Feedlots struggle sometimes to find employees who can handle working with cattle, rain or shine, and being accountable. When it comes to Jessie Ramirez, head of maintenance and equipment operator at Brookover Feed Yard outside Garden City, Kan., he has been the model example of what feedlots are looking for from their workforce.
Jessie is a jack of all trades in his ability to run almost any piece of equipment and in turn fix nearly any breakdowns that occur. “Whatever I need to do, I do,” Jessie says.
Some of the equipment Jessie runs daily includes high loaders, backhoes, graders and tractors with a scraper.
Jessie’s coworkers describe him as a passionate worker and someone who is tenacious about his job.
“Jessie is dedicated to his job,” says Brian Price, manager of Brookover Feed Yard. “He’s always on call 24 hours a day.”
Price has worked alongside Jessie for more than 20 years in various capacities and in the past 10 years as the manager of the feedlot. “I have probably learned as much from him as he has from me. I’ve been here 22 years, and he had to train me.”
To honor Jessie for his dedication during his 36-year career with Brookover Feed Yard, he was nominated and awarded the 2019 Arturo Armendariz Distinguished Service Award through the Cattle Feeders Hall of Fame.
Jessie was born and raised in El Saucillo, Zacatecas, Mexico. He grew up on his family’s ranch with 13 siblings where he helped raise cattle and sheep. This started him toward a career path in the feedlot industry.
In 1971, Jessie emigrated to the U.S. moving to Garden City. He would later start working for a local construction company helping install water lines while working on heavy machinery during an eight-year period. Some of the equipment he started out on such as a ditch witch, backhoe and loader proved to be foretelling in his road to Brookover.
Jessie began his career at Brookover Feed Yard in August 1983, doing a number of jobs at the start, including processing cattle and running a feed truck. During those early formative years he learned a lot about taking care of cattle and working with people.
“Wherever you work, you need to respect others, respect all the people involved,” Jessie advises. “If you respect people, they’ll respect you.”
During his time at the feedlot there were some changes like having eight different managers before Price stepped into the position. Jessie also split time for a little bit between the main Brookover Feed Yard and the Brookover Ranch Feed Yard.
In spite of some of those challenges, each day Jessie comes to work with smile on his face to help start his morning on a happy note, and it sets a positive example for his coworkers.
When any new people are added to his crew he tries to show them how they need to work. If they don’t know how to run a piece of equipment like a loader he’s willing to take the time to make sure they get a successful start. “I like to have them do it my way. The right way,” Jessie says with a laugh.
Price adds there have been times that people might not have listened to Jessie, but before long they figure out he knew what he was talking about.
“Jessie has good attention to detail about how things are done and the right way to do them,” Price says.
His experience laying water lines before coming to Brookover helped with a big job at the feedyard where Jessie replaced all of the water troughs and laid new lines.
“He’s the only one who knows where the water lines are because he laid them all,” Price says. “If he didn’t lay them he replaced them all. He’s done a lot of that kind of work.”
Because of improvements like the waterlines being replaced, tasks such as chopping ice don’t happen at the same frequency as when Jessie started at Brookover.
“Jessie’s been through lot of the changes in the industry and he just doesn’t know it because we just did stuff every day,” Price says. With an employee like Jessie it has helped Brookover continue to improve.
Jessie has enjoyed his nearly four-decade career at the feedyard because of the quality of people he gets to interact with. “It is a good company to work for and they have treated me good,” Jessie says.
Price thinks he’ll be hard-pressed to find an employee with the same work ethic as Jessie who would have the longevity to work for 36 years. “Jessie has been through the good, the bad and the ugly. He’s always positive, and that impacts myself and the rest of the employees in the yard.”
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Cattle Feeders Hall of Fame
The Cattle Feeders Hall of Fame was launched in 2009 to celebrate the rich traditions of the cattle-feeding industry and recognize individuals who have devoted their careers to producing safe, quality beef and improving production practices. Merck Animal Health, Osborn and Barr, and Drovers are the founding partners. A reception in January was held to formally announce the 2019 inductees: James Herring and Bill Foxley.