1963-2013 Still going Strong
Half a century after its beginnings in St. Onge, S.D., the region’s premier ag publication continues to look forward. Tri-State Livestock News remains connected to our roots and focused on the issues that matter.
Tri-State has become “what ranchers read” because we make it our business to listen to producers and auction barns throughout the region. Your successes become our successes and we can’t thank you enough for giving us news and market information to share.
The ranchers, feeders, auction barns and other small businesses that comprise the cattle industry not only feed the world, they are the lifeblood of the communities that make this great nation what it is. You make deals on handshakes and you stick to them. No matter the consequences. You build generations of families that know an honest day’s work. When you discover a problem, you create a solution, some way, somehow. Neighbors are crucial in this endeavor. Your livestock is not only your annual source of income but your daily source of pride, frustration, humor, education, creativity, beauty, challenge and fascination. You do what you love, and your hope is to be given the opportunity to do it again tomorrow.
The fact that you have allowed Tri-State Livestock News to be a part of this ride, for the last 50 years, is an honor and a privilege. We hope for nothing more than to be a good neighbor, continuing to provide the news and information you need to run a successful business. We understand that you seek out the weekly market reports to compare crucial market data in the paper each week… so do we.
According to Tri-State Livestock News’ founder Morris Hallock, the paper was built on the premise of delivering timely market news to regional cattle producers. Black Hills, S.D., auction barns in St. Onge, Sturgis and Belle Fourche were the first to see the value of sharing their current market reports via the weekly publication but at one point over 40 barns were advertising regularly, Hallock said. The Sturgis, S.D., man even credits Jim Madden, of then-named Madden’s Livestock Auction in St. Onge, with the creation of the paper.
Hallock, who vividly recalls taking part in the “birth” of Philip Livestock Auction believes that auction barns often serve as the lifeblood of a community. “The Sturgis auction barn ran 60 years uninterrupted. They should have never torn it down,” he commented. Hallock laments the “for sale” sign now stuck by the driveway.
Field representative Dan Piroutek talks daily with producers who count on the information provided in updated market reports from the region’s auction barns. “That’s the substance of Tri-State. The more auction barns we have reporting, the more accurate the overall market is,” Piroutek said, citing order buyers and feeders from across the country who decide what to pay for cattle based on Tri-State Livestock News’ market reports.
Everybody, ag producer or not, is concerned about their bank account, Piroutek points out. “Income is one of the four or five highest priorities in our working lives. Tri-State Livestock News provides the information producers need to increase their income.” One way is through up-to-date market information.
Auction barns are a good neighbor, too, he explained. “Auction barns have a big economic impact on the community,” he said. Implement dealers, feed stores and even fuel stations in town note the economic benefit of “sale day,” often times arranging their schedules or “specials” around the town’s busiest day, Piroutek noted.
Fort Pierre Livestock’s Dennis Hanson also mentioned Philip Livestock’s 1949 beginnings. Leif Hanson, Dennis’s father, was the barn’s founder. “Dad sold Philip in 1953 and bought Fort Pierre. We had a fire in December of ’78. At that time, I took over. After the fire, we had our first sale November 2, 1979.”
Hanson said that his father, Leif “knew Hallock well,” adding that “a lot of salebarns advertise with Tri-State. If they didn’t do a good job they wouldn’t have those advertisers.” Hanson added that the relationship between his barn and the paper has been a two-way street. “We’ve done them a lot of good and vice versa,” he said.
Tom Anderberg with Mobridge Livestock said he’s advertised with the paper since he bought the barn 12 years ago and has appreciated the relationship throughout that time.
The manager of St. Onge Livestock, Justin Tupper, said, of the paper, “their customers are our customers and that’s who we want to reach. It’s the paper that reaches the people we do business with. That’s why we value it so much.”
Martin Livestock was started by current owner, Brad Otte’s grandfather-in-law, William I. Porch, in 1954. “No doubt they’ve used the product since the early ’80s,” he said. “We’ve always had a really good relationship with them,” he said and adds that the paper is effective in promoting the whole livestock industry and of “taking care of our business.”
Crawford, Neb., auction barn owner Jack Hunter has done business with the paper since 1980 and has maintained a good relationship through the years. “The Tri-State is a class act. We’ve been able to reach our constituents very well through the paper,” said Hunter. His business is the lifeblood of the community, no different than any other barn in the Nebraska panhandle, he said.
J.R. Scott with Herried Livestock, Herried, S.D., believes the paper helps them reach potential buyers across the region. “We run a lot of ads for bred cow sales because the Tri-State Livestock News gets out there and touches a lot of people with their coverage.” Scott commented that the paper serves the community well through sponsorship of important industry activities, donations and news current news coverage.
