24 hours with: Keith Lupton
A day in the life of World Wide Auctioneers’ vice president for sales
Keith Lupton, vice president for sales at Dubai-headquartered World Wide Auctioneers (WWA), explains what it takes to keep pace with the Middle East’s rapidly developing auction scene.
5.45: Wake up with a little prompting from my huge pet cat, a Garfield-clone Arab Mau who thinks he’s a sumo wrestler. Then it’s the first sitting for breakfast, as British Rail used to say. The family’s away at present on domestic matters, so it’s tea East African style. Lots of sugar, ginger, and a strong Yorkshire Tea teabag. Then some porridge; I cheat and put on both salt and sugar.
7.00: Time for a bit of Malcolm Taylor’s Business Breakfast on DubaiEye, essential listening to put me in the right frame of mind for a combative day’s business, which I love. This also helps me to consider the world forum in general. After all, we auctioneers only interpret market trends; we’re not magicians, contrary to popular opinion. But believe me, we do everything we can to squeeze the top dollar for our consignors. That’s what we’re here for.
8.00: Arrive at my first meeting of the day. I’ve already considered my to-do list on the drive to work. It’s true that I’m sometimes deskbound with contracts, but ours can also be a very hands-on business. Getting a consignor to agree to have us sell his equipment at an unreserved auction is always an exciting challenge. We turn his items into cold, hard cash, and in the majority of cases, we achieve a fair market price. Often, we exceed his expectations. That’s why we’re still here.
14.00: Meetings over, I head to WWA’s headquarters in Jebel Ali South. I work my way through e-mails as quickly as possible, researching answers to price queries. These requests typically range from 2004 bulldozers to 1998 chocolate-flavoured chewing gum dispensers – and everything in between. I also use this time to eagerly write overseas buyers, the stalwart supporters of our business.
16.00: Meetings with my fellow salespeople. Each and every Sunday, we arrange away-from-the-office appointments. I hate to be away all day as the contracts and e-mails multiply. Nowadays, people expect the inquiries that they submit today to be answered yesterday.
18.00: Glance at an online newspaper to see what’s happened in the world; I’m a news junkie of sorts.
18.20: Having taken in my quota of the day’s events, I close down the PC and head home. I live near to WWA HQ, so this doesn’t take long. All my life, I’ve based myself near to he who pays the piper; it just makes sense. During the return leg of the journey, I listen to Abu Dhabi FM – crystal-clear signal and relaxing music.
19.00: Usually home by this time, often following a stop-off at the local supermarket. The mind is constantly whirring, for tomorrow is another day at the commercial front line. The auction business is as unforgiving as the world of paper, magazine, or even television production; a magnificent obsession akin to a constantly spinning hamster's wheel. I love the cut and thrust.
20.00: Watch a little television, cook, and eat supper.
11.00: “And so to bed”, as Samuel Pepys once said.
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