Published: January 4, 2019
By Rick Russack
PORTSMOUTH, N.H. – As fast-paced as the auctioneer’s calls are, faster are the dynamics of the business behind the scenes. For 72-year-old Ron Bourgeault, a time of reckoning has arrived. The door is closing at Northeast Auctions, the company he founded more than 30 years ago, and another is opening. Bourgeault has announced the formation of Bourgeault-Horan Antiquarians & Associates LLC, a partnership with James E. Horan Jr.
Spring and summer sales will be held as they have been in the past, with the auction schedule to be announced, said Bourgeault. But Northeast’s staff is gone and the fate of the 1818 Treadwell Mansion, home to the company for many years since Bourgeault bought it in the early 1990s, is uncertain. He may keep it – or he may not.
One of the key words in the name of the new company is “Associates,” Bourgeault told Antiques and the Arts Weekly, saying that he wants to be able to bring in different people. He said that James Horan Jr has been with him for 25 years but never had the recognition. After exploring possible models and consulting with friends and colleagues, Bourgeault and Horan settled on a new, smaller format. Bourgeault will be getting more involved with Strawbery Banke, an outdoor history museum in Portsmouth, and wants to spend more time in Florida, digging up stuff.
“I’ve ‘reinvented’ myself before, going from a shop owner with a heavy show schedule, to the auction business,” Bourgeault said. “I love the business and the people I deal with. I want that to continue. Some of the things I’ve done for years are simply too expensive in today’s auction world. The thousands of free catalogs, with extensive descriptions, that I’ve always mailed out for my sales have certainly contributed to my success, but I’m not sure they’re needed today. I will do one for the annual August sale, but probably won’t after that. Maintaining the large building is too expensive and it may not be part of my long-range plans. 2019 is the year for me to figure out which way to go and to get my expenses in line with today’s business. I know that I want to continue giving my customers – buyers and sellers – the same level of personal attention they’ve come to expect. But as I look around the auction world today, I see that many companies are making changes to the way they do business and those changes will continue. I have to do the same. It’s not only the auction business that is changing, so is Portsmouth. Long established businesses are changing hands.”
Bourgeault-Horan will conduct auctions, sell privately and operate as consultants. The auctioneer said that consignments are coming in for the next sales. “I’ve never been more excited and never been so happy,” Bourgeault said. “Caroline Tamposi, who worked for me this past summer, is going to be working on getting bright, young people interested. It’s been a wonderful ride and I’ve loved every second of it. This is an exciting new chapter.”
For additional information, www.northeastauctions.com or 603-433-8400.
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