In Gordon, Neb., Gordon Livestock Auction Market sets out copies of the paper each Monday, and by day’s end, other papers remain but the Tri-State Livestock News issues are gone. “If we don’t get the Tri-State Livestock News for some reason, people come looking for it. That doesn’t happen with the other papers we get delivered here,” Dick Minor explained.
“I think more people read the Tri-State than any other paper we advertise in,” he added, saying that it connects him with a lot of buyers and consignors and he appreciates the level of professionalism and friendliness of the staff he deals with.
In Miles City, Mont., Rob Fraser of Miles City Livestock Commission said he likes the paper and believes there is strong readership in southeastern Montana. “We might get more buyers than sellers out of our advertising because of our location. We appreciate the paper,” he said.
Scott Vance who operates Faith Livestock Commission Company with his father Gary, in Faith, S.D., said the paper has “stepped up to the times” by utilizing internet and other current marketing strategies. One of his first duties when he “came back” to join his dad in the business was to read the market report over the phone to the office, where it would be typed up for the paper each week. “That was before fax machines. Then we bumped up to faxes and I remember the office staff being tickled that they had that new technology. Now they can pull the report off our website, they can e-mail me proofs and I can check them on my phone.
“It is safe to say that 60 to 70 percent of the folks that call us to consign cattle, ask about buying cattle or just to ask questions say that they read and study our market report in the Tri-State.”
Gary Vance said the paper and its network of readers has done the livestock industry “a tremendous amount of good as far as maintaining a market that is quoted and read by people all over this country. It is a tremendous tool for the auction barns.”
Vance believes that the uncontested quality of the Northern Plains cattle have gained fame thanks in great part to Tri-State Livestock News. “It has made their livestock more well known whether they sold through St. Onge, Faith, Fort Pierre or anywhere else. The world can see what we have to offer and it is a good product.”
A truly competitive market will not be possible or reportable without the bidding and physical inspection of cattle that auction markets provide, Vance said. “We’ve got the best cattle in the country, maybe the world right here in this region. You can’t quote them or put them in the same level as cattle from the south or Mexican cattle or anything else.”
The marketing tool to help determine what producers’ livestock is worth will be successful for the foreseeable future, Vance said. “Competition makes every business better,” Vance points out, saying that he and his family plan to remain in the auction business for “a long time.”
Greg Arendt who has operated Valentine Livestock Auction Company for more than 20 years speaks passionately about his consignors who sell top-notch calves and are “working hard for every dollar they get.”
Arendt also appreciates the “great many” livestock auction reports published weekly, and the broad readership the paper enjoys. “It serves the public with a fair and accurate picture of the market,” he said. Wally Thiel, on staff with Tri-State Livestock News (30-plus years ago) was memorable for his “dogged persistence” in making sure ranchers got the Tri-State and ensuring that every barn in the region shared their market report in the paper, Arendt recalls fondly. “That persistence is what makes or breaks a business,” he commented, adding that Thiel was a “true champion,” carrying the torch for the cattle industry.
In the north country, Paul Huffman of Lemmon Livestock believes the paper showcases the region’s world-class cattle. “It shows what a good product South Dakota and surrounding areas have as far as beef cattle. You can look in that paper once a week and there will be the highest prices paid in the South Dakota barns of any market report across the country, most times. The prices really shine,” which is a true reflection of area producers’ devotion to good cattle, Huffman said.
The paper is a great tool for connecting livestock producers and auction barns, he said. Huffman also appreciates the congenial relationship between the staff and his barn, as well as the quality of the paper. “I think it’s the number-one way for my barn to get consignors or buyers. It’s the best source I have.”
Huffman said the papers he sets out in the lobby are always gone by the end of the sale day, and that the first thing the readers are looking for is “who sold the highest five-weight calves or the highest yearlings.” Huffman said it even keeps him and the other market operators on their toes, knowing that their weekly market report will be scrutinized by ag folks across the Midwest.
“Pounds is what puts money in the bank,” said Hoffman, who works to ensure cattle go through his ring with minimal shrink.
Representing Belle Fourche Livestock Auction as well as Philip Livestock Auction, Thor Roseth said he also recalls stories of the Philip barn’s first days under the ownership of Leif Hanson. “All of those stories are great. He was quite a guy,” Roseth said. In the meantime, several different owners have been at the helm, including most recently Roseth’s cousin Jerry Roseth.
“The relationship between the western South Dakota barns and the Tri-State has to be strong. The paper covers both our buyers and sellers,” he said, noting that they find success particularly in advertising females or pairs that often stay in the region.
Roseth speaks highly of the ring men, saying the paper’s representatives are “very professional and understand the needs of independent cattle producers both through our market reports and advertising of upcoming sales. Those guys have effective knowledge of salebarns and they understand that consigners need to know the market accurately.” F
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Outtagrass Cattle Co. cartoon by Jan Swan Wood for the Oct. 23, 2021, edition of Tri-State Livestock News