Orwig Auction and Event Center takes shape

“Never thought I’d have two tuxes”—Joe Orwig

By Jim Nowlan
[email protected]

A new multi-purpose events facility, which can seat 350 for dinner at round tables, will host its first major event April 1. This will be a dinner-auction fundraiser for the Stark County 100 athletic upgrades, according to auctioneer Joe Orwig.

Karen and Joe Orwig.

The Orwig Auction and Event Center is a 6,400-square foot building under construction on Grain Bin Road, just east of Toulon.

The center will feature kitchen, liquor license, heated sidewalks, handicap accessibility, plenty of parking. This is all that you would ever need for wedding receptions, family reunions, trade shows, car shows, proms, dinner theatre, comedy nights, musicals, you name it, and of course, auctions.

“We’re optimistic we’ll fill a niche,” says Karen Orwig, who handles the business side of Orwig Auction Service. Meanwhile front-man Joe travels all over the country doing benefit auctions and selling heavy equipment.

“There isn’t anything really like our center around here,” says Joe, in what The News calls “the land between the Interstates” (I-80, I-74 and the Illinois River).

“And if we bring, say, 200 cars a week into the county, those folks will stop for gas, pick up this or that at our stores, do some business,” says Joe. He has been at his craft since coming out of auctioneering school in North Carolina in 1982 at age 19, fresh out of Toulon-LaFayette High School.

“And we want to stimulate ideas for all kinds of events,” says Karen, a registered nurse who nurses hopes that the couple’s business, expanded by their new events center, will allow her to focus full time on the people-oriented work the two love so much.

The new building will be Joe and Karen’s permanent business home for such activities as a large monthly auction.

Pictured is the new Orwig Auction and Event Center located on the east edge of Toulon, off Grain Bin Road.

“The center will also be good for specialty sales such as guns, and coins. Even a Stark County memorabilia, auction, which could feature simultaneous live and online bidding” says Joe.

Good auctioneering requires people skills

“You just gotta be able to read people,” says Joe about what it takes to be a successful auctioneer. “And you have to be a ‘people person.’ And you have to build the trust of your followers.”

“It’s satisfying knowing you can be helpful to people—both seller and buyer,” adds Joe. He is secretary-treasurer of the 400-member Illinois Auctioneer’s Association.

Joe’s work takes him all over the country. He contracts his services out to Ritchie Brothers, a company that sells used heavy equipment all over the country.

Joe is also asked to do benefit auctions, even up on the ritzy North Shore of Chicago.

“I never thought I’d own a tuxedo, let alone two,” says Joe, with his typical big, warm smile. “But that’s the attire for many of those events.

“And up there you always say, ‘Ladies and gentlemen,’ not ‘Okay, you guys,’ as we would out here in the country.”

“I really enjoy benefits—the people and the good purposes,” Joe adds.

Right now, Karen’s day job is with United Health Care, an insurance company, and specifically working with heart transplant patients.

Joe and Karen have two children, Nolan and Olivia. In addition, Karen has Michael by a previous marriage, and Joe has Jessica, Brandon and Josh, also from a previous marriage.

Best wishes in your exciting new venture, Joe and Karen.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *