Wednesday, March 14, 2012

So, I Smell Like a Sale Barn! You Bet I Do!

When it comes to social media sophistication, you might qualify my husband, Mr. Lamp, a.k.a. "Lampy" and the surname behind my  Lamp Public Relations and Marketing business, as a casual Facebook-friendly bench warmer. Sure, he has a page. Sure, he has few family and friends and has accepted requests by association. But is he out there posting his thoughts daily? Uploading pictures, albums or videos? Or tagging his friends or "checking-in"? Yeah, not so much.

And that's okay! He's willing to learn and that's more the point. Lampy works for Axiom International as a national sales representative. The company has been a Billings-based, family-owned importer of general merchandise since 1983 and Lampy has worked there since 2000. Axiom offers its retail customers a variety of products ranging from party goods, pet toys, to sun and eye glasses. Lampy knows the new "cold call" has become connecting through a social media outlet. And, he's working to embrace that concept.

So, that's where I, with all my social media expertise (I have more than two Twitter followers ~ which makes me qualified since he doesn't even have an account or knows what's so "Pinteresting" about Pinterest) swoops in to coach my team captain! Actually, since I started my trek down the social media yellow brick road of networking communication, he looks at me as the family "Oz" expert. Plus, I have been asked on several occasions to speak, train, track, promote and utilize social media for my clients.

"Sniff, Sniff" Do You Smell That??
When the opportunity came this week to invite Lampy as my guest to the  Billings Advertising and Marketing Club luncheon to attend his first social media marketing training, I suggested he pick me up from my office at Billings Livestock Sales Commission.

Upon arriving and anticipating the introductions and start of the program, Lampy leans over, and what I thought would be an expression of affection from the man I've been happily married to for nearly 16 years, and says, 


"Yes," I whisper back.

"You kind of smell like the sale barn!"

Well, I'm certain that some women might take that verbal observation of their husband's olfactory system and translate it (as we often do) to the following:

"Hey Honey! You STINK!" 

Well, let me tell you why I REVERE, "Honey, you kind of smell like the sale barn!", as ONE OF THE BEST compliments he or anyone could have ever given me!

Billings LiveStock Commission (BLS) ~ Montana’s Pioneer Market
In 2009, I started Lamp Public Relations & Marketing to serve as resource/partner with existing agencies; and/or to add value to businesses that have in-house marketing departments. As a public relations and marketing professional, in addition to more than 20 years of agricultural experience as a daily newspaper reporter & photographer; PR agency senior writer to account executive; public speaker; business owner and marketing executive; I have developed a deep appreciation for our American farmers and ranchers. 

Social media certainly is not a fad, so adding the “Bright Ideas! Brighter Future!” as a tagline and now as a blog for my freelancing business was an attempt to help shed a positive light on promoting business and share stories that would help empower others.

Here are the reasons I choose to have my office at BLS ~  a "sale barn" ~ One of the Oldest, Continuous Livestock Auctions In America:
1. THE HISTORY ~ "Back in 1934, the Wolff Brothers left Denver, Colorado and landed in Billings, Mont., striking up a partnership with the late Arthur “Art” Langman.  Originally, they created a horse and mule auction and later added cows and bulls. Located on First Avenue North, they leased facilities from the Northern Pacific Railroad and set up shop.
Billings LiveStock Commission was the hub market as the Wolff-Langman Partnership developed markets also in Great Falls and Miles City, MT.  Along with auctioneer, Norman G Warsinske and cattle buyer, Lyle Devine, they created a livestock merchandising endeavor that has never been equaled.
In later years Art’s son, the late A.J. “Jerry” Langman and Ralph Cunningham, along with a fieldman by the name of Conrad Burns, now Montana’s US Senator, continued the BLS tradition.  During the late 1970’s Scott Langman, Jerry’s son, became the third generation operator and moved the Billings Live Stock Commission to its present location (home of Lamp Public Relations & Marketing) on the North Frontage Road east of Billings.
In 1984 Scott sold the business to Patrick K. Goggins, who operated it for some years.  Pat sold it to Jack McGuinness, who operated it for sixteen years.  BLS was  purchased in 2003 by Goggins, who totally rebuilt the stockyards, revamping it from head to tail.
BLS sells cattle every week on Thursdays for all classes.  The 4th weekend of each month, BLS becomes the “Horse Selling Capital of Western America”.  500 to 1100 head sell on any given weekend. The Northern Livestock Video Auction base operation is also located at BLS.  Several video sales a year are staged to an international market.

2. THE PEOPLE ~ At the risk of sounding like a name dropper, let's just say I have the opportunity to be around the Best of the Best in the cattle and horse industries any given day of the week. From World Champion Auctioneers, Saddle Bronc Riders, Team Ropers, Reiners, Cattle & Horse Breeders, to any and everyone associated with the livestock industry. Consignors and buyers have traveled to BLS for nearly 80 years from every state of the union (except for Hawaii I'm told) for the tradition of livestock selling through an auction. I have met people from New York, Florida, California, Washington and every state in between at BLS. The current BLS Horse Sale Managers, Jann & Bill Parker, are the best in the business promoting the horse sale market. The February 2012 BLS Horse went down in the books as the best Feb. horse sale since 2007. 

"No where in the United State can they (buyers) find the numbers or the quality they are able to see each and every month in Billings." ~ Bill Parker

3. THE MARKETPLACE MAGIC ~ I was on the auction block during a weekly cattle sale in May 2010, when I heard 2009 World Champion Livestock Marketing Association Auctioneer Ty Thompson, lean back from his microphone, after selling 500 lbs feeder steers for $1.35 (cwt), and say, 

"Holy $#^t! I can't believe that just happened!" 

"MARKETPLACE MAGIC" had just happened on the auction block AGAIN at BLS and I was personally there to witness the cattle market prices swing upwards that day! History as it happened!! Thompson reports that he has seen the cattle market explode since that magical day at BLS. This past fall in 2011, he sold 200-300 lbs feeders for $2.20-$2.30 (cwt). 

"That's the highest we've ever seen it," he says. "We have never seen it that high since, but that day was pretty shocking too."

I've personally seen pedigreed stud horses sell in the $40,000 to $60,000 range. And with that said, I've also seen well-trained ponies sell for as high as $14,000.

I don't know where else in the United States you can see this plethora of livestock ~ both cattle and horse ~ and bring this amount of consignors, buyers, prices in one place. If you know, please tell me!! I doubt I will move my office there. But in the meantime, if you want to find me in the Lamp Public Relations & Marketing office, just come to Billings Livestock Commission ~ the most successful combined cattle and horse sale barn in the United States.

And when you might just smell like a "sale barn" too!!

 I sure hope you don't mind the smell of success!!


  1. I really enjoyed reading this! My husband actually works at a sale barn; in the ring and loads pots at night. I get text messages when calves sell really high. He always comes home with stories about cattle and the people he encounters. He too comes home smelling like sale barn, he say's and I quote,"I smell like money."

  2. Thank you Elizabeth! That's great! I would have to agree with your husband about "smelling like money!" Certainly, meet the "salt of the earth" type of folk at the sale barns. And if you're used to being around it, and you's like a Homecoming when you come back! Lots of history here that I'm proud to have witnessed!

  3. I think it would be interesting to actually see one of the sales and how they work. I have no clue.

  4. Your welcome! This post actually has inspired my next blog post! A nod to our sale barn friends! Currently on the road and in the works! To be published soon! Thanks soo much!