2017 Arturo Armendariz Distinguished Service Award winner
Feedyard managers roll the dice every time they hire a crew member. Many new hires never work out and do not last long. Every now and then, though, they strike gold with an employee who becomes an indispensable asset to the operation.
Such is the case with Eulogio “Lohill” Dimas, who, following his parents and other family members, emigrated from Aguascalientes, Mexico and signed on at Mid America Feed Yard, near Ohiowa, Neb., in 1979. Beginning his career with little to no feedyard experience, Lohil worked hard, learned virtually every job on the operation and became assistant manager.
In 1991, Dimas moved to Southwest Feeders, near Hayes Center, Neb., where he quickly advanced to the position of production manager, supervising the animal health and feeding programs. He’s been there ever since and so have several of the feedyard’s crew members who started around the same time.
Allen Sippel, DVM, who serves as the consulting veterinarian for Southwest Feeders, has known the Dimas family for nearly four decades and says the entire family sets an example for the immigrant experience in the U.S. Sippel was a co-owner of the Mid America operation back in the 1970s when, he says, “Lohill’s father came in off the highway, looking for work, with nothing but the clothes on his back and the shoes on his feet.” The operation needed help, so they hired him, helped him acquire some clothing and set him up with basic housing in a trailer. Soon his wife and several other family members, including Lohill, signed on at the feedyard.
In those early days, Sippel recalls, after putting in a full day of work, Dimas took classes, studied and drove to Denver and back on a regular basis to secure immigrant documentation and eventually earn U.S. citizenship. He’s done everything right, Sippel says, and exemplifies a model citizen, family man and member of the local community.
“He didn’t have any shortcuts; he’s worked hard for everything he has,” Sippel says. Today, his son serves as a police officer, one daughter is a business executive and the other daughter teaches English as a second language in public schools. Sippel, who nominated Dimas for the Arturo Armendariz Distinguished Service Award, says the award reflects on the entire Dimas family. “They all help and support each other.”
For his part, Dimas credits his long relationship with Sippel for much of his success in cattle feeding. “Everything I know about cattle, I learned from him,” he says.
Working on feedyards for 38 years, Dimas has seen dramatic changes in how they operate. Animal health stands out as an area of improvement, he says, as he’s experienced the evolution of veterinary products for treatment and prevention of disease. Today’s cattle antibiotics work faster, last longer and are considerably more effective than those from the 1980s, he says. He’s also watched the trend toward feeding cattle to heavier weights. Back in the 1980s, he says, the feedyard would ship 1,200-lb. steers and the packers complained they were too big. Today, packers hardly blink an eye at 1,500-lb. finished cattle, a trend that’s changed feedyard practices.
He’s also adapted to the explosion of electronic technology in cattle feeding. When he started, all cattle identification, health records, feed calls, performance data and financial information were recorded and filed on paper pads. Today, crews rely on integrated computer systems for virtually all records and management decisions, and Dimas continues to learn and stay current.
“Whenever I am away from the feedyard, I have full confidence that it will be run efficiently in my absence,” says Alan Messinger, owner and general manager of Southwest Feeders. “Soon after Lohill started as a pen rider, we quickly realized he had a greater knowledge of doctoring cattle and moved him up the ladder rapidly.” He learned every procedure and now runs all the outside operations on the feedyard.
Messinger says two of Lohill’s brothers followed him to Southwest Feeders, and one now serves as head of the feed crew while the other leads the maintenance crew. More recently, three of Lohill’s nephews have joined the staff.
Dimas supervises around 20 people on the feeding and health crews, and says every day is different. Many of the crew members have worked at Southwest, and with Dimas, for years. Several came on board with him in 1991. He credits the low turnover rate to good treatment from Messinger, but Sippel says much of the credit, in fact, belongs to Dimas.
The crew members love working for him, Sippel says. He’s kind and fair and sets an example by working harder than anyone else in the operation. The value of that loyalty is difficult to measure, Sippel adds, as feedyards typically struggle to find, train and retain good employees, at considerable financial cost and loss of productivity.
“Not only has Lohill succeed at the feedlot level, he is well respected and well liked within the local community,” Messinger says. “He and his wife, Maggie, have contributed a lot to the town and people of Hayes Center. They are compassionate and willing to help out in the community whenever it is called for.”
“Lohill’s passion is to improve the welfare of the cattle under his care and ensure the success of his crew,” Sippel says. “Seven days a week, he is hard at work, overseeing the cattle and crew with pride and devotion. Those who know him best describe him as a devoted cattleman and family man, and an irreplaceable asset to his community and the cattle industry.”
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