The seedstock auctioneer’s chant is a familiar sound to John Andras of Billings, Mont. He grew up in the purebred cattle industry — mostly around the chromed-out red variety — served on the Montana and National Junior Hereford Association boards, and worked his way through college at major U.S. cattle shows learning from top breeders, all while judging livestock and studying animal science at Clarendon College and Oklahoma State University.
Some say Andras was “born” to the job he holds today — working as the purebred division representative for Superior Livestock Auctions.
His seedstock pedigree runs deep. His great-great-grandfather on the Andras side started raising Herefords on the original family farm in Manchester, Ill., in 1898. On the bottom side of his paperwork, his mother’s father, George Ellis, managed the noted Beartooth Ranch in Columbus, Mont., raising registered Herefords. His parents met at a Junior National Show.
“I’ve never known anything different — there’s never been anything I’ve ever wanted to do besides be a cattleman,” Andras says.
Working side-by-side with longtime role models, he continues to learn from industry greats. But nowadays, he’s often the one being asked for advice and opinion on some of the top-dollar cattle in the industry.
As the company purebred rep, Andras’ main role is to work with registered breeders to merchandise cattle and broadcast sales — the details of which comprise more than a 40-hour week, 60,000 miles a year in road travel, extensive frequent-flier miles and cell phone minutes, and often several states a week. It’s not the ideal position for a homebody. From January 2013 to April 2013 he spent 10 nights at home.
Repping is a knowledge- and relationship-based position, and Andras says the most important part of his job is learning about breeders’ programs and goals, understanding their cattle and finding a match for a sale. He assists with marketing, advertising, broadcasting on RFDTV and Rural TV, and basically “doing as much as I can to showcase these guys and their cattle to the world.”
For most of his purebred customers, Andras visits the operation at least three times: once in the summer to review cattle and learn about their program, back again to video, and then returning for the sale. With purebred sales, although the cattle are run through the ring live as the auction streams on RFD-TV and Superior Click to Bid, Superior opts to use pre-recorded video, as they would with non-live sales, to ensure the best presentation of the cattle and marketability. He also consigns and films commercial cattle for clients.
Without doubt, Andras says, people are the best part of his job. “My dad always told me, ‘The people and relationships make the cattle industry — the cattle are just a byproduct,’ and that’s so true.”