GARDEN CITY, KS (AP)--From feedyards to the information superhighway.
Six area cattle feeders have created a unique enterprise that will promote the industry and circulate their companies throughout the world.
Cattlefeeding.com, brainchild of Rob Cook, of Brookover Companies, will bring the world to feedyards. The group includes Cook of Brookover, Roy Brown of Cattle Empire, Sublette; Terry Ryan, HRC Feed Yards Inc., Scott City; and Jeff Sternberger, Midwest Feeders Inc.
While some Internet businesses have struggled, Cook said the owners of cattlefeeding.com are not deterred.
"There's a general feeling out there that going into the Internet right now is kind of a bad time to be starting a business," Cook said. "But we've taken the opposite approach. We think not only is it not a bad time, we think it's a great time."
Tom Bendure, contact for cattlefeeding.com, was Cook's sounding board about a year and a half ago when the ideas started coming together and has helped recruit other feedyard owners.
"I thought it was a great idea and started telling people about it, just to try and get a response, and ended up getting this group together," he said.
Cook said the group will grow slowly.
"We want to make sure our site is here in 20 years," Cook said. "We've done it so that our overhead is as low as $1,000 a year. A lot of people start spending money on advertising...and that basically starts a clock running. If you don't start selling massive amounts of stuff, you start losing money."
Cook said the industry was not ready to use the Internet years ago when other industries were jumping on it, but now it is.
"The managers of the feedyards just hadn't adapted, but now we've seen a bigger thrust," he said. "The mission of cattlefeeding.com is to promote the cattle-feed industry. The average age of the cattle feeder right now is 57 years old, so we all, collectively, need to replace our customer base.
"On the second side of it is we struggle as an industry to attract the top kids into cattle feeding. We need to get together and show there are incredible opportunities in the cattle industry."
Another unique facet of the Internet company is that the feedyards are not just selling products, but carrying major purchasing power.
"Collectively, we have a lot of buying power," Cook said. "The whole idea was, why should we go to someone else's platform? Why not make them come to our platform since we have the buying power? People forget we're a huge purchaser of everything from office supplies to tires to trucks, computers and obviously corn, cattle, other commodities. We purchase everything. We purchase soda pop at Wal-Mart."
The site also works as a marketplace for feedyards to act as sellers. Cook said yards can sell anything from trucks to cattle.
"A customer can come on and know that there's going to be a certain amount of cattle listed that is already on a feedyard, like from Brookover or Cattle Empire, that they can purchase," he said.
Membership is $250 a year to be listed on the site and for use of the classified section of the site to buy, sell and post jobs. Each feedyard will have its own page and a link to its own Web site.