Collin Gibbs top rookie at World Livestock Auctioneer Regional in Crawford
For being in only one other much smaller competition, Collin Gibbs’ Rookie was able to capture the top rookie award at the World Livestock Auctioneer Championship (WLAC) Western Regional hosted Oct. 11 at Crawford Livestock Market in the northwestern corner of Nebraska. The Miles City, Montana, auctioneer may be the highest-scoring rookie, but he’ll need to compete again in hopes of qualifying to compete at Livestock Marketing Association’s WLAC in Tennessee next summer.
Ten men qualified for WLAC at last weekend’s competition: champion Chuck Bradley, Rockford, Alabama; reserve champion: Steve Goedert, Dillon, Montana; runner-up champion: Will Epperly, Dunlap, Iowa; and Zach Ballard, Mitchell, South Dakota; Neil Bouray, Webber, Kansas; Eric Drees, Caldwell, Idaho; Kyle Layman, North Platte, Nebraska; Lander Nicodemus, Cheyenne, Wyoming; Sixto Paiz, Portales, New Mexico; and Dustin Smith, Jay, Oklahoma.
Gibbs is considering traveling to Yankton, South Dakota, in the beginning of 2020 to compete once more. He’ll work on remedying his nerves, he said, which greatly affected his breathing during competition.
“I have one under my belt now,” he said. “I had a pretty big case of nerves. It sinks in that you’re at that big of a contest; it’s hard to be yourself when selling or chanting. That’s your personality coming out of your mouth.”
A 2014 graduate of the Western College of Auctioneering, Gibbs has worked his way up from a field man at Miles City Livestock Commission to selling weigh-ups at the end of sales, before progressing to selling feeder cattle. Now, he starts his week at Miles City Livestock Commission, before grabbing a bag of clothes from home and heading to Lemmon Livestock Inc. for two days to sell feeder cattle one day and weigh-ups the other, then occasionally auctioneering at other sales barns like St. Onge Livestock.
On his “off” days, in which he isn’t chanting, calling, and selling at a sale barn, he operates a feed business, Gibbs Livestock Services LLC, delivering feed to customers. If he isn’t delivering feed, he might be selling purebred cattle, or auctioneering farm equipment through Gibbs Auction, a farm sale auction business in which he partners with his cousin.
“In the fall, my wife likes to refer to it as the time she’s a single mother,” Gibbs said. “I like the speed of it. I get to work with producers and buyers, turning beef into cash. It beats the heck out of working in a feedlot. It’s a lot nicer to plug my microphone in and sell cattle than slog down alleys.”
Gibb’s wife Kim is a professor of agriculture and coaches the range team at Miles Community College, and they are parents to daughters, Morgan, 5, and Teagan, 3.
Miles City is the perfect hub for his many irons; Lemmon is a mere 185 miles away, and St. Onge is 180 miles, and highways snake out of Miles City in any direction, making feed deliveries simple.
Thirty-three auctioneers traveled to a considerable-sized sale barn nestled at the north end of Crawford, a town of about 950 residents, to be judged on several criteria while selling eight drafts of animals. Gibbs had a draft of frozen-eared calves to begin with, a yearling with a big knee, a cow, a group of nice five-weight heifers, and six-weight steers.
“A lump and a bump, a cripple, and good cattle,” Gibbs said in his quick auctioneer style. “Selling cattle is no different than any other day of regular work. You try to get as much value for what’s in front of you.”
This was, in fact, one of the criteria, as well as presentation, voice quality and clarity, product knowledge, and whether the judges would hire the auctioneer, Gibbs said.
“There is a different mindset when something has a blemish and you have to know what’s its worth,” Gibbs said. “During the competition, though, the judges would set a starting amount, usually $10 to $15 per hundred under value to give us a chance to showcase our chant.”
As an auctioneer, Gibbs makes note of said lumps and bumps, while explaining the animal’s better qualities as well.
“The people buying are professionals, and they know what they’re worth,” Gibbs said. “I just have to be the guy to referee the bidding process and let the bidding process decide value.”
The competition was during Crawford Livestock Market owners Jack and Laurel Hunter’s 40th anniversary calf sale at the Crawford location, in which they sold just under 5,000 head.
“We’re a big sale barn in a small town in the middle of no man’s land,” said owner and Jack and Laurel’s daughter Alicia Robertson. “We were ready for them because of the numbers we have and the facility we have. When they came, it was run exactly like any other sale. The only difference was there were 33 auctioneers, five judges, and LMA staff.”
Robertson said they were honored privileged to be chosen to host the competition.
“That deal was awesome,” Jack said. “There was a super set of auctioneers.”