Auto auction owner Griffin has iron in her blood

Mike De Sisti

Kristie Griffin, owner of the Greater Milwaukee Auto Auction, takes bids during a recent auction. “It is a rush,” explains Griffin, who runs the dealer-only auction each Thursday and sells nearly 1,000 cars at each auction, generally at a rate of one every 45 seconds.

From family of car sales people, she races and sells -fast

By Rick Romell of the Journal Sentinel

Jan. 11, 2011 |(16) CommentsKristie Griffin wears suede boots with spike heels, shakes hands like a man (firm grip, holds just long enough, looks you square in the eye) and knows how to move a car. Twelve years ago she was sliding them into the curves fast enough to become a dirt-track champion at Beaver Dam. Now she owns a firm that auctions them off, one every 45 seconds.

Her company, the Greater Milwaukee Auto Auction, is small but growing. The northwest-side operation, which sells only to dealers, is expanding physically, adding employees and generally offering competition to the much larger Manheim Milwaukee auction along I-94 in Caledonia.

"Kristie's a good person to work for," said Josh Hickey, an Illinois auctioneer whose regular circuit includes Griffin's operation. "She's really a go-getter."

Not much doubt there. Griffin, 38, bounces around her 120-employee business like a pinball, calls men "sweetie" and talks almost as fast as her auctioneers.

"I think fast, is the problem," she said. "I don't talk as fast as I think."

If there's a gene for selling cars, Griffin has it on all 46 chromosomes. Her father sells them, her brothers sell them and she's been hanging around dealerships since she was a kid.

She has to be among a minuscule number of daughters whose fathers got angry because they enrolled in college.

"He took a look at it," Griffin recalled, "and said, 'This is stupid. You should be selling cars.' "

Before long, she was. She lasted three semesters at the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater. It was boring.

She returned to the family business, lured in part by her dad's promise to buy her a short-track race car. By age 20, she was a dealer herself with her brothers.

"It's who we are," she said.

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