Sugar and Spice and Everything Nice
Auction market in Gering under new ownership
The sale barn in Gering, Neb., is open for business and under new owners and management.
Sugar Valley Stockyards held its first sale in April with its official grand opening on August 29.
Del Ray Kraupie and his wife Stacy; Del’s brother Jake and his wife Chelsey, the men’s sister Kristen Kraupie, and Trevor Blomenkamp and his wife Rylee are partners in the business.
Del, an auctioneer, had sold cattle at the sale barn, formerly called the Platte Valley Barn, for several years and when it closed on April 1 of this year, called the man who purchased it, offering to lease or buy it.
After “lots and lots of long night meetings and pushing pencils, we decided to go ahead and buy the place,” Del said.
The team has experience in both the livestock and the auction business.
Blomenkamp grew up on the family cattle operation and farm north of Broadwater and worked on the cattle side of his family’s business. He was an order buyer for himself and others, “in and out of sale barns a lot,” Del said.
Del Ray, Jake and Kristen are third generation auctioneers in the family business, Kraupie’s Real Estate and Auctioneers, alongside their parents Darrell and Alecia Kraupie. Del auctioned at the former Platte Valley Sale barn as well as at Torrington (Wyo.) Livestock and Crawford Livestock.
Each person has his or her own role with the Stockyards.
Kristen is the mastermind behind the technology and office operations. She designed the logo, researched the new computer program the stockyards uses, and takes care of the marketing.
Blomenkamp is the sale manager, Del said. “He keeps track of how the sale will run, what the value of the cattle should be, and he studies the markets. He’s very sharp when it comes to the cattle market, cost of gain, input cost and the break-even cost” for cattle. Blomenkamp spends most of his time in the country, as a sales rep. “He’s got the expertise and has more time available to go out and see the customers,” Del said.
Del and Jake both auctioneer the sales. Jake serves as the crew manager on sale days and plays a big part in the flow of the sale, as ringman, when he is not behind the mic. Del jokes that he’s the “PR guy.” He has a lot of contacts because of previous auction market work. “I have a relationship with some of the buyers and sellers, which has really helped us get on our feet.”
Sugar Valley Stockyards wants to make sure the customer is taken care of. If customers bring in cattle a day early, they are comped for the day’s feed. Early cattle arrivals give stockyards help time to sort cattle. They’ve installed automatic waterers, another way of showing people their cattle will be cared for.
“We’ll look out for your cattle,” Del said. “They’ll be treated the best they can be, while they’re in our hands.”
Customers will be treated the same, no matter the number of head they’re selling, Del said. “It doesn’t matter if you have five head or 500, we’re going to treat you the same way. We emphasize customer service, and we’re proud to sell your brand.”
Their closest competitors are the sale barns in Torrington, thirty-five miles west; Crawford, sixty miles north, Ogallala, 120 miles east, and Sterling, Colo., ninety miles south.
There’s a large geographic area within a close distance of the barn that will benefit from a competitive market.
“There’s a lot of country around Gering,” Del said, “a large area that doesn’t have a sale barn. There’s a lot of cattle out there.”
Sales will be on Mondays, and he hopes after a year in business, Sugar Valley will be selling 35,000 to 40,000 head, with the goal of selling 65-70,000 head in the future. They are affiliated with Western Video Market and use Cattle USA as their bidding platform.
They’ve had strong support, Del said. At their grand opening, they had 300 hamburgers grilled but ran out; the crowd was estimated at 400 people. They also had a branding party, branding boards to be used in the décor of the sale barn. Over 200 brands were brought in to be burned into the blocks.
The new business even followed him and Stacy on vacation. A few weeks ago, they took a short camping trip to the Black Hills. Del struck up a conversation with an older gentleman who happened to walk by, and when he asked, Del told him his hometown was the North Platte Valley and he was part owner of a sale barn there. The man asked, do you own Sugar Valley? He had seen the stockyards’ ads in the paper.
“People I don’t even know will walk up to me, in the most random places, and say, I heard you bought the sale barn,” Del said. “Thank you for doing that. The valley needed it. We couldn’t afford to lose it. We appreciate you sticking your neck out and trying to make a go of it.”
Sugar Valley Stockyards is located at 815 Morrison Road in Gering. The office number is 308.436.2192. Its website is svstockyards.com and its Facebook page is facebook.com/svstockyards
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