Back in January, Dave Magers helped sell a car.
It was to David Spade, the stand-up comedian, actor and sitcom star.
"Seemed like a nice, regular, down-to-earth kind of a guy," says Magers.
The car Spade bought cost him $1 million; it was a fully restored version of the '69 Dodge Daytona Spade drove in the movie, "Joe Dirt."
A few months later, this time at a gathering in Monterey, Calif., Magers looked across the room and saw Reggie Jackson, the baseball legend, and Nadia Comaneci, the Olympic great.
A healthy-looking 6 feet himself, Magers nonetheless felt a little short and a bit tiny, too, when one day not long ago, he found himself at a meeting sitting next to Shaquille O'Neal who is 7 feet and weighs 315 pounds.
Other morning, on the panel in a glassed building along Sixth Avenue in Manhattan, Magers was a live guest on "Squawk Box," the popular morning business show that airs on CNBC.
Still ahead is an invitation to visit the governor's mansion in New York where Gov. Andrew Cuomo wants to see if he and Magers can do business.
And this is Dave Magers' retirement.
"Retirement is hard and time-consuming ... and I'm having a lot of fun," says Magers, a Normal Community High School and Illinois State University graduate.
For more than 35 years, he worked at Country Companies, a company that eventually became Country Financial, where he eventually became its CFO.
He'd leave his west Bloomington home, drive four miles to work, sit in his office 7 to 5, attend six to eight meetings a day and then drive home.
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Then at age 57, in his wheelhouse prime, still young enough to enjoy the fruits but old enough to have accrued some money and a nice home, with an equally successful wife (Karen is director of Bloomington Eye Institute), Magers did something that many a man might mull.
He up and quit.
"I knew what I was doing," he attests.
Today at 60, in association with a long-time friend, Dana Mecum — the same guy who used to own those "Bloomington Gold" Corvette Shows — Magers is CEO of Mecum Auctions, an auction house of collector cars that goes across the country, city after city, selling off vintage cars.
Just this year alone, the company will take about 15,000 cars, valued at close to a half-billion dollars, and auction them off at more than a dozen car events.
And Magers, the grandson of an auto mechanic and a lifelong car buff, will continue enjoying "retirement," even if it involves now putting in, he says, about a 70-hour "work" week.
Maybe you've spotted "Mecum Auctions" on your TV screen.
Still living in Bloomington but with a condo along the lakefront in Chicago and a workplace in the Lake Geneva area of Wisconsin (where Mecum is based), Magers was the key figure in brokering a deal with NBC and NBCSN that brought the auctions to TV.
One day last spring, hurrying to an appointment with NBC execs in New York, he tripped on a sidewalk crack in front of Radio City Music Hall, hurt a hand, went on in and attended meetings all day anyway. But on the way back to his hotel that evening, he stopped off at an urgent care center along the way. That's where X-rays revealed four broken bones in his right hand.
It also revealed the pace and style by which Magers likes to live. "TV meetings are important," he says. "You don't miss them, unless you are dead."
This year, he's traveled extensively and helped orchestrate auctions in Seattle, Monterey, Denver, Kansas City, Indianapolis, Houston, Las Vegas, Kissimmee, Fla., and next week, Dallas. He returns home on weekends to try bringing new soccer fields to Normal (he's a leader in a project to create a soccer complex there). Home also gives him time to keep running his own personal high-performance car collection. It includes a Lamborghini, Ferrari, a high-performance Mercedes and a Bentley, all in his home's garage.
Yes, Dave Magers is the guy who recently sold a car to David Spade.
But you'd have to say this: thanks to his own driven success, these days he's got life rather flush in spades himself.
And this is just his retirement.
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