New Owners, New Name
Straddling the historical lines between Arkansas and Oklahoma lay a sale barn that is anything but ordinary.
The Fort Smith Stockyards, previously known as Fort Smith Livestock Auction, opened its doors in the early 1940s as a commission based sale yard. In approximately 1962, the first set of cattle went through one of the area’s largest sale rings.
On July 1, 2016, Budge Herbert, Scottie Smith, and Sam Chandler’s lives changed when they became the new owners of the sale barn. Their wives, Samantha Herbert and Kristi Smith, instrumented the change of the name and seven days later, on the following Monday, the trio held their first sale.
Both Budge and Scottie fail to remember a time when their lives were void of cattle.
“I’ve always been in a barn with cattle,” said Budge.
“I don’t remember [life without] cattle,” rationalized Scottie. “That’s what Dad had done. Born and raised.”
In the eight months since owning the stockyards, Budge and Scottie can only describe the experience as “a ride.”
“It’s been better than we expected,” Budge said. “It’s grown faster too. We always thought we could do something like this, we just thought it would take longer.”
Fort Smith Stockyards is estimated to sell between 50,000-60,000 head of cattle in its first year with the new owners. Their largest sale so far ran through 2,000 head at their first pre-vac sale in November.
“We are planning on it being an annual sale and that it will get to be well known,” explained Budge.
They have also hosted six special stock cow sales, “that have been really good,” Budge stressed.
Budge and Scottie attribute their success to their personal marketability with current and potential customers.
“During the week, Budge and I go visit people,” said Scottie.
Budge continued, “We find a place that’s got a cow, knock on their door, and talk to them about their cattle. We [ultimately] invite them to the sale.
Scottie laughed, “We basically do whatever we have to do to get them (to the sale barn).
In addition to gaining new buyers and sellers alike, who Scottie believes is vital to “create more competition and make the market better,” they keep up with the market value of their business.
“We’re going to make sure the seller gets what he needs to out of his cattle,” said Budge.
The facilities are another reason why the men believe in the success of the business. It occupies 280 acres that runs only one mile from I-40.
“There’s no other sale barn like it,” proclaimed Budge. Not in Oklahoma City, El Reno – none of them that have 50 grass traps, or a 50-acre hay meadow.”
Due to the vast facilities, cattle can be delivered any day of the week and graze on grass until sale day.
In addition to expansive nature of the facility, Budge and Scottie stress the importance of an easy experience.
Budge explained, “We’ve changed to a pull through with a tagging shoot. [Sellers] can just drive up and their cattle are tagged right then. It just makes it better all around.”
The trio’s long-term goals mainly focus on gaining numbers.
“The first year we can sell 100,000 cattle, we’re going to be pretty tickled,” said Scottie. “And we think we can do that.”
Budge summed up their experience up to date and the days ahead. “The possibilities are endless to how big it could actually get.”