Taking top title in WLAC something you always dream about, 2011 winner says

Jul 8, 2011
by WLJ

Charly Cummings said that winning Livestock Marketing Association’s (LMA) 2011 World Livestock Auctioneer Championship (WLAC), following competition here at the Upstate Livestock Exchange, “was pretty overwhelming, something you always dream about.”

And take it from this Yates Center, KS, auctioneer who’s been in four WLACs: the competition from the other 32 contestants for the coveted title of world champion “was phenomenal, from top to bottom. There were eight to 12 other guys I thought could have won.”

But it was Cummings, 32, who claimed the victory June 25 at the 48th annual WLAC. His previous highest finish was last year, when he was named runner-up world champion, or third place.

In 2008, he was named the Audrey K. Banks “Rookie of the Year.” The award and a $500 prize from LMA go to the highest-scoring firsttime contestant in that year’s semi-finals.

The award is named after a long-time LMA employee who worked on the WLAC for decades. This year’s winner was Jaxon Allen, Lewistown, MT.

This year’s reserve world champion is Justin Dodson, Welch, OK, and the runnerup world champion is Dustin Focht, Stillwater, OK.

Cummings was sponsored by the market where he is a partner, Southeast Kansas Stockyards, LLC, Gas, KS.

During his year as world champion, he will go on the road for LMA, appearing at member livestock markets and at industry events. And that’s just fine with him.

“I want to make many, many appearances at markets, promoting the auction method of livestock marketing, showcasing the role of the auctioneer, and being a spokesman for this industry. We need more spokesmen to talk about what we do,” he said.

Dodson, this year’s reserve champion, was runner-up world champion in 2005. That means he has just one title—world champion—left to win.

“I’m looking forward to that,” he said, “and if I’m lucky enough to win, I’ll be a hard man to hold down.”

The veteran contestant has an impressive record. This was his 12th time in the WLAC. In addition to the two titles, he’s been in the finals eight times.

Dodson echoed Cummings’ evaluation of this year’s competition. It was “extremely tough. There were a lot of young guys (competing), and they are so much more advanced as auctioneers than I was at their age … at 41, I guess I’m one of the old guys.”

Dodson was sponsored by Parsons Livestock Market, Inc., Parsons, KS, Anderson County Sales Company, Garnett, KS, and South Coffeyville Stockyards, Inc., South Coffeyville, OK.

For Focht, 41, winning the runner-up champion title was his highest finish in nine years of competition— and when his name was called, “I was ecstatic.”

Winning the world title “would mean a great deal to me from an educational standpoint. I would love to educate consumers, young people and everyday folks who may not understand what livestock marketing is all about.”

Focht said he currently talks to industry and student groups about livestock marketing, production issues and sales management, “and I think being world champion would give me a bigger platform … and open more doors” for that work.

Focht’s sponsors were Woodward Livestock Auction, Inc., Woodward, OK, Cherokee Sales Co., LLC, Cherokee, OK, and Anthony Livestock Sales Co., Anthony, KS.

The other seven finalists, in alphabetical order, were:

Jaxon Allen, Lewistown, MT; Tye Casey, Plymouth, IN; Tom Frey, Creston, IA; Mike Nuss, Minatare, NE; Jay Romine, Mt. Washington, KY; Jason Santomaso, Sterling, CO; and Russele Sleep, Bedford, IA.

From LMA, Cummings received a $5,000 check, the champion’s sculpture, a hand-tooled leather briefcase, a custom belt buckle from Gist Silversmiths, and for his championship year, the use of a 2011 Ford F150 truck.

He was also presented the custom-designed world champion’s ring from the WLAC hosts, Upstate Livestock Exchange, LLC, and Martin & Martin Cattle, Inc.; the Golden Gavel award from the World Wide College of Auctioneering; and a James Reid, Ltd., money clip from CattleUSA.com LMA presents the reserve champion and the runner-up champion with $2,000 and $1,000, respectively, along with a Gist knife and Gist belt buckles. The finalists also receive Gist buckles from LMA.

The semi-finalists receive money clips from LMA, and from the WLAC hosts, custom hand-tooled leather Day Runners.

The championship is an actual sale. The semi-finalists each sell eight drafts of cattle and are judged on clarity of chant and voice quality, bid-catching ability, conduct or expedition of the sale, and having the judges answer this question, “Would I hire this auctioneer?” The semi-finalists are narrowed down to 10 finalists who then sell an additional 10 drafts and are judged on the above criteria.

Twenty-five percent of the semi-finalists’ and finalists’ scores are determined by a pre-contest interview. The judging criteria are personal presentation, clarity of expression/articulation, knowledge of, and the ability to be a spokesman for the livestock industry, and “Would I hire this auctioneer?” LMA will again use four quarterfinal competitions to qualify contestants for the 2012 WLAC. The top eight scorers in each competition will move on to next June’s WLAC.

The 33rd contestant is the International Auctioneer Champion, traditionally given a “bye” into the WLAC semi-finals.

The quarterfinals will be Sept. 19, Farmers Livestock Market of Glasgow, Glasgow, KY; Oct. 20, Stockmen’s Livestock Exchange, Inc., Dickinson, ND; Jan. 17, Producers Livestock Marketing Association, Greeley, CO, March 8, Groesbeck Auction & Livestock Co., Inc., Groesbeck, TX.

The 2012 WLAC—the 49th annual—will be June 16 at Turlock Livestock Auction Yard, Inc., Turlock, CA.

LMA created and conducts the WLAC to spotlight competitive livestock marketing and the auctioneer’s continuing vital role in that process. — WLJ