Cattlemen sitting around salebarns in Philip, Faith, and Belle Fourche, SD the last 35 years recognize one familiar face - Dan Piroutek. A cattleman and auctioneer, Piroutek's passion for the livestock industry runs deep, and his commitment and dedication have earned him the prestigious 2012 Black Hills Stock Show (BHSS) Agri-Business Person of the Year award. Piroutek will accept the award on Feb. 1, 2012 at the BHSS Banquet & Ball.
With a lifetime of cattle experience under his belt, selling and marketing cattle is second-nature for Piroutek. He grew up near Milesville, SD, where his grandfather, Henry Kertzman, settled in the early 1900s. The ranch is still intact today, and with the partnership of his wife, Gayla, and nephew, Mike and Faye Piroutek family, he maintains a 375-head cattle herd. For 20 years, hogs and sheep were also a part of the operation, when Dan's late-brother Lee, was a part of the partnership.
Piroutek headed east to attend South Dakota State University (SDSU) where he competed on the livestock judging team and graduated in 1976 with an animal science degree. He met Gayla at SDSU, and the pair were married in 1977. That same year, Piroutek and friend Greg Arendt, hopped in a VW Rabbit and made the drive to Decatur, IL, to attend Superior School of Auctioneering.
Opportunity was quick to knock for the new graduate. Jerry Roseth, then owner of Philip Livestock Auction Market, offered Piroutek a chance to auctioneer at a hog sale. That first sale helped Roseth and Piroutek grow the auction barn into one of the largest hog markets in South Dakota. The next 35 years, Piroutek marketed cattle at salebarns and seedstock sales in six different states. He continues to be involved with the Philip Livestock Auction on a weekly basis.
Piroutek is also a familiar face among the crew at the Tri-State Livestock News (TSLN), where he is an advertising consultant for cattlemen, working the ring and writing sale reports from production sales. He also maintains his own business, Piroutek Auction Service, with partner Lonnie Arneson. The duo auctioneer real estate, household, antiques, farm and ranch machinery. Learn more about their business at www.piroutekauction.com.
Arneson is proud of his partner and reflects on their partnership, their careers and the BHSS award.
"Dan is one of the best guys I have ever worked with," says Arneson. "His ability to think under pressure is his best attribute. I think Dan is very deserving of this honor. In fact, I can't think of anyone better. He has given a lot to the community and is definitely an outstanding agribusiness man.
"When it comes to marketing, he is active in selling livestock through bull sales and the auction barn. He works hard for the livestock sellers and makes sure they get a fair deal."
Of his award, Piroutek says it was a surprise to hear the news.
"I was very surprised to receive this award; I'm very humbled by the honor," he says. "The biggest thing for me is that I have had a chance to auctioneer and meet friends. The people I work for and have worked with over my career, they mean the most to me. If I had to stay home and work all the time, I wouldn't have had a chance to meet people."
Piroutek's network is a long list of close friends and colleagues ranging from cattle and horse producers, to fellow auctioneers, salebarn managers, ringmen and publication representatives. It's these friendships that have helped him have a long-lasting, successful career in the business.
"The highlights of my career are the people I have met and the friendships made," Piroutek adds. "This is what is truly important in life - their kids, their farms, their stories. Most of the sales that I have been a part of have come from friendships. I really love auctioneering."
Bob Anderson is one of those people Piroutek calls a friend. Anderson is a cattle fieldman for salebarns and lives in Sturgis, SD.
"Dan is a great friend and colleague," Anderson says. "He is a go-getter. He is involved in so many things and is incredibly knowledgeable in so many areas. He is very dedicated to his people, his customers and the agriculture industry. He does his best in all his dealings, and he is a very sincere individual. He is definitely deserving of this award; I'm proud to know him and have him as a friend."
Those who have attended BHSS may also recognize Piroutek. He has auctioneered the commercial heifer sale, helping promote heifers entered in the show and soliciting buyers to attend the sale. He has also worked as a ringman at BHSS cattle and horse sales. Piroutek is a member of the BHSS Foundation.
Other awards and achievements Piroutek has been recognized for include: Outstanding Service to the FFA; 1997 Outstanding Angus Promoter; and 2006 Haakon County Friend to 4-H. His love of agriculture is evident, and he offered his take on the state of the industry.
"Being involved in agriculture is ever-evolving," Piroutek says. "It's obvious that not everybody who has the desire to be in production agriculture (can be), as the opportunity isn't always there. It's gotten smaller over the years. There will be a record number of cattle sold in Philip this year, but with far fewer consignors."
Of course a successful career would mean nothing without a strong support system. Piroutek is a family man, and together with Gayla, raised two daughters who have been incredibly successful in their own pursuits.
Oldest daughter, Erin, and husband, Tim Logan, live in St. Louis, MO, with their son, Daniel. Erin is a physical therapist, owning two physical therapy clinics and teaching physical therapy lab classes at Washington University. Tim is a senior business reporter for the St. Louis Post-Dispatch newspaper. Second daughter, Amy and husband Joe Hogue, live in Muskegon, MI, with their son, Jacob. Amy is a family practice medical doctor, and Joe is a certified public accountant, and is presently attending Cooley Law School. Both daughters attended Notre Dame, and the Piroutek family are huge Irish fans.
"Education is so important, and I always told my girls that school would get them places," says Piroutek. "Never stop learning and growing. Always strive to be your best."
Piroutek's lifelong career in agriculture, his deep roots in the livestock industry and his love of family, his cattle business and auctioneering make him the ideal recipient for the 2012 BHSS Agri-Business Person of the year award. TSLN congratulates Piroutek on this achievement.