Born in Billings, Montana, I grew up on the Vermilion Ranch just a bit northeast of Billings. I graduated from Shepherd High School, Shepherd, MT, in 1985.
During high school in the summer time when I wasn't needed at the ranch, I started working for my dad's two weekly ag newspapers -- Western Livestock Reporter and Agri-News. I started at the bottom, honing my photography and writing skills and making rounds with some of the ad sales people. Early on, I learned from my father that our two publications were "all breed publications" and that I needed to study pedigrees of all breeds of livestock in order to be well-versed across the livestock industry.
I graduated from Montana State University-Bozeman with a bachelor's degree in Animal Science on June 16, 1989. I moved back to Billings into one of the neighbor's bunkhouses on June 17 and left at 5:30 the next morning on my first official day as a full-time employee of Dad's papers. I was privileged to travel with John McDonald, who worked for Reporter for 27 years and was one of the best fieldmen in the business. That summer, as we traveled around and stopped at all of the advertising accounts, John's training and advice were invaluable. John retired the fall of 1989, and I have never looked back.
Instilled in me at an early age by my father was not only "the auction method" but also the opportunity for true price discovery that it offers. I had plenty of occasions to observe these bedrock philosophies as I grew up around three stockyards and a video auction company, and I've spent the better part of my adult life attending production sales. I had the good fortune to start working the ring at bull sales during my college years at Montana State University, filling in for John McDonald on days that he was double-booked with sales. I so enjoyed -- and I learned so much from -- riding down the highway traveling to sales with Dad, John McDonald, and the other fieldmen who worked for the paper over the years.
When I went to work for the papers after college graduation, I started writing a weekly column titled "Comments" almost immediately. Within a couple of issues, that column settled on page 5 of the Reporter and stayed there for 26 years. Our two papers – Western Livestock Reporter (started in 1940) and Agri-News (started in 1968) were merged in October 2008 into a single publication with a new name: Western Ag Reporter. My "Comments" column and I graduated to the front page when I became Publisher following my father's passing on December 31, 2015.
I married my wife Debi on December 11, 1993, and we have two children: daughter Machaela born in 1995, and son Zack born in 1996.