James decided on the spot one February morning in 1961 to attend auction school after talking to a local part time auctioneer. James had attended many auctions and was acquainted with the auctioneers in town but all were working in the industry as part timers. There were no full time auctioneers in Hot Springs and James Wilson saw a tremendous opportunity. James enrolled at Fort Smith Auction School and two weeks later went to work making his new profession a full time career.

From the beginning, James was a natural promoter and put all of his energy into his work. He called on local furniture stores and motels to place their extra inventory in his auctions. He went through the newspapers every day checking all of the real estate ads and calling sellers to tell them about his services. During early evening, James would drive his auction truck up and down Albert Pike and Central Avenues, with loud speakers mounted on top of the cab, announcing upcoming auctions.

James was also a stickler for good English, correct spelling and detailed descriptions of what was being sold. He thoroughly went over his ads until he was satisfied with the content. “I wrote my best ads at 5:00 o’clock in the morning”, he recalled. James Wilson was driven by the details in every aspect of the business.

Over the next twenty five years, James Wilson, with the help of his wife, Betty, and children, Diane, Susie and Joe, conducted hundreds of auctions of all types, especially real estate and fine antique auctions, setting world record prices for John Henry Belter furniture. He built a reputation for honesty, integrity and impeccable attention to detail that has spanned three generations of the family business.


By the mid 1980’s the winds of change were stirring in the auction industry. James knew the time was right for his son, Joe, to take the lead and in July of 1986 Joe R. Wilson succeeded his father as president of Wilson Auctioneers, Inc. His father had built the solid foundation but now it was Joe’s responsibility to choose a plan for the future. Joe was completely consumed with his vision of the future of the auction industry. He understood the gradual acceptance of real estate auctions as an opportunity to lead the company in an area of tremendous growth. He was eager to apply extensive new technology to the business while carving a niche out of the traditional real estate market.

Immediately, Joe began to assemble a staff of professionals who could take care of the details as he concentrated on building a reputation for successful real estate auctions. Joe was determined to make the auction method of marketing a first choice, not the last resort. During the late 1990’s Joe Wilson brought the company’s focus exclusively to Real Property.

In early 2003, Joe sat down with his staff to discuss his vision of branding the company as a premier real estate auction company. That was the beginning of an extensive advertising and promotional campaign throughout the state of Arkansas and beyond. Today, Joe is leading a third generation of Wilson family members into the business who are receiving top notch educational opportunities while learning the business. He continues to surround himself with a staff of diverse individuals that allow his visionary style of leadership the ability to seek out new opportunities. “I dearly love this job and can’t imagine doing something else,” says Joe Wilson. But Joe understands the future will always bring change and he is eager to share his vision of Wilson Auctioneers, Inc. in this new millennium.


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