Rachael Van Horn
Woodward, Okla. —
Dustin Focht sits tall in his auction block and chants a rhythmic melody, on which the 43-year-old has built a new kind of life for the last 13 years.
It was with the same level of intense purpose he channeled when he entered the profession, that the Stillwater native and second generation bid-caller managed the capture the World Livestock Auctioneer Championship (WLAC) held in Montgomery, Ala., June 15.
Anyone who watches the artist as he performs his trade, can see in the movement of his hands and the sing-song tone in his chant, that this is who he is, not what he does.
Focht was born and reared in Stillwater by his ranching and farming parents. He spent some younger years with his grandpa, Andy Focht, who was a professional Auctioneer all his life, he said.
So, on the face of it, outsiders might see Focht's rise to fame in the world of bid-calling predictable but the truth is, how he ended up here could really be considered a bit of a miracle, he said.
"When I was younger he (his grandfather) was diagnosed with lung cancer and so he started to get out of the business before I understood what it was about," he said. "He started to go down hill when I was in middle school and when I was in high school he died."
After graduating from high school, Focht did what a lot of Stillwater graduates do, he enrolled at Oklahoma State University.
"I got a great job offer in Chicago in advertising and so I didn't finish," he said.
That decision plunked the Oklahoma son squarely in the middle of the other "windy city" and that is where he spent the next eight years, he said.
But something was calling Focht home to the windswept plains, he said.
" I realized I wanted to come home and I knew Gregg Griffith (Oklahoma Auctioneer), " Focht said. "I called him and told him I would like to come home and he, in turn, accepted me with open arms."
Upon his return, another well known auctioneer, Ralph Wade began to teach the bid-calling neophyte just how the art was performed.
After some lessons on a Wednesday and Thursday in how to build a chant and some other basics, Wade, the 1974 recipient of the World Livestock Auctioneer Championship, turned Focht loose selling cattle at the Oklahoma National Stockyards that following Tuesday.
"I was really nervous because I didn't realize I was going to be put in that situation," Focht said. "I couldn't breath and I was sweating...God gives you strength to over come and endure and He really told me and taught me that I had the ability to do it."
Focht credits the values with which he approaches his profession to many in the industry, namely Griffith and Wade who have taught him that one's success in the profession is in direct proportion to the professionalism, integrity and honesty you bring to it.
Now, Focht hopes to simply spend his career doing what he loves, marketing livestock.
He works Woodward Livestock Auction every Tuesday and Friday during owner Jerry Nine's weekly markets and also provides services to Cherokee Sales Co., and Anthony Livestock Sales as well, he said.
His win has offered him the chance to travel throughout the country in the customized 2013 Ford F-150 he won and promote the Livestock Marketing Association and the "incredible role the local livestock markets have in shaping youth," he said.
Focht was sponsored by Cherokee Sales Co., LLC of Cherokee, Woodward Livestock Auction, Inc., and Anthony Livestock Sales Co., of Anthