WE’D LIKE TO THANK: Angus breeders honor ringman as Agribusinessman of Year for lending a hand to seedstock industry
February 3, 2015
There's the thrill of the sale and the lifelong friends he continues to make. Those are the two biggest reasons Scott Dirk continues to put on over 45,000 miles every year traveling to bull sales in the region.
Tri-State Livestock News field service and ringman department director Scott Dirk, Vale, South Dakota, said he was surprised to be chosen by the Black Hills Angus Association as their Agri-Business Person of the Year and recognized during their annual banquet held Feb. 1, 2015.
"I try to hide in the back as much as I can and stay the heck out of the way," he joked, regarding the secret to his success.
Dirk, who provides ring service to about 80 production sales per year, said that the people in the livestock industry are "some of the best people in the world."
Dirk said in the 20 some years he's been in the livestock marketing business, the cattle have improved considerably. "There is more uniformity, more consistency, from top to bottom."
Improved performance testing, the introduction of and attention to EPDs and more stringent phenotypic culling have all contributed to the overall improvement of cattle in the region, Scott said.
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"A couple of $400,000 animals at Schaff Angus Valley," were pretty memorable moments in his career, as was a $200,000 stallion at Cowan Brothers sale in Sioux Falls about 15 years ago. The horse was a full brother to the famous barrel racing horse named Bozo.
Horse sales put on by the Meyers family – owners of the stallion Frenchman's Guy – are always memorable, too, Dirk points out.
But the bottom line is that the good sales provide another kind of high.
"It's an adrenaline rush," Dirk said.
"There's nothing more thrilling and exhilarating than to work with a good auctioneer and a good ring crew," he said. "When everyone is on and the bidding is there, it works like a well – oiled machine."
Fellow Tri-State Livestock News ringman and former auctioneer Dan Piroutek "has been extremely supportive and helpful," to him since he joined the newspaper's team in 2009, Dirk said.
Dirk regrets never getting to call bids next to Billings-based auctioneer Pat Goggins but said he is fortunate to have worked with his son Joe Goggins, as well as several other industry greats Craig Conover and Al Conover, both of Iowa, and South Dakota auctioneers Lynn Weishaar and Seth Weishaar, Jim Birdwell and many more. "Some of the best auctioneers in the country are here in the Dakotas," Dirk said.
Humility is not a trait that every livestock ringman possesses, but Dirk is not just any ringman. Purebred cattle auctioneers Craig Conover of Mapleton, Iowa, and Lynn Weishaar of Reva, South Dakota, both remark on his humble demeanor and strong work ethic.
"There were so many of them that thought they knew it all but they weren't the ones with dirt under their fingernails with the grassroots connections," Conover said, regarding new ringmen in Dirk's era. Dirk stood out as a livestock marketer with integrity and without arrogance, and he quickly gained Conover's respect.
Lynn Weishaar agrees.
"He handles the crowd well. Scott comes in low key and common, not cocky. He does as good a job as anybody plus the crowd trusts him. He has a trust element with the customers."
Weishaar knew Dirk as a young man and said he "worked real hard" to achieve his dream. "He's pretty modest. He worked hard and tried hard. He learned the hard way. There weren't other ringmen or newspaper people in his family." But it is Dirk's modesty that sets him apart in the field. "There is no bragging in him. He'll tend to his business," Weishaar said.
Tri-State Livestock News Publisher Bree Poppe appreciates Dirk's willingness to go the distance.
"I am elated to hear about this recognition for Scott, and I just want to thank the South Dakota Angus Association for this great honor for him. Going far beyond what he does for Tri-State Livestock News, his commitment to the cattle industry and its producers in general is evident and admirable. Scott exudes an extremely high level of integrity, sincerity and humility in all that he does, both professionally and personally." The service he provides producers is superior, she said. "We are very proud of Scott here at Tri-State, feeling fortunate he hangs his hat here and leads our livestock marketing endeavors."
Being early to a bull sale is important in his line of work, Dirk said. "The last thing in the world the producer wants to worry about is where his ring help is. He's got a lot more to worry about on sale day." In his twenty years of working sales he recalls being late one time, due to a 15 inch snowfall.
Arriving at the sale two hours early and always looking over the cattle beforehand are two of Dirk's rules of thumb.
He said he appreciates the recognition from the Black Hills Angus Association, although he'd have liked some advance notice to prepare the speech they requested, he considers the entire group as good friends. "It's just a good bunch of people to work with. They've got good cattle and good genetics."
Burning the midnight oil and keeping the highway well-traveled would not be possible without a supportive family and Dirk said his is the best. Wife Shannon, sons Austin (15) and Chase (11) and daughter Shaley (11) have given him fantastic support, and now that the kids are growing older, they are able to help keep things in order at home, he said.
Dirk grew up on a small acreage outside of Lemmon, South Dakota, with 7 brothers and sisters.
"Like every other country boy, I wanted to be a rancher someday," he remembers. "Beyond that I guess I just wanted to make a successful living and keep my bills paid."
He attended Sturgis Vo-Tech, graduating with an Ag Production and Management degree in 1986, then spent a year in Australia working at one of the country's largest cattle feedlots, then at a horse training facility, where he helped keep the horses in shape. The facility was home to the only living son of Leo. "It was a pretty ritzy place," he recalls.
Upon his return home, Dirk worked as a ranch hand for Paul Huffman who now owns Lemmon Livestock. He processed calves and rode on over 8,000 yearlings.
From there he went to work for the "Green Sheet" based in Aberdeen, then to the Western Livestock Reporter, now the Western Ag Reporter, out of Billings, then the Sioux Falls-based Tri-State Neighbor and in 2009 he accepted an offer to work for Tri-State Livestock News.