A builder of Men
The epitaph on his head stone, it was also his lifeís work. Not necessarily by design, but as a result of his own commitment to do all things to the best of his ability and to expect the same of others.
The man was Robert (Bob) Gottsch, Sr., the founder of Gottsch Cattle Company. Today, his sons continue to operate and expand what has become one of the countryís leading cattle production organizations with ranches, conventional and custom feed yards, commodity trading and other related businesses. Itís a sharp contrast to his roots in the industry.
Born in Kennard, Nebr., his own father had fed cattle and hogs until the family farm was lost to the bank during the Great Depression. With nothing left but a horse, a hayrack wagon, his wife and eight children, the family headed to Elkhorn, where Bobís father went to work at a dairy farm, milking cows for half the milk.
A man of his time
By the time the allies were making a final push into Germany toward the end of World War II, Bob Gottsch, Sr. was with them, having volunteered for the U.S. Army. He was stationed at Nuremberg and served as an M.P.
Returning home with $3,000 he had saved, Gottsch bought a service station business with his brother, the Gottsch Brothers Transfer and Oil Company. The two made runs to Oklahoma to get oil. They also operated a grain shelling business. In addition, he fed a few cattle of his own from the back of a pickup truck.
By 1956, Gottsch had a good contract from a large Omaha cattle feeder, leased an empty feedlot and began feeding about 2,000 head of cattle on his own with a pair of horses and a wagon.
In 1957, Gottsch bought the lot he was leasing and over time expanded to 8,000 head. He made his move into big operations in 1975, buying a half-interest in the 42,000-head Juniata Feed Yard. It marked the beginning of what would become a lifelong partnership with Ken Morrison, a man of great integrity. Ultimately, this highly valued relationship led to full ownership of the operation by the Gottsch family.
The Age of Expansion
By the mid-1980s, the business expanded to include his sons, as well as other exceptional leaders who contributed greatly to the companyís continued growth. First came the purchase of the feedlot from the Garden City Co-Op in Deerfield, Kan., in 1984, which was expanded from 20,000 head to 50,000.
As the success of the company grew, so did the opportunity to partner with like-minded cattle people Ė and continue the legacy of this way of life. In 1985, the Gottsch family partnered with rancher and cattle feeder Gerald Timmerman of Timmerman Brothers to operate the Peter Kiewit Foundationís Pawnee Springs Ranch. By 1995, this shared commitment to the ranch brought the opportunity to purchase half of the 85,000-acre operation.
New ideas, techniques and technologies brought new ways of thinking. By 1989, the Gottsch family built the Red Cloud feed yard from the ground up. The facility, which remains on the leading edge in its implementation of modern management practices, has grown from 28,000 to 42,000 head capacity.
The Next Generation
Today, Gottsch Cattle Company continues its commitment to progressive cattle feeding and management practices. The latest technology and equipment, in the hands of some of the best cattle production professionals in the industry continue to yield impressive results.
The company has added additional ranches to expand its backgrounding capabilities and increased capacity of its feed yards. New capabilities, such as custom feeding have become part of the natural extension of the business.
An inherited pioneering spirit continues to drive the family business into new directions as well. Related businesses range from a golf course and commercial and residential development.