Layman plans to make Nebraska’s North Platte Stockyards into cattle marketing hub
November 9, 2018
When Kyle Layman took over the reins of the former North Platte Livestock Auction in North Platte, Neb., he had several goals in mind for the business that had closed earlier this year.
"What I really want to do is rebuild confidence and trust amongst the buyers and sellers that this sale barn is going to be around a long time, and that I'm going to build it back into what it once was," he said.
Layman purchased the sale barn in late September, and has renamed it North Platte Stockyards. The day he signed the papers, Layman accomplished a personal goal he had set for himself several years earlier.
"When I was in my early 20s, I wanted to be a part of a sale barn, and it was a dream of mine to own one. I pretty much went all in. All my chips are on the table. I've found that you can't be afraid to take chances," he said of the purchase.
Growing up around livestock on a farm and ranch, Layman moved to North Platte at 16, and considers the community his home.
"I was a young boy, probably only 12 or 13 years old, when I started going to livestock sales and antique auctions. I started to pick up my auctioneer skills there. I was self-taught, but I went to auctioneer school to become licensed," he said.
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Layman didn't work as an auctioneer until after he embarked on a seven-year stint in the military, where he served as a precision weapons technician in the Marine Corps.
"I was actually working on a ranch, Baldridge Brothers Angus, when our country went to war with Iraq. I was young, capable and wanted to help, so I enlisted," he said.
After the military, Layman took a job as a journeyman auctioneer, where he would spend most of his time traveling to several area sale barns, helping auctioneer during sale days.
"It helped me network with the buyers, and now I know them all. We have a lot of mutual respect for one another, and I have a great working relationship with all of them. They want to help me succeed," he said.
"I worked as an auctioneer in about every sale barn but this one, so not a lot of people here locally got to know me because of that," he said. "It's something I'm now trying to rectify. I want to rebuild their confidence, so every day, except Monday and Tuesday, I drive around the country knocking on doors and meeting people. I have found it's very important to rebuild that relationship."
He has also competed in several auctioneering contests.
Layman was the Nebraska State Auctioneer Champion in 2015, the Kansas Livestock Auctioneering Champion in 2015, and the winner of the Greater Midwest Livestock Auctioneering contest in 2017. He has also finished in the top 10 in the World Livestock Auctioneering contest, and was the reserve champion at the International Livestock Auctioneering contest in Calgary, Alberta, Canada in June.
Terry Elson of North Platte, Matt Lowery of Burwell, and Paul C. Behr of Colorado, who are past world champion auctioneers, have all served as mentors for Layman. "Loyd Wilson, who owned the sale barn in Imperial, was the first employer to give me chance to auctioneer when I got out of the Marine Corps. I have had a lot of help getting into this business," he said. "I don't believe there is such a thing as a self-made man. You need people to believe in you and give you a chance to help you succeed."
SALE BARN HISTORY
North Platte Livestock Auction has a strong history dating back to the 1950s. Layman knows all the previous owners, and can feel the history vibrating from the walls of the facility. "There used to be a horse packing plant, a slaughter cow and bull packing plant, and a fat cattle packing plant all within a block of this sale barn," he said. "They're all gone now, but it used to be quite a deal."
Over the years, the sale barn traditionally auctioned cattle and horses, although at one time, sheep, goats and hogs were also sold. Layman said he plans to stick with tradition. "We will hold a cattle sale every Tuesday, and a monthly horse sale the second Tuesday of every month at 6 p.m.," he said. Layman doesn't plan to add a sheep, goat and hog sale, or tack to the monthly horse auction, but all types of horses can be consigned.
The facility is in good condition, Layman said, and the building holding the offices and sale ring only needed a few minor updates. "The primary focus will be on the back pens, as far as repairs," he said. "We want to be able to take 2,000 to 3,000 head of cattle at a time, with no problems. We had 2,000 head here the other day, and it was pushing the limit. Eventually, I would like to get to where we can hold 4,000 to 5,000 head at a time. We will be rebuilding some of the back pens next summer, when summertime movement slows down and cattle go to grass. We plan to tear out some of the old wooden pens, and replace them with steel."
"Ultimately, I want to grow to a 60,000-70,000 head barn, and become the staple in the community that this barn once was. The barn was once a hub for a lot of cattle being moved throughout the country," he said. "I just spoke with a buyer from Iowa who used to buy thousands of head of cattle here for his customers in Iowa. His buyers loved to feed the cattle coming from the Sandhills because the ranchers are known throughout the country for how they handle their cattle, how they wean them, and how they run them out on the meadows after they wean them. They bring them to town in great feeding condition for the next guy. So, no doubt, they are famous for that," he said.
North Platte Stockyards can be found online at http://www.northplattestockyards.com and on facebook at North Platte Stockyards. They can be reached at (308) 534-1200. Internet buyers can also watch the auction live and bid online at cattleusa.com.
— Clark is a freelance livestock journalist from western Nebraska. She can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.