New owners take over Exeter livestock auction

Wednesday, September 9, 2015
Rob Sorensen, one of the new owners at Barry County Regional Stockyards, waits while Auctioneer Rusty Stone, top left, takes bids from customers on some Charolais-cross cattle. The sale arena seats 350 and the auction has a computerized sale. New owners Bob and Rob Sorensen and Junior Gaylen recently purchased the auction house, previously known as Exeter Livestock Auctions, and plan to expand the facilities. Julia Kilmer

Partners bring 100-plus years of industry expertise

The Exeter Livestock Auction off Highway 76 is now under new ownership.

Operating as Barry County Livestock Marketing, new owners and father and son Bob and Rob Sorensen, and partner Junior Gaylen, have big plans for the auction house, which has been serving area farmers for over 20 years.

The local entrepreneurs plan to bring a hometown-market feel to the auction, while also marketing cattle to a broader audience, and bring 100-plus years of combined expertise in the livestock auction industry to help buyers and sellers get the best bang for their buck.

They also plan to expand the current 60,000-square-foot facility and have worked together as a team at the Exeter-based auction house since it was built 24 years ago, and at other locations along with longtime Barry County native, Auctioneer Rusty Stone.

"We've been in the livestock business for generations," Rob Sorensen said. "My dad, along with his dad and his grandfather had the Monett Sale Barn back in the '50's, 60's and '70s, and prior to that, there was a livestock auction that burned down in the '50s and my grandfather was a part of running that auction. That was the original livestock auction that was in Exeter.

"My dad and our Auctioneer and Field Representative Rusty Stone, a Barry County native, we all worked together at a livestock auction in northwest Arkansas. Rusty has been an auctioneer for years and years. I worked 23 years at a livestock auction, dad worked 30-plus years and Rusty 13 years, all at one place together before. Junior also had a livestock auction in northwest Arkansas, and two here in Missouri. So, we've got the experience. We didn't just decide yesterday to open a livestock auction."

Bob Sorensen said a benefit to the new owners is the local flavor.

"We grew up in Exeter, went to school here and have lived here our whole life," he said. "Our roots are here, and we feel that the community needs a good market here and that's some of the reasons we got involved here. It's a family-operated, extended family operation.

"My dad and I both, when we were less than a week old, we were at a livestock auction," Rob said. "Junior's the same way. He has an agricultural degree and has always been in the livestock business. He has actually ran auctions for 16-years combined.

"Junior owned this one [in Exeter] for 10-plus years, and when this facility was built 24-some years ago, I was one of the first field men hired, and dad was instrumental in helping get some of the facilities built, so we were involved somewhat when it first started."

Gaylen said when he had the sale barn before, he got to know Bob Sorensen.

"I owned it 13 years, sold it six years ago and then we bought it back," he said. "I've known of Bob all my life. We've partnered on cattle, and started buying and selling cattle together a few years ago. I had the sale barn at Wheaton for a year and we got to talking and decided to buy extra and we came over here and bought it."

Gaylen has a Bachelor of Science degree in Animal Science with a minor in Ag Business, and runs the daily operations of the business.

"One thing about Junior is he's very honest," Bob Sorensen said. "And, he knows cattle. That's one of the reasons we went into business with him. I've seen some situations arise and he knows how to deal with the public. And he's just an all-around, knowledgeable, honest business man. He's just a good guy."

Rob Sorenson said the trio's main objective is to be a livestock auction.

"What we're offering is a more of a hometown-farm-market-feel, but we also want to be able to market feeder cattle to a broader audience, as well," he said. "Saturday was our third sale. We've been averaging around 500 head of livestock."

The business holds auctions every Saturday at noon, and the auction begins with pigs, goats and sheep, then baby calves, weaned calves, feeder calves, feeder cattle, then bulls and slaughter cows. The sale is computerized and the arena seats 350-plus people.

"It's easy to figure out where to go and what to do," Rob Sorensen said.

No overnight fee is charged for farmers who want to bring livestock the night before.

"People can leave cattle overnight and right now, there is no fee, so we encourage people to get them in here Friday night, and we can get them settled in and ready for the sale the next day," Sorensen said.

In the next 12 months, the three plan to expand and add another building and more feed pens, with the goal of building a regional stockyard.

"We're expanding the load-out area where four or five vehicles can unload cattle, and the cat walk, a suspended area to walk over and view the cattle," Sorensen said. "That's been one of the most widely-requested things. We're remodeling the inside of the facilities, too. In the next 12 months, we'll double the size of the existing pen set up."

Bob Sorensen thanked local businesses for their help.

"A few businesses were instrumental in helping us get going," he said. "Superior Metal, Ellis, Cupps and Cole, in particular Don Cupps, Barry County Abstract, Stan Kelley at Freedom Bank, Jeff Parsons at Security bank, SOS Homes and their contractors, Stumpff's Auction Service and the Exeter Feed Store and Jake O'Neil.

"We've had quite bit of support from local businessmen who've brought their livestock in and thank them as well: Mike Carr, John Hendrix, Jim Fohn, Kevin and Doc Miekley, Kenneth Patty, Gary Fields. We don't want to leave everyone else out, but definitely want to thank all the customers who have supported us so far.

The stockyards are open all day Friday to receive cattle, or can start receiving cattle at 6 a.m. Saturday morning.

"We want everyone to be welcome here, and bring all the cattle they can," Gaylen said. "We want everybody's business."

The stockyards are licensed and operating under Barry County Livestock Marketing, and will soon be known as Barry County Regional Stockyards.

For more information on buying or selling livestock, people may call Barry County Livestock Marketing at 417-835-3000, or Junior Gaylen at 417-846-7373.

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