What is your story?
I grew up on a farm near Shelby, Neb., helping my dad raise row crops and showing cattle in 4-H. After graduation I attended auctioneer school in Mason City, Iowa. Then started college at SCC-Beatrice and graduated with a Associates degree in Agribusiness. After that I worked for a ranch in Burwell, Neb., for a couple months, then moved back home and started working at a feedlot near Platte Center, NE. Even though I was familiar with the feedlot industry, this is when I first started gaining real interest in feedlots. This is how my shade concept developed and has continued to evolve over time. Eventually I started thinking I wanted more, so I decided to attend UNL and earn my Bachelors degree. Today, I couldn't be more thankful for the opportunities that UNL and Paul Engler have given me to light the fire in my belly and reach the goal I've been trying to attain for awhile now.
What is your business?
Valley Livestock Systems. My business is to provide shade and windbreak systems that I have designed for feedlots across the Midwest and U.S. It is a new and automated system that has limited labor management.
Who is your entrepreneurial inspiration OR biggest hero?
My biggest hero would have to be my late Grandpa Larry Augustin. He started his own business back in the late 70's as an order buyer for feedlots around Nebraska. He would travel all over the Midwest buying feeder cattle for his customers ranging from Oklahoma City, OK, and out to Torrington, WY, putting nearly 500,000 miles on his vehicles year in and year out. Not everyone can do what he did for several decades. He is a person that I want to reflect, because he put in countless hours on the road and his determination to keep the business running through the hard years in the cattle industry just made him that more determined to succeed.
If your story were made into a movie, what actor/actress would portray you and why?
If I didn't say John Wayne I would be lying to myself and everyone else. I say John Wayne, because he was a simple man, demanded respect and also gave it when needed. He was a man that lived by a code and John Wayne was a just a true gentleman.
What advice would you give to a student starting their entrepreneurial journey?
There will be times when you doubt yourself and your ability to get to your goal, but you can't let that stop you because when it's all said and done you'll look back and thank yourself for not giving up. Also, make sure to surround yourself with people who have the same drive, determination, and common interests, because if you think you can do it by yourself that would be a mistake. You will need people on your team to give you a different perspective on ideas, because two minds are greater than one.