For my final blog entry, I’d like to spend a moment looking in the rear view mirror at the past year….but they took my truck away!!!
Before I begin, congratulations once again, to my good friend Charly Cummings. Livestock Marketing Association is in good hands with him behind the wheel of the championship pickup.
Now onto the contest, it really was an incredible event! All 33 of the contestants this year did a tremendous job, but I’m especially proud of Charly, Justin Dodson and Dustin Focht. I was sitting there watching the whole thing like everybody else, and you just never know what the score sheets are going to say, but in my opinion, those three guys really stepped to the plate that week. It sure makes it exciting when everybody’s at the top of their game for contest day!
The banquet was truly a memorable experience for me. My dad, Jayson, addressed the crowd following the video that my mother and Jodie helped to compile (posted below in the blog) and then introduced me to the stage to give my ‘farewell’ address. I had no idea that was going to happen and it really kind of caught me off guard. The culmination of the whole year came together in those few minutes, and I think some of you (namely Kristen and Jeahn) enjoyed seeing me lose a little composure for a few seconds. I had prepared some remarks, but Dad’s speech was a tough act to follow. Prior to the contest last year in Oklahoma City, I had never practiced a championship speech. So last year when they handed me the buckle and ring and shuffled me up to the podium, I had no idea what I was going to say. I had a whole year to prepare for my time at the podium in South Carolina, and there I stood…speechless!
Looking at this year, after all of the awards, flights, sales, interviews and miles, what meant the most to me were the thank you’s I received from the people with LMA and industry members from across the country. I think Matt Lowrey, 2008 World Champion, mentioned something about that very thing in his farewell speech. I am the one who is grateful. I am the one who’s been blessed. I am the one who needs to say Thank YOU, for the opportunity to work with you and work for you over the past year.
I’d be remiss if I didn’t say thank you to my dad, Jayson, and my mom, Debby. She and my wife Jodie were to thank for gathering all the ‘dirt’ on me that Jeahn used for the opening video. My folks are the reason I am who I am, and they are the reason I am an auctioneer. I’m proud of you Mom and Dad!
Jodie was a rock this year. She and the kids saw a lot of me in the front door, out the back and I am looking forward to spending more time with them now. Our son McKay is 3, and his sister Hadlee is 18 months, and if that doesn’t make for a busy household I’m not sure what does! Jodie handled it with so much fortitude. She gave me confidence when I needed it and was so supportive of this whole thing. She’s the unsung hero of the year. Couldn’t have done it without you, babe! Love you to pieces.
Not many people see the efforts behind the WLAC and annual convention, and let me tell you, none of it would happen without the ladies! Kristen, Jeahn, Cathy, and the list goes on. I liked to call Jeahn my “agent” and she really was a big help this year. She was behind all the social media and I only wish I’d have taken the plunge into the world of smart phones when she told me to! Jeahn, thanks for your hard work and friendship. A big thanks also to Kristen. You’re going to be a great mom! I appreciate your diligence and assertiveness. You’re an asset to the industry, no doubt! By the way, Kristen, Kyle makes a great middle name for a boy, so does Ty, Matt, Trent, David, Ron, Dan, Jon…the list goes on for a while.
To all the market owners and auctioneers who invited me to their places of business, a very sincere ‘thank you.’ I think most of us who grow up around this business get a kick out of seeing the pen set up and flow of other sale barns. I enjoyed that almost as much as I enjoyed visiting with producers and locals at each stop. In more ways than one, the year was an education!
Finally, to Livestock Marketing Association…
I gained a great deal of respect for LMA and its employees this year and I wish everybody in the industry realized what kind of work this organization does. I have never seen, nor heard of, a professional trade association that is as industry-minded, financially responsible and willing to listen to its members as LMA. They are committed to being OUR voice and are willing to do whatever it takes to protect and promote the future of agriculture and livestock marking around the world. I’ve seen it from the outside in and the inside out. These people aren’t bean counters! Top to bottom, they are completely immersed in the affairs of the livestock industry- all aspects of it! We have a lot of work to do in the next forty years. As an industry, we can’t afford to stand on different islands and throw rocks at each other. There’s too much at stake.
To the contestants, I hope you know that there are no politics involved in the World Livestock Auctioneer Championship. The WLAC committee is dedicated to ensuring a fair and competitive contest. Remember that the results reflect the opinions of six people on one day. Keep coming back. Keep entering. Keep the drive to get better. That’s what motivates me. The fact that I know I can be better if I only try. Best of luck to all of you, and once again, thank you for your support and confidence in me. It was the ride of a lifetime.