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PRESS RELEASE

Sleep Wins 2019 World Livestock Auctioneer Championship

Russele Sleep

June 14, 2019

Russele Sleep of Bedford, Iowa was named the 2019 World Livestock Auctioneer Champion (WLAC) at the 56th annual competition held at Tulare Sales Yard, Tulare, Calif. and presented by the Livestock Marketing Association (LMA).

“It was a dream come true,” Sleep says. “I started coming to the WLAC competitions in 2009, and it goes to show hard work, dedication and a love for the livestock auction business pays off in the end.”

Sleep, a nine-time top ten qualifier of the WLAC and 2016 Reserve Champion Auctioneer, earned his spot to this year’s competition by winning the LMA’s Midwest Qualifying Event. Twenty-nine other semi-finalists also qualified through three regional qualifying events. The additional semi-finalist was the 2019 International Auctioneer Champion, which is given an automatic “bye” to compete.

Chuck Bradley from Rockford, Ala., earned Reserve Champion honors, and Will Epperly from Dunlap, Iowa, was named Runner-Up Champion.

Other top ten finalists were Eric Drees, Nampa, Idaho; Dean Edge, Rimbey, Alberta; Steven Goedert, Dillion, Mont.; Brennin Jack, Prince Albert, Sask; Ryan Konynenbelt, Ft. Macleod, Alberta; Wade Leist, Boyne City, Mich.; Jacob Massey, Petersburg, Tenn.

Additional semi-finalists were Neil Bouray, Webber, Kan.; Colton Brantley, Modesto, Calif.; Darren Carter, Ninety Six, S.C.; Dakota Davis, Caldwell, Kan.; Brandon Frey, Creston, Iowa; Philip Gilstrap, Pendleton, S.C.; Shane Hatch, Kirtland, N.M.; Jim Hertzog, Butler, Mo.; Garrett Jones, Los Banos, Calif.; Lynn Langvardt, Chapman, Kan.; Justin Mebane, Bakersfield, Calif.; Jeremy Miller, Fairland, Okla.; Daniel Mitchell, Cumberland, Ohio; Christopher Pinard, Swainsboro, Ga.; Jay Romine, Mt. Washington, Ky.; Jim Settle, Arroyo Grande, Calif.; Dustin Smith, Jay, Okla.; Curtis Wetovick, Fullerton, Neb.; Tim Yoder, Montezuma, Ga.; Vern Yoder, Dundee, Ohio and Zack Zumstein, Marsing, Idaho.

Kristen Parman, LMA VP of Membership Services, says, “LMA is proud to sponsor an event that brings together North America’s top livestock auctioneers in a competition that showcases professionalism and promotes the auction method of selling livestock.”

As a part of the champion’s role, Sleep will spend the next year traveling the country, sharing his auctioneering skills with other livestock auction markets and acting as a spokesperson on behalf of the livestock marketing industry and the LMA.

“The auctioneer championship showcases the importance of the local livestock markets and the role the auctioneer plays in true-price discovery and I’m looking forward to promoting that this year,” Sleep says.

Sleep, a Missouri Auction School graduate, works as a contract auctioneer for Knoxville Regional Livestock Market, Fort Scott Livestock Market, Inc., Southeast Kansas Stockyards LLC, Clarinda Livestock Auction, Inc., Russell Livestock Market and Green City Livestock Marketing LLC. He lives in Bedford, Iowa with his wife Lacey and three children.

A one-hour highlight show from the 2019 competition will air on RFD-TV June 24 beginning at 7 p.m. (CST). WLAC fans can mark their calendars for the 2020 World Livestock Auctioneer Championship, which will be held next June 3–6 at the Dickson Regional Livestock Center, in Dickson, Tenn.


About the Livestock Marketing Association

The Livestock Marketing Association (LMA), headquartered in Overland Park, Kan., is North America’s leading, national trade association dedicated to serving its members in the open and competitive auction method of marketing livestock. Founded in 1947, LMA has more than 800 member businesses across the U.S. and Canada and remains invested in both the livestock and livestock marketing industries through member support, education programs, policy representation and communication efforts.



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November 2, 2023

Florida auction market bounces back after Category 3 hurricane

As Hurricane Idalia grew closer to Florida’s Big Bend on Monday, August 28 — just two days before it would hit land — many residents were prepping for the storm. But for Alvin “Ab” Townsend and his nephew Rick Greiner, there was a different kind of preparation taking place. Tuesday is sale day at their Townsend Livestock Market, and it was business as usual, despite the uncertainty of what might come. “I started calling some of our buyers,” Greiner says. “And as long as they were going to buy cattle, we were going to have a sale.” So, sell cattle they did. They got through 400 head before they needed to shut down and head home. Early Wednesday morning, the Category 3 hurricane made landfall. Greiner couldn’t get out of his house, but Townsend — along with his wife and sister — were able to drive to the auction market that’s been in the family for four generations. At first, he thought they were at the wrong place. “It didn’t look anything like our place,” Townsend says. “Everything was just on the dirt. The building, our pens, everything was just on the dirt.” Moving On  Before Wednesday had ended, the family had called John Kissee, regional executive officer at Livestock Marketing Association. As longtime members, as well as clients of the association’s Livestock Marketing Insurance Agency, they knew they were covered.  Kissee understood Ab and Rick would want to move quickly but took time to ensure all bases were covered, insurance-wise. Kissee called back the following day, as promised. He told them the tear down and clean up could begin after taking photos to document the damage. By Monday, excavators were scraping the slab where the auction market once stood. Greiner says they had no choice but to move quickly, and they had no intention of missing more than one sale day. They started getting pens up and brainstorming how they’d hold the following week’s auction with less-than-ideal infrastructure.  To be safe, they didn’t advertise. And yet, they still got 400 head. It went well and they doubled their numbers the following week. Of course, there were challenges to selling in such makeshift facilities — like the Tuesday it rained all day and there was no barn to offer cover. But Greiner says they remained grateful through it all. “You don’t have to look very far to see somebody who’s got it worse than what we had,” he says. “We’re just lucky to be back to work and selling good cattle for our good producers.” A Helping Hand Both men are quick to credit the role Livestock Marketing Insurance Agency played in their recovery efforts. “I wouldn’t want to imagine not having Mr. John to call,” Greiner says.  Townsend agrees. “The thing with insurance,” the third-generation auction market operator says, “is you don’t need it until something happens. But then when something happens you better thank the Good Lord you had it. Because what would we have done?” Not only did Kissee and the insurance adjuster make the process a breeze, but Townsend says it never felt like a business transaction. “They’re more than just a company,” he says. “LMIA is a group of people who cares.”