ND’s Schnell to serve as Livestock Marketing Association VP
June 8, 2018
North Dakotan Larry Schnell stepped into the role of vice president of the Livestock Marketing Association during the group's annual convention that started on June 6 in Dubuque, Iowa. It wrapped up with some newly-elected board members as well as directors.
Schnell is an owner and operator of Stockman's Livestock Exchange, in Dickinson, N.D., and is partnered with James Erickson. Stockman's Livestock Exchange got its start in 1937 with Schnell's grandfather as Dickinson Livestock Market; it then shifted hands to Schnell's dad who shifted the name to Schnell Dickinson Livestock Marketing. It has been under its current name since 1977.
"There has always been a Schnell involved," he said. "My grandfather was, of course, an auctioneer, my dad and three or four of his brothers too. That's how auctioneering came about."
Western College of Auctioneering, where Schnell was handed his diploma in 1975, offers a two-week course in which students learn a bit about real estate, cattle, and household auctions. "As far as auctioneering itself, they teach you to chant, how to put rhythm in your chant, different tongue twisters, and how to handle different numbers in a hurry, then it's up to you," he said. "You have to do 99 percent of the work. It gives you the ability to say, 'I went to auctioneering school,' then you have to refine your ability to be an auctioneer."
About five or six years ago, a regional director position opened up with the LMA, which Schnell took. He has tried his hand at several World Livestock Auctioneer Championships (WLAC), eight to 10 since the '80s, and always went to the LMA conventions since he was there anyway.
"I've always thought LMA has always done a good job representing auction markets," Schnell said.
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While he didn't jump at the opportunity to be LMA's vice president, he did graciously accept the nomination.
"I'll have to take on a lot more responsibility, and I guess I'd have to say, I am looking forward to it, but it's not something I've been seeking," he said. He will have the opportunity to vie for the presidency in two years.
Headquartered in Kansas, City Mo., LMA's convention, which moves locations annually, offers auction market owners and auctioneers opportunities to meet with others from around the nation within their industry, discuss pertinent topics and issues, and garner new information through break-out sessions.
"Wednesday, we'll go to Dubuque Works, to the John Deere Factory, to see where they build some of the heavy equipment, including skid steers, which a lot of our members use," said Lindsay Graber Runft, director of marketing and communications for LMA. "Then the convention will get started Thursday. We'll have an opening statement from our outgoing president Jerry Etheredge and feature all the business LMA has done, and we'll hear from our animal health sponsor Boehringer-Ingelheim."
Throughout breakout sessions Thursday and Friday regarding cyber security, livestock handling, mandatory ID for livestock, trucking regulations, and more, the WLAC got underway with interviews.
The WLAC, hosted in Bloomington, Wis., 41 miles away from Dubuque across the Mississippi River, is always held in conjunction with the LMA convention and featured 31 individuals who qualified as top 10 in one of three competitions through the nation last year, as well as the top Canadian auctioneer.
"It's always the crown jewel of the convention," Runft said. The award program was the last day of convention.
Live cattle are sold as part of WLAC. Each of the 31 contestants will test their knowledge of the current market and cattle industry, as well as display their own unique chant and smooth and clear way of auctioneering.
Thad McDermott is one of the 31 who qualified, and he is doing his best to catch the eyes of the judges, from the top of his well-shaped hat, down to his clean, oiled boots.
"If you have a good, smooth chant, everything goes a lot smoother," he said. "You should also dress pretty good. A lot of us will take first impressions on how you dress. Wear a good pair of boots, a nice hat, and comb your hair."
McDermott operates his own auction business near his small town of 35 people, Wellfleet, Neb., with his wife Lucinda. He sells cattle once a week at Broken Bow Livestock, and runs his own pairs, about 400, as well as running yearlings, and raising corn and alfalfa. He and Lucinda put up alfalfa until two in the morning Monday before leaving Tuesday to drop their two young daughters at grandma's and head to the LMA Convention and WLAC.
"We have a kind of down-to-earth home deal," he said. "There are a lot of rewards, but it is a hard time to get where you need to go. If someone knows more than what a guy knows, you can learn a lot by listening."
In his first competition of this kind, McDermott qualified last September in Imperial, Neb.
"It was close to home, first time I ever entered, and got fortunate enough to get put into the rookie deal and won the rookie competition and qualified for a top 10 spot," he said.
McDermott is the first in his family to auctioneer, though his dad and grandad were order buyers, he said. He attended Worldwide Auction School in Mason City, Iowa, and started his own business 18 years ago.
"I'm just really excited to go to one of these things," he said. "It's a heck of an honor just to make it this far. That's the main thing, just a great honor. It's going to be a lot of fun: win, lose, or draw." ❖