Wayne Tupper retiring after 30 years operating the Kimball Livestock Exchange in SD | TheFencePost.com
Amanda Radke
Radke is a cattle rancher, freelance writer and agricultural speaker from Mitchell, S.D. She can be reached at amanda.radke@live.com.

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Wayne Tupper retiring after 30 years operating the Kimball Livestock Exchange in SD

Fred Olson, former owner of Kimball Livestock in Kimball, S.D., and crew take bids on some Hereford cattle more than 50 years ago at the sale barn.

After 30 years of owning and operating the Kimball Livestock Exchange, LLC, in Kimball, S.D., Wayne Tupper is ready to retire.

"I'll be 66 this May, and I've been wanting to retire, but I didn't want to see the doors close to this business," Tupper said. "The people in this community have always been really good to me, and I wanted to see Kimball Livestock remain open for this ranching community and the people who have supported me over the years."

Located along I-90, Kimball Livestock now has new owners at the helm — Wade and Christina Christensen and Chad Heezen.

Looking back on the last three decades in the cattle business, Tupper said the people were the best part of owning a sale barn.

"There's too many great memories to list, but the people I've met — buyers and sellers — they have made this a great experience for me," Tupper said. "If you would have told me 30 years ago that we would be selling cattle on Cattle USA live nationwide online, I would have thought you were crazy. The industry has evolved so much over the years; it's just unbelievable."

Tupper said Kimball Livestock is in good hands with the new owners.

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"Wade and Chad are both very well respected in this business and very knowledgeable about the cattle industry," Tupper said. "They have been in the livestock business their entire lives. They'll do a fantastic job and will bring new ideas to the sale barn. They'll do things better than I did, and that's the way it should be."

READY TO ROLL

With just a couple weeks of sales under their belts, Christensen and Heezen are ready to hit the ground running as the new leaders at Kimball Livestock.

"Wayne asked me a year and a half ago if I wanted to buy this place, but it just wasn't the right timing for me," said Chad Heezen, who backgrounds cattle of his own. "When I approached him again about the opportunity, I brought Wade and Christina into the fold, too. It's always been a dream of mine to own a sale barn. My grandpa was involved in this business, and I've worked everywhere from the Sioux Falls Stockyards, to Wessington Springs, to Highmore, to Fort Pierre, so this is an exciting deal to finally own a sale barn."

Heezen's grandfather, John Heezen, worked at Kimball Livestock in the '50s and '60s for Fred Olson, the owner at that time. Wade's dad, Lyle, also worked at Kimball Livestock when Darold Mentzer was the owner. So the tradition continues as Heezen and Christensen carry on their family legacy at the sale barn.

In recent years, Kimball Livestock has sold approximately 28,000 head of cattle annually, but Heezen hopes to increase that number in the future.

"Our market has been really good the last few sales we have had," Heezen said. "It's been a good time to take over the sale barn. We would love to see more folks marketing their cattle through Kimball Livestock, and we hope to increase, or even double, the number of head sold annually here in Kimball."

PLENTY OF HELP

Wade and Christina Christensen are equally excited to join Chad in this new business venture. Married for 14 years, the couple work closely together on their ranch near Wessington Springs. Christina also works part-time as a nurse and will assist Wade and Chad with the sale barn in her spare time.

"We had always thought about this opportunity, but it was never the right time," Christina said. "This time, we decided it was now or never. We want to try to grow the business and broaden the service area. We've updated the website and Facebook page, and we encourage folks to check it out."

Kimball Livestock Exchange can be found on Facebook or at http://www.kimballlivestockexchange.com/about. Both sites will have up-to-date market reports and consignment lists.

"Both Chad and I really like to work with cattle and do business with people," Wade said. "We want to help people get their calves marketed, and we want to continue to grow this business. It's been pretty exciting around here the last three weeks with the way the markets have been. We had a bred cow sale here two weeks ago that was fantastic with seats fuller than they've ever been in the place. Last week, we had a barnburner of a sale, and it's been good to see people with smiles on their faces. We haven't seen much of that since things started to turn south last October. I hope this positive momentum will continue."

Kimball Livestock hosts a weekly sale every Tuesday with the sale barn cafe serving a meal for buyers and sellers.

"Sales start at 1 p.m. for feeder cattle with weigh-ups at 11 a.m.," Christina said. "Last week, we sold 2,500 head. We had a super line-up of cattle, and the sale went really smoothly. If you have cattle to consign, give us a call."

Chad Heezen can be reached at (605) 870-0697; Wade Christensen at (605) 730-1801; and Dick Deffenbaugh, yard manager, at (605) 680-1324.