EDITOR’S NOTE: This is a continuing investigation into the powersports auction business and alleged losses incurred by dealers that consign vehicles to certain firms that now find themselves the subject of complaints to state and federal authorities. What follows is a companion story to "Same players, different names? Another auction firm draws dealers' wrath" (click HERE for that story).
WHAT IS THE RELATIONSHIP between MPA owner Donnie “Mike” Smotherman and Leon McGregor, formerly with National Public Auction and My Auction Connection? And are either of them linked to Extreme Live Auctions, now the subject of a number of dealer complaints?
In separate interviews with Dealernews, Smotherman and McGregor denied any connection between Extreme Live Auctions and MPA. But there are certain coincidences:
- The Extreme Live Auctions website includes slide shows of auctions the company claims it held every month from October 2011 to August 2012, even though its business name did not exist until September 2012. Certain photos on the Extreme website show the MPA logo. (The site changed URL addresses last week.)
- Dealers reported hearing a MPA phone message when calling the phone number on the Extreme Live Auctions website for a certain time period.
- There seems to be a personal and/or professional relationship between Auction House Productions’ owner of record, Jeffrey Scott Shouppe, and Smotherman. “I know him, but I don’t have a business relationship with him,” Smotherman said. Smotherman’s assertion counters a dealer who, in a late 2011 interview, said Shouppe talked him into sending vehicles to MPA for a “Twin Towers Memorial Auction” to be held Sept. 11, 2011, at MPA’s Poplar Bluff facility. Shouppe did not return phone calls seeking comment for this article by press time.
- Extreme Live Auction filed a business name registration as “Auction House Productions” with the Missouri Secretary of State on Sept. 13, just eight days after the BBB issued its warning about MPA. Extreme gave a rented mailbox for its St. Louis address on the filing, along with Shouppe’s home address in Goodlettsville, Tenn.
- Bills of lading for the 16 vehicles that Jamie’s Customs sent to Extreme Live Auctions in October, believing they would be auctioned in St. Louis, show that the vehicles were shipped to and sold at what Smotherman contends is no longer an MPA facility in Poplar Bluff, Mo. Smotherman said he rented the building while MPA was operational, but stopped renting it and closed the business after the September 2012 auction.
- Smotherman, who lives in Tennessee, said he opened MPA in Missouri because the cost renting the facility there was about 25 percent less than what it would have cost him in his home state. He also said similar business complaints against Elite, Nashville Powersport Auction, America’s Powersports Auction and MAC “made it impossible to do business in Tennessee.” But longtime auctioneer James Ferguson, who has called auctions for Elite, MAC and MPA, said “The problem in Murfreesboro is, you cannot sell title-able items to the public [at auction] in Tennessee.”
On Nov. 27, the day after a complaint regarding Extreme Live Auctions was posted on RipoffReport.com, Shouppe registered the URL www.Xtremeauctionmo.com. (His last name is spelled Shouppe or Schouppe, depending on the document.)
Dealernews to date has not found any lawsuits against Extreme Live Auction. But at least three lawsuits have been filed against MPA, all making similar claims. The claims are also similar to those in a string of lawsuits and complaints against other companies with overlapping personnel and a lot in common.
‘Back in the day.’ McGregor identified himself to Dealernews as a consultant for several Tennessee and Missouri auctions (including MPA) offering various Invoice Protection Plans.
Smotherman said McGregor never worked for MPA; however, the company’s original URL, midwestpublicauction.com, is indeed registered to McGregor.
“I do know Leon from back in the day when he was in Nashville. He didn’t work for Midwest,” Smotherman said.
But what about the URL registration? “I didn’t know it was his,” Smotherman added. “I didn’t know that he owned it. I had a company that did every bit of that [web development] for me.”
Smotherman, speaking separately with Dealernews in late November, speculated that McGregor had registered the name in 2011 as part of an effort with My Auction Connection owner John Vincent Trotter to open another auction firm after MAC went into bankruptcy. “They tried to be competition for me. They were trying to wreck my website. They were trying to steal my website,” Smotherman said. (continued)