On a blustery winter day right after this year’s Christmas blizzard, The Cattle Business Weekly caught up with this year’s Black Hills Stock Show Agri-Business Person of the Year Bob Anderson. He had just spent the last few days digging out from the storm and was ready to escape the wind and visit.
Anderson reflected back on his start in the cattle business – which dates back to a place east of Vale, S.D. where he ran cattle for 37 years – but it was the newspaper business that really immersed him in the industry.
His longtime career as a fieldman first began with the Tri-State Livestock News working bull sales. It was there Anderson grew a network of purebred and commercial cattle producers alike. “I made friendships that money can’t buy,” Anderson says.
He later went to work for the Belle Fourche Livestock Exchange also as a fieldman – commissioning cattle from far and wide to the western South Dakota cattle trading hub.
At age 65 he entertained retiring. “I wanted to do things, travel, see places and then young Thor Roseth of Philip Livestock Auction got ahold of me and offered me a job. I told him no, I had things I wanted to do and he told me, ‘Go do it. We’ll work around you.’ So I did and then he bought the Belle Fourche barn and it was like old home week there for me that first sale,” recalls Anderson.
Today Anderson is a fieldman for both Philip and Belle Fourche auction barns. He is kept busy in the fall of the year with sales on 4-5 days every week.
“You have to be motivated in this business. I have customers at each sale and they depend on you to help present cattle in the best fashion,” Anderson says.
He says the yard and sale day crews at both sale barns need to be recognized for their efforts in how the cattle come through the ring and are presented. Anderson notes cattle travel quite a distance to get to the sale and often arrive 2 to 3 days ahead of time. It is up to the sale barn staff to keep those cattle in the best care. “And boy they do,” Anderson says. “The people that I work with are some of the best.”
Anderson also relies on his wife, MaryLin, who travels with him extensively. He notes she helps drive, fields phone calls and is just an all-around support system for him. “Driving home from a sale I’ll be on one phone and she will be on the other. She can handle about anything and does it all the time,” he says.
Lifetime of Cattle
Anderson has seen the fads of the cattle industry. He has also seen the concrete changes that have occurred like many in his generation. From cattle weights to technology Anderson has seen performance progress.
“I think that is what impresses me about the young guys taking over operations today. They have all these tools to use – more than we did back then – and they are using them to their advantage,” he says.
There are some operations that have been his customers for three generations now. He says he has kept clients because of the relationships he has built with them, but also because the partners he has in the cattle business. He notes he has had some real good partners over the years and still does. Auctioneers, auction barn staff, and fellow fieldmen have helped make his job easier. “Service to customers is the big thing. If you take care of them they will take care of you,” Anderson says.
When Anderson learned he was to be honored as the Black Hills Stock Show Agri-business Person of the Year he asked the Central States Fair staff, “Why me?” and they answered back, “Why not?”
Anderson isn’t new to the Black Hills Stock Show (BHSS). He became involved with it as a judge for the bull pen show back when it was still held in the Soule building on the Pennington County Fairgrounds. Later, he worked the sale rings as a fieldmen and was a large help in establishing the commercial heifer show and sale, which still exists today.
“I have spent a lot of time with BHSS events over the years and seen a lot of changes, but all for the better. I have all the pride in the world for the stock show foundation, that I am member of, and that helps give scholarships to youth,” says Anderson.
Of the honor, Anderson says it feels good to be recognized and included with a great selection of others being honored this year.
Anderson will be recognized at the Black Hills Stock Show Stockman’s Banquet & Ball Jan. 28 at the Best Western Ramkota in Rapid City, S.D. Also being honored will be Bob Mills as BHSS Hall of Fame honoree and David Lindblom as Stockman of the Year.