Last week I visited Montana for the first time ever and I do not think there are words to describe my experience and feelings about my trip, but I am going to try my best to convey to you the AMAZING time I had.
To start with, I was in Billings, Montana and WOW I have never seen anything like it. For those of you who have never flown into Billings you need to know that the airport is situated on top of the Rimrocks overlooking Yellowstone Valley and the city of Billings from the airport you have the most spectacular view. Once I landed and began the trip into the valley, Montana did nothing but impress. From the people, to the scenery and the food, it has now landed on the list of places I would consider moving to if I ever left Kansas. Hopefully when I make my next trip up there my wife Carrie can come and she will be just as impressed as I was. I cannot wait to go back and I think everyone should visit Montana at least once!
Now that I have you excited about visiting Montana let’s get down to business and I will tell you about going to work for Mr. Pat Goggins and Northern Livestock Video at Public Auction Yards (PAYS).
Anyone who has been around the livestock marketing industry for very long knows about Mr. Goggins, his family ‘empire’. He is a remarkable man who has done so much for the industry and it was a great honor to work for him last week. I was up there for one of Northern’s special video sales. The sale itself is hosted at PAYS in Billings, Montana. The sale is comprised of lots of cattle sold solely by video. Northern representatives shoot and edit a video of the consigned cattle and then promote these lots to buyers in the area and online. Bids are taken from the phone, the internet and the seats. This particular sale was three days long and they sold about 360,000 head of cattle. It is an event in itself to attend and even more exciting to be on the block.
I arrived on Monday and watched with wide eyes as 2009 WLAC Ty Thompson and Bill Cook sold lot after lot of good looking northern cattle to buyers everywhere. Monday night, there was a customer appreciation reception at the Vermillion Ranch. They served about 550 people ribeye and KC strip steaks and it was delicious.
Tuesday I got my chance to sell and had the opportunity to work for about three hours. The seats were full and there were people online and man was I nervous! I have never sold cattle through the internet, let alone combining that with bids from the seats. My greatest fear was that I was not going to be able to properly represent the cattle and that the pace of the sale would be a problem. Once things got started and I was settled it all just kept on rolling and I began to feel comfortable with the technology. Add to the list of firsts selling cattle to buyers on the internet! At one point I had my only three bidders all online. That was tough because I had to be sure to distinguish who was in the lead without giving away the full identity of the buyer. This was a major first to add to my list and I hope to eventually open SEK Stockyards up to online bidding in the future. (We will be LIVE on LMAAuctions.com starting next Friday.)
One of my favorite moments during the sale was when Ty Thompson was just getting started for the day and was on his second lot, he was having a little trouble getting going and Mr. Goggins flagged him down and said, ‘Young man, this is not for practice, this is for real.’ I had a laugh at Ty’s expense, because it is not too often you see a professional get scolded at work. Ty took it in stride and snapped back into business. He is top class and someone to be admired. I had supper with him and his family at Rex’s in Billings one night, and I was so amazed at how busy and hard working they are. Talking and being around him you would never know how much he has on his plate. He truly is one of the best in the business and role model for all.
I could go on and on about Montana today, but I need to prepare for my trip to Dunlap, Iowa where I will be hosted by the Schaben Family. I will sell at the Four County Fair tomorrow and at Dunlap Livestock Auction for their feeder cattle special Friday. Who knows, maybe I will add Iowa to my list of potential retirement states. All I do know, is I am having a great time and seeing the country and working for such great people is a dream come true.
Note: If you ever have any questions about my trips, new experiences (like selling cattle online) or auctioneering please do not hesitate to ask. If I cannot properly answer your question I will do my very best to refer you to someone who can.