Cattle-related firms shrug off economy

Tim Hearden/Capital Press Dan Jenson, left, of Provo, Utah-based Powder River Ranch, Cattle and Livestock Equipment talks with a customer Jan. 27 during the Red Bluff Bull and Gelding Sale. The company sells chutes, gates and panels.

Store scales back 'bling' to focus on functional products

By TIM HEARDEN

Capital Press

RED BLUFF, Calif. -- Despite an overall sluggish economy, businesses that cater to the livestock industry have been holding their own.

For some businesses, including Hickman Saddlery in Post Falls, Idaho, the key has been to augment income by venturing into new areas of marketing.

The business has wandered outside the realm of horses and "everything for the working cowboy" to include gifts and apparel, said Trent Poole, its director of operations.

And the shop is also reaching a new clientele.

"We're expanding into Canada," Poole said.

For Rogers Cowboy Supply in Sparks, Nev., the answer has been to get back to basics. The business has scaled back its sales of high-end Western "bling" and stuck with its full line of tack, functional wear and boots, owner Ty Rogers said.

"It's been tough to this point because of the recession, but now it just looks like things are getting better," Rogers said. "I think we've gone back to a lot of core product. There's no way to do without an agricultural industry. Since we deal in things that make that happen, at the core our product is always strong."

Poole and Rogers were among hundreds of shop owners and salespeople giving pitches to eager buyers at the trade show for the Red Bluff Bull and Gelding Sale Jan. 25-28.

The event's expanded trade show this year featured about 160 vendors, signaling that the cattle industry's boom has benefited supporting industries. A similar trade show was set for the Klamath Bull and Horse Sale Feb. 2-5 in Klamath Falls, Ore.

For the Provo, Utah-based Powder River Livestock Handling Equipment Co., business has been "stronger than ever," said Wes Vansickle, a company sales representative. The company sells such large equipment as gates and chutes to ranchers.

Vansickle said salespeople noticed a greater turnout for the Red Bluff trade show.

"With the cattle market doing what it did this year ... it gave an opportunity for people to come out here, and hopefully they'll participate a little more," he said. "The cattle market over the last year is up immensely."

Online

Hickman Saddlery: http://www.hickmansaddlery.net/

Rogers Cowboy Supply: http://www.rogerscowboysupply.com/

Powder River Livestock Handling Equipment: http://www.powderriver.com/

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