Four industry greats honored during Cattle Feeders Hall of Fame banquet

Jul 8, 2011
by WLJ

—Lee Borck, Dave Wood, John Lacey and Erasmo Becerra recognized for outstanding contributions to the cattle-feeding industry.

Four outstanding individuals in the cattle-feeding industry were celebrated for their leadership, innovation and dedication during the annual Cattle Feeders Hall of Fame banquet on June 30 in Denver, CO.

Two notable figures in the cattle-feeding business—Lee Borck and Dave Wood—became the newest class of inductees to join an elite group of pioneers to the Cattle Feeders Hall of Fame, an honor reserved for exceptional visionary men and women who have made lasting contributions to the cattle-feeding industry.

Additionally, the Hall of Fame recognized longstanding industry advocate, John Lacey, with the Industry Leadership Award. Erasmo “Chico” Becerra also became the first recipient of the newly established Arturo Armendariz Distinguished Service Award, which recognizes exceptional feedyard employees.

“These men each bring a unique offering to our industry, but the common thread among them is their passion, integrity and perseverance,” says Jim Miles, senior marketing manager for Merck Animal Health and Cattle Feeders Hall of Fame founding partner. “It’s an honor and an inspiration for all of us involved with the Cattle Feeders Hall of Fame to acknowledge and celebrate these outstanding individuals.” 2011 Cattle Feeders Hall of Fame inductees and award recipients Visionaries, champions and modern-day influencers in the cattle-feeding industry, Lee Borck and Dave Wood embody what it means to be a cattle feeder. Their abilities to anticipate and accommodate consumer demands have forever changed the way beef is brought to market. Borck and Wood were selected by a nominating committee, along with three other distinguished cattle feeders, and were then voted on by their peers.

“Lee and Dave continually bring innovative ideas to the table, whether they are meeting with their respective companies, or making decisions on behalf of their peers through their leadership roles,” says Randy Blach, CEO of CattleFax and 2011 Hall of Fame banquet emcee. “Our industry is fortunate to have cattle feeders with the passion and drive that Lee and Dave have.” Lee Borck, Beef Marketing Group and Innovative Livestock Services 2011 Hall of Fame Inductee Lee Borck, a Kansas native, is a forward-thinking cattle feeder whose motto, “There is a reason the rearview mirror is so small and the windshield is so big,” perfectly captures his innovative approach to the cattle-feeding business. Throughout his career, Borck has focused on adding value to the end-product while meeting the needs of animals and consumers.

As the chairman of the board for the Beef Marketing Group and president of Innovative Livestock Services, Inc., Borck has been instrumental in developing a unique approach to meet the retail customer needs through innovative alignment between the producer and the meat case. His commitment to food safety, animal care and sustainability are the pillars to many of the specific cattle and beef programs he has been involved with.

A proven leader and advocate for the beef and cattle-feeding industries, Borck has served in many leadership roles, including the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association board (NCBA), the Cattlemen’s Beef Board (CBB), and past president of CattleFax and the Kansas Livestock Association.

In 2007, Borck’s accomplishments and dedication to his alma mater, Kansas State University, were recognized when the university awarded him its highest honor—a Medal of Excellence. He also received a

Vision Award from NCBA in 2009.

“Lee’s extraordinary leadership and vision are true assets to cattle feeding and all of agriculture,” says John Butler, CEO of Beef Marketing Group. “Lee is an exceptional cattleman, businessman and person. He is truly deserving of this honor.” Dave Wood, Harris Feeding Company 2011 Hall of Fame Inductee When Dave Wood accepted his first job with Harris Farms, Inc., he had no idea he would one day become one of the most recognized cattlemen in the cattle-feeding business and make the Harris name a household word.

Forty years later, Wood has helped Harris Feeding Company and Harris Ranch Beef Company pioneer many firsts in the beef business, including being the first beef processor to enter the market of fully-cooked, heat-andserve beef entrees.

Wood, who has always understood the need to meet the demands of the end-user, also developed the Harris Ranch “Partnership for Quality” program, which unites the producer, feeder and packer to ensure the consumers’ demand for consistent, high-quality beef is met.

In addition to leading his company, Wood also has served the industry he is so passionate about, acting as past president of CattleFax and the Western States Meat Association and serving as chairman for many industry associations, including CBB.

Despite his success downstream in the beef chain, Wood stays true to his roots by running his own stocker and cow/calf operation and partnering with Lacey Livestock, which operates a cow/calf and stocker operation known as Centennial Ranch. The California cattleman also is a co-owner of a diversified farming and nut tree operation.

“Dave’s track record of success, as well as a commitment to his career and to the beef industry as a whole, makes him a remarkable cattleman and cattle feeder,” says Blach. “It is individuals like Dave that have made the cattle feeding

industry what it is today.” John Lacey, Lacey Ranch Industry Leadership Award Recipient Within this industry, advocates are as critical to success as the cattle feeders themselves. Their unconditional passion for the cattle-feeding profession should not go unnoticed. The Industry Leadership Award is given to distinguished individuals who have demonstrated outstanding leadership, provided exemplary service, and have made significant contributions to the advancement of the cattlefeeding business. John Lacey was chosen by the industry to be honored as this year’s Industry Leadership Award recipient.

For more than 140 years, ranching in California has been the way of life for the Lacey family. You could say a passion for the beef industry is in his blood, but it’s also been evident from his career accomplishments and outstanding leadership.

Lacey operates several cow/calf, yearling and cattle-feeding enterprises. He is a past president of the California Cattlemen’s Association and the only person to serve as president of both the National Cattlemen’s Association (NCA) and NCBA. He also has served as chairman for the California Beef Council and is currently serving as chairman of the National Cattlemen’s Foundation. Lacey also has been a committee and/or board member for numerous other or ganizations ranging from the Chicago Mercantile Exchange to the National Livestock and Meat Board.

While Lacey’s leadership, insight and credibility among grass-roots producers have shown throughout his career, one of his biggest accomplishments was his involvement in the successful merger of the NCA and National Livestock and Meat Board/Beef Industry Council into the NCBA in 1996. Erasmo “Chico” Becerra, Hale Center Feedyard Arturo Armendariz Distinguished Service Award recipient The success of the cattlefeeding industry would not be possible without the hard work and commitment from the countless feedyard employees. For this reason, the Cattle Feeders Hall of Fame honors one deserving individual each year with the Arturo Armendariz Distinguished Service Award.

Armendariz, who passed away in 2008, spent nearly three decades at Poky Feeders in Scott City, KS. His role as a devoted employee, family man, friend and longtime member of the beef industry made family him a perfect namesake of this award.

The first recipient of this award was honored at the June 30 banquet—Chico Becerra, a 32-year cattle feeding veteran with Hale Center Feedyard, a part of Cactus Feeders, Inc., in Hale Center, TX. Despite overwhelming odds, including living with a prosthetic leg for the past 40 years, Becerra has never lost his integrity, sincerity and unparalleled work ethic. A family man and a good friend to many, those fortunate enough to work with Becerra are quick to praise him for his commitment to excellence and his natural ability to lead and educate others on best practices and safety.

“Chico is a stayer, a committer, a man whose handshake means something,” says Kevin Kuriyama, general manager of Hale Center Feedyard. “In respect, he is quick to give it freely, but never demands it in return; he cherishes it when received, but never expects it. He is much more than a feedtruck driver and much more than an employee. He is a good man and a good friend.” — WLJ