Feeding cattle is a challenging job. There are everchanging grain prices, shifting consumer demand, dynamic input costs, a fluctuating cattle market, in addition to all the other typical business responsibilities. Handling all of those variables – while continually producing the most wholesome, safe and affordable beef in the world – takes a special kind of individual – the kind recognized annually since 2009 by the Cattle Feeders Hall of Fame.
This year’s peer-selected inductees are no exception – they’re considered pioneers in the industry and have achieved extraordinary success. On July 12, more than 400 members of the beef industry gathered in Denver, Colorado, to honor these four individuals.
Robert G. “Bob” Gottsch – founder of Gottsch Cattle Company – and Paul J. Brown – founder of Cattle Empire – were inducted into the Cattle Feeders Hall of Fame, which recognizes two leaders annually who have made lasting contributions to the cattle-feeding industry. Randy Blach – CattleFax executive vice president and chief executive officer – was presented with the Industry Leadership Award, recognizing individuals who have demonstrated outstanding leadership, provided exemplary service and made significant contributions to the cattle-feeding business. Jim Allen – feedyard manager at Garden City Feed Yard – received the Arturo Armendariz Distinguished Service Award, given to exceptional feedyard employees.
In his acceptance speech, Brown humbly said “I don’t feel like I’ve done anything outstanding to deserve this award, but I do appreciate it. I always tried to work hard, be honest and live by my word.” He added, “Treat others as you want to be treated – I appreciate being in an industry where that is recognized.”
Brett Gottsch accepted the award on behalf of his father, Bob Gottsch, who passed away in 2002. Gottsch rekindled memories of a hardworking father who served as a mentor to him and his brothers, as well as many others. “There were times I found him in his office at three in the morning in his shorts, selling cattle,” he said. “I always had to laugh out of sympathy for the person on the other end of the phone — because that probably isn’t what they thought they’d be doing at that time of night.”
Blach, who has dedicated many hours to supporting the feedyard industry – including several years of emceeing the annual Hall of Fame banquet – acknowledged the many people who have contributed to his success throughout his career. “This isn’t about an individual. This is about the team. The team at CattleFax and the team of amazing people who have served as mentors and teachers for me throughout the years,” he said. “That’s a challenge I make to you young people out there — find a mentor — someone whom you respect and can help guide you.”
The running theme throughout the evening seemed to be the recognition of the contribution of others – and when Jim Allen accepted his award, it was no different. “I’m truly thankful for this recognition. I just went to work each day and did my job, did what I enjoyed. I didn’t expect it would be anything worthy of recognition. That’s what all of us at the feedyard do and I’ll accept this on their behalf.”
Besides recognizing the honorees, guests were motivated by keynote speaker Dick Hoyt, one half of the inspiring Team Hoyt racing duo. Hoyt shared his story of perseverance and how his son moved him to do things he thought he never could. This amazing story – of a man and his son inspiring people from all walks of life – brought tears to many eyes in the crowd.
About the 2016 Cattle Feeders Hall of Fame Honorees
Robert G. “Bob” Gottsch, 2016 Hall of Fame Inductee
Gottsch Cattle Company – Elkhorn, Nebraska
Bob Gottsch grew up on farms in eastern Nebraska during the Great Depression. After high school, he served in the U.S. military police in Germany. When he returned from World War II, Bob tried college, but didn’t like it – he wanted to be working. Bob and his brother hauled corn and cattle and delivered fuel around Elkhorn for a few years, then started feeding cattle on a leased lot. Bob fed other people’s cattle until he could afford his own. Bob expanded his Elkhorn feedlot through the years and added a location in Red Cloud, Nebraska, where he eventually had 42,000 head. He partnered with Ken Morrison in the 40,000-head Juniata (Nebraska) Feedyard and added a Kansas feedyard that exceeded 50,000 head. Bob Gottsch died in 2002. His sons have continued to build the business.
Paul J. Brown, 2016 Hall of Fame Inductee
Cattle Empire – Satanta, KS
Paul Brown was drawn to western Kansas by the allure of good soil and the potential for irrigation. He started running cattle in 1961 to counteract the cyclical nature of farming. It was the start of a career that would allow Paul to make a name for himself as an honest, hardworking cattleman in southwest Kansas. In 1978, Paul transitioned the farming operation to his eldest son so he could focus on his newly purchased 4,000-head custom feedyard, Cattle Empire. Today, Cattle Empire has a one-time capacity of 245,500 head in five facilities, is the fifth largest feeding operation in the country, and is still family owned and operated. Paul and his wife, Evelyn have four children, nine grandchildren and eight great-grandchildren.
Randy Blach, 2016 Industry Leadership Award Recipient
CattleFax – Denver, Colorado
Randy Blach was raised on his family’s ranch in Yuma, Colorado. He graduated from Colorado State University (CSU) in 1980 with a degree in animal science. In 2001, Randy became CEO of CattleFax, a company he started with in 1981. Throughout his career, Randy has spoken at hundreds of cattle and beef industry meetings, seminars and conventions. Randy volunteers countless hours for numerous organizations and enjoys “giving back.” He is a co-founder of the CSU Beef Club, a group that supports scholarships in the College of Agriculture and special projects in the Athletics Department. The group has raised nearly $750,000 for these causes since its inception. Randy and his family remain actively involved in cattle ranching with cow/calf, stocker and finished cattle.
Jim Allen, 2016 Arturo Armendariz Distinguished Service Award Recipient
Garden City Feed Yard / Division of AzTx Cattle Company – Garden City, Kansas
Jim Allen has dedicated more than 45 years to the cattle industry. He has served numerous roles, but is best known for his dedication to the art of feeding cattle. After graduating from Kansas State University in 1970, he began his extensive career in the cattle industry with a stint at A.I.D. feedyard in Ulysses, Kansas. In 1975, Jim relocated to Garden City, Kansas where he spent the next 40 years feeding cattle. He weathered multiple owners, witnessed the feedyard grow from 30,000 to 90,000 head, and transitioned from feeding beef cattle to feeding dairy cattle. In 2015, after exporting more than 70,000 head of cattle to Russia over the course of several years, he was finally able to travel there as a feedyard consultant.
About the Cattle Feeders Hall of Fame
The Cattle Feeders Hall of Fame was established in 2009 to recognize and honor outstanding men and women in the cattle-feeding community. Additional information about the Cattle Feeders Hall of Fame and the honorees can be found at www.facebook.com/cattlefeeders and www.cattlefeeders.org. Founding partners of the Hall of Fame include Merck Animal Health, Drovers/CattleNetwork and Osborn Barr. Contributing banquet sponsors for 2016 included: American Angus Association, CattleFax, Creekstone Farms®, DVAuction, Greeley Hat Works, Monson Family/Goose Ridge Estate Vineyards and Winery, MSBiotec, Phibro Animal Health and Zoetis.