A better day

Published 10:55 pm Thursday, June 16, 2011

City officials, United Country employees and others celebrated a ribbon-cutting at United Country A.B. Cole & Associates Auction & Realty’s new location Thursday. From left, Councilmen Charles Parr and Michael Duman, Barry and Kathy Cole, Vice Mayor Charles Brown, Jesse Johnson (standing in for his wife, Mayor Linda T. Johnson), and employees Scott Jones and Charlie King.

For Barry Cole, Thursday was a far better day than April 28, 2008.

When a tornado came roaring through Suffolk that day, Cole, his wife and an employee were huddled in the bathroom in their Pruden Boulevard office building. Once the twister had moved on, the three looked up and saw the menacing sky. Debris outside was piled against the building. His truck and his wife’s car were destroyed.

But yesterday, Cole invited employees, city officials, customers and friends to a ribbon-cutting at United Country A.B. Cole & Associates Auction & Realty’s new location at 2009 Holland Road.

Email newsletter signup

“It’s a great privilege to have the opportunity once in a lifetime to have a ribbon-cutting of our own,” Cole told the assembled crowd.

The company has been in the new location for about a year but never held a formal grand opening. Even so, it was the No. 1 location among Virginia’s 45 United Country offices last year.

Cole first got into the auction business after working in a factory and realizing it was a dead-end career. He went to auction school and has been taking bids since 1976.

“We’ve sold everything from goats to shopping centers,” Cole said. The business has been located in Suffolk for 15 years.

The auctions are mostly conducted online, with live bidding for anyone with an Internet connection.

“You may be in Utah, you might be in Europe,” Cole said, adding that most winners wire their payments within five days of the auction.

The company provides door-to-door service, even photographing and tagging items right where they’re at for estate sales and taking care of the shipping arrangements.

These days, the company mostly specializes in estate sales and real estate, Cole said. About eight people work for Cole’s office, though most of them are independent contractors.

For more information, visit www.abcoleauctions.com or call 539-9866.