Cattle Feeders Hall of Fame: An entrepreneurial spirit

Teachers, it is often said, live on forever through their students. Randy Blach learned from some of the best leaders the beef industry could offer; now he's passing his knowledge, integrity and passion for all things beef to the next generation.

Easily one of the cattle and beef industry's most recognizable figures, Blach, CEO of CattleFax, maintains a hectic schedule traveling across the U.S. to deliver the latest cattle market outlook. Producers listen intently as Blach walks them through his analysis of where the market has
been, where it's headed and why. Over the years Blach has delivered countless forecasts, most with uncanny accuracy, which is why producers often scramble to be seated early near the front of the room.

"Randy is known industry-wide as the guy that delivers the market outlook," says Ken Stielow, a Paradise, Kan., rancher. "What they don't know is that Randy is so much more than that. He's a tremendous businessman whose management skills have taken CattleFax to new heights."

Stielow and dozens of other
cattlemen regularly witnessed Blach's leadership skills through their time serving on the CattleFax board of directors. That's where Blach says he was "fortunate to rub elbows with some of the best thinkers and business leaders from all segments of the industry. Those people made a huge impact on me."

As testament to his passion and commitment, Blach is the recipient of the 2016 Industry Leadership Award from the Cattle Feeders Hall of Fame. But he's quick to recognize the people who helped and influenced his career—cattlemen, CattleFax colleagues and a large family.

Born and raised on a ranch near Yuma, Colo., Blach says the "greatest gift my parents gave me was their work ethic."

The Blach family settled in the Yuma area in 1887 where they were involved in farming and ranching. Randy is the eighth of nine children born to Perry and Teresa Blach, and he remains actively involved in all aspects of the family operation.

After graduating from Colorado State University, Blach was hired by CattleFax in the fall of 1980 and went to work full time in January 1981 as an analyst trainee before becoming a Regional Market Analyst.

"When I started, I thought I'd work for CattleFax for a couple of years to gain knowledge and experience," Blach says. "Our family operation did not have a lot of market expertise and I hoped to change that."

Blach delivered market expertise back to his family operation, but he never left CattleFax, making it his only employer. "I just fell in love with my work," Blach says. "The good Lord put me where I was
supposed to be."

In 1985 he was promoted to Director of Market Analysis, a position he held for 15 years until the retirement of his friend and mentor Topper Thorpe. In 2001, Blach was named executive vice president.

His role at CattleFax, includes more than just analyzing the cattle and grain markets, though those tasks are crucial. He also serves in various capacities on important industry projects dealing with cash and futures markets, quality audits and numerous long range and
strategic plans.

Such roles have helped the beef industry develop relationships and credibility with "end-users responsible for presenting our products to consumers," says John Butler, Beef Marketing Group CEO and co-chair of the Beef Industry Long Range Planning Task Force. "His ability to provide critical insight into industry direction has proven to be very valuable to the entire beef value chain."

"I may work for a member-owned market analysis group, but I've always considered myself an entrepreneur," Blach says. "We are always looking for new ways to slice and dice data so we can create more decision-friendly information and tools that can help producers be successful."

His entrepreneurial spirit led Blach to champion the cause of hiring and retaining the best and the brightest for the CattleFax staff.

"Randy has made CattleFax into a powerhouse of service to the cattle industry," says Lee Borck, CEO of Innovative Livestock Services, Manhattan, Kan., also a former CattleFax board member.

"I've had the opportunity to hire a lot of bright people," Blach says, "and nearly all of them came with better skill sets than I have. When you do that you are going to lose some of those people to other businesses and organizations." CattleFax has trained many talented people in the agriculture industry.

When CattleFax saw an employee turnover rate that was too high, "we designed programs that have made us more competitive," Blach says. "We have a staff of self-motivated individuals who like to be pushed. We've given them some skin-in-the-game and they respond to that."

The result has been a significant reduction in turnover and greater employee satisfaction, a further testament to Blach's leadership.

"Randy is one of the most respected voices in the industry regarding the cattle and beef markets," says Kendall Frazier, National Cattlemen's Beef Association CEO. "He is also a man of high integrity and a dedicated
servant to the Cattle Fax members."

Borck says Blach's "business-like approach and the fact his ideas are data driven, in a way few others can match, set him apart from the rest of us. His personality is infectious and his smile will open the door to even the few nonbelievers who exist."

In addition to his highly visible role at CattleFax, Blach has served on various committees at Colorado State University (CSU) in the
College of Agriculture and the Department of Athletics. Blach was awarded the Honor Alumni Award from the CSU College of Agricultural Sciences in 2004 and the Livestock Leader Award in 2011. He has also served as a director for the National Western Stock Show for 15 years, a member of the Junior Sale Committee for nearly 20 years and currently sits on the Executive Livestock Committee.

Randy and his wife of 31 years, Karen, are active in their Catholic Parish. Their son, Ty, is a Creighton University graduate and is now playing baseball for the San Francisco Giants. Their daughter, Haylee, is a recent graduate of Regis Jesuit High School and will attend Creighton University and play soccer.