5 questions with ... Shayne Vandivort, co-owner of Western Ranch Supply in Billings and Great Falls, Mont.
Q: What is your role in agriculture?
I am an owner of a ranch supply business, Western Ranch Supply, with Keith Robinson and Rob Erickson. In my eyes the ranchers and farmers are the ones that have huge roles in agriculture. They are the ones putting food on our tables. Our role would be to have expertise in the products we sell to help the rancher with his decision as to what products to use for the health and well being of his herd.
Q: How has agriculture shaped your life?
The biggest thing agriculture has done to shape my life is teach me a work ethic. I wouldn't be where I am today without it. Up early, to bed late, seven days a week. 4-H and FFA were also a very big part of my life and today, my kids are both in 4-H and FFA. The only way I knew to instill this same hard work ethic in my kids was to get them involved in these two great organizations. Both my children show hogs and lambs and have chores to do. They must get up early in the morning to feed and work with their projects. It's so much better than playing video games and sitting in the house watching TV.
Q: How has serving the ag industry changed during your years in ag business?
I started at Western Ranch Supply back in 1991. Our service has not changed much from then until today. We don't hand write our sales tickets today like we did back in 1991, which was a huge change. Computers and barcodes have made life much easier at the sales counters. We still have seven road salesman that travel all of Montana, north central Wyoming and western North Dakota. I will say our salesmen deliver a lot more product today versus when I was a road salesman back in the '90s. Another big change for us is the internet. We just got our new website up and going. Check us out at www.westernranchsupply.com.
Q: What is the biggest challenge facing your business?
The biggest challenge facing our business is finding and keeping good people. We are very blessed to have a great crew and staff. Our business is directly correlated to the rancher. When calf prices are up, life is good. When prices are down, we definitely feel it.
Q: How is your business preparing for the future?
We just built a new store back in June 2013 here in Billings. What a great decision for us. Our business is doing great with our new location right off the interstate with a huge parking lot. I love it when there are gooseneck trailers all over the parking lot. Going forward, the internet will be huge for us, allowing us to reach a larger audience and hopefully sell more product. The three of us like to dream, so more stores in the future is a possibility as well. We now have three locations — two in Billings and one in Great Falls.
Shayne Vandivort and his wife, Rosanne, have two children Holden (20) and Kendal (13). Western Ranch was started back in the 1950s by Ray Frank. Frank sold the business to Vandivort, Keith Robinson and Rob Erickson in 1998, and they are still best friends today.