By Merrick Eagleton
STILLWATER, Okla. —
The 12th time was the charm for Stillwater’s Dustin Focht, who came away the champion of the Livestock Marketing Association’s 50th Anniversary World Livestock Auctioneer Championship.
Mike Godberson of Pawnee was awarded the Audrey K. Banks Rookie of the Year title at the event.
According to the Livestock Marketing Association’s website, “auctions are a vital part of the livestock industry, serving producers and assuring a fair, competitive price through the auction method of selling.”
Focht and Godberson insisted this is the most important part of what they do. However, their stories of how they got into auctioneering vary.
Focht didn’t always know he wanted to be an auctioneer. Although his grandfather had a livestock company and was an auctioneer, Focht was young when his grandfather retired. Focht moved to Chicago after graduating from Oklahoma State University. He began auctioneering in late 1999 after returning to Stillwater. Although two acquaintances, Ralph Wade and Greg Griffeth, taught him the business, Focht said he still believes his grandfather has something to do with it.
“I think there’s maybe a little bit of genetics, kinship there,” Focht said.
After competing in this competition for the past 11 years, Focht had the experience and confidence he needed to earn the title. Focht’s strategy was to relax and focus on the actual business transaction.
“I tried to do the very best job I can do and maintain the mindset I was just at a home market as opposed to competing at a championship of that caliber,” Focht said.
Along with winning the championship comes the responsibility to uphold the spokesman aspect of an auctioneer.
“The importance of the role of the auctioneer is in competitive price discovery,” Focht said. “It’s not really about me or success or anything. It’s about that.”
Unlike Focht, Godberson got his foot in the door at a young age. At 16, he began working in the stockyards at Pawnee livestock sales. When he was 17, he was given the opportunity to sell butcher cows. Over the last 22 years, Godberson has auctioneered at least one live sale a week.
“I don’t feel like a rookie cause I’ve been selling for 22 years,” Godberson said.
This was the first time Godberson has qualified for the finals. He said it was an honor to win the Rookie of the Year award.
“The prestige of that contest itself was a great honor,” Godberson said.