partnering with Maurice “Mo” Harbert of Realty World-Harbert Co.).
Heimel holds about 75 to 100 auctions yearly and just completed its gigantic nine-hour New Year’s Day sale.
“People’s tastes change, although you see many of the same people at different auctions,” Heimel said. “It definitely is a fun business.”
He considers his business “family” and rightfully so. The trade includes co-owner/wife Leslie, son Jeff Leak, daughter Jennifer Davis, daughter-in-law Valerie Leak, grandson Blake Davis, granddaughters Erica and Emily Leak, both of whom attend Beech Grove Schools, and employees, who Heimel says are like extended family.
Davis is an avid pilot who flies family members in a small single-engine plane from Greenwood Municipal Airport. He enjoys flying over Indiana University and the scenic splendor of Brown County.
High-selling items nowadays include antique toys, coins, jewelry, tools, well-kept modern and midcentury furniture and industrial-related items.
Heimel has sold many interesting items: the organ used by Sammy Terry (the late Bob Carter) on TV; the late Kenny Irwin Jr. campgrounds; a putt-putt golf location in Carmel; a Stutz Bearcat with a fire truck chassis; and Irwin’s NASCAR Craftsman Series first-win truck and midget car (to Ray Skillman Classic Cars).
For many years, Heimel’s interest in racing would lead him to the nearby Speedrome and sprint car tracks throughout Indiana, oftentimes traveling with Chris Jockish, owner of Jockish Flowers on South East Street.
Heimel has sponsored several race cars driven by Jack Dossey of Franklin Township and many late model and world figure-8 championships at the Speedrome. He now sponsors Dossey’s son, Jack Dossey III, who was the 2014 CRA Sportsman Rookie of the Year and track champion and top rookie at Anderson Speedway.
Appropriately, Heimel will present Dossey III with his three awards Sunday at a recognition banquet hosted by the Hoosier Auto Race Fans, of which Heimel is a past board member.
From a business standpoint, Heimel contends that a successful auction doesn’t just happen; it’s planned for success – just the way the gentlemanly auctioneer and his family plan it.