—Livestock Marketing Association
Dustin Focht of Stillwater, Okla., proved his world-class talent as a livestock auctioneer at the 50th anniversary of the Livestock Marketing Association’s (LMA) World Livestock Auctioneer Championship (WLAC) held in Montgomery, Ala., on Saturday, June 15.
A late comer to the livestock auctioneering profession, Focht, 43, whose grandfather was a livestock auctioneer, didn’t begin selling until 13 years ago. He credits fellow Oklahoma auctioneers Ralph Wade and Greg Griffith with helping to form him into the world champion auctioneer he is today.
"I had never sold anything or had a chant before I met Ralph. He took a complete beginner and in two days taught me the basics and put me in the block at Oklahoma National Stockyards," Focht explains. "Greg taught me all the values that exemplify an auctioneer: professionalism, integrity, honesty and value."
Focht says patience, preparation and the experience of 11 previous WLAC contests gave him the confidence and ability to win this year’s contest. Focht, who also won for high score in the interview contest, says during the contest he worked on relaxing, being professional and doing the best auctioneering job he could with the tough competition he faced.
In his acceptance speech, Focht thanked the Livestock Marketing Association and its staff for the dedicated support they provide the livestock auction markets across the country. "I know I have big shoes to fill, but I can’t wait to travel across the country visiting markets and talking about all the good things the organization and auction markets do for the industry."
Focht was sponsored by Cherokee Sales Co., LLC, Cherokee, Okla.; Woodward Livestock Auction, Inc., Woodward, Okla.; and Anthony Livestock Sales Co., Anthony, Kan.
This year’s champion takes home a customized 2013 Ford F-150 pickup to use during the year of his reign; $5,000 cash; a championship sculpture; world champion Gist belt buckle and a hand-tooled leather briefcase from LMA; world champion ring sponsored by Montgomery Stockyards; the Golden Gavel Award sponsored by the World Wide College of Auctioneering; and a James Reid, Ltd. money clip sponsored by CattleUSA.com.
Also, making a great showing were the Reserve Champion Brian Little, Wann, Okla., and Runner-up Champion Blaine Lotz, Edna, Kan. Little was sponsored by Coffeyville, Livestock Market, LLC, Coffeyville, Kan. As reserve champion, Little received $2,000 cash, a Gist knife and reserve champion Gist belt buckle from LMA.
Lotz was sponsored by South Coffeyville Stockyards, Inc., South Coffeyville, Okla.; Fredonia Livestock Auction, Fredonia, Kan.; and Tulsa Stockyards, Inc., Tulsa, Okla. He will take home $1,000 cash, a Gist knife and runner-up Gist belt buckle, sponsored by LMA.
The 2013 Audrey K. Banks "Rookie of the Year" Award winner was Mike Godberson, Pawnee, Okla., who was sponsored by Ouachita Livestock Market, LLC, Ola, Ark., and Cattleman’s Livestock Auction, Harrison, Ark. Godberson was awarded $500 cash by LMA, in recognition of an impressive display of talent at his first WLAC competition.
he seven remaining 2013 WLAC finalists: Tye Casey, Plymouth, Ind.; Brennin Jack, Prince Albert, Saskatchewan; Daniel Mitchell, Cumberland, Ohio; Brandon Neely, Southside, Ala.; Jason Santomaso, Sterling, Colo.; Russele Sleep, Beford, Iowa; and Preston Smith, Imperial, Nebr. All finalists received Gist belt buckles from LMA.
Each of the 31 semi-finalists received garment bags from LMA and commemorative 50th anniversary soft coolers from the host market.
Thirty of the semi-finalists were selected during four quarterfinals held during the year at different livestock markets in the U.S. As the International Livestock Auctioneer Champion is always given a "bye" to become an automatic semi-finalist, Brennin Jack qualified as the champion from Canada.
When not on the auction block at the livestock markets he works, Focht will spend his year traveling the country sharing his auctioneering skills with other livestock markets, and acting as a spokesperson for the industry. Therefore, each semi-finalist had an opportunity to establish their knowledge of the livestock marketing business, and their ability to express that knowledge with clarity, in a judged interview session held on Friday of the championship.
The auctioneering phase of the contest is held during an actual sale, with live bidders in the seats. Contestants were judged on the clarity of their auction chant; vocal quality; their ability to catch bids and conduct the sale; and finally, would the judge hire this auctioneer for their own livestock market?
Following the semi-finals, ten finalists were selected to return to the auction ring for the final round where they sold more lots of cattle, and were judged again, based on the same criteria.
The WLAC highlights the auctioneer’s crucial role in the competitive marketing of livestock. LMA hosts the contest each year to promote the auction method of selling livestock; which results in true price discovery of the value of all classes of livestock and sets the cash market for all other methods of selling.
This year’s 50th anniversary contest was hosted by Montgomery Stockyards, Montgomery, Ala., where attendees had the opportunity to witness a great livestock sale, an incredible auction market crew in action and the best in the business of livestock auctioneering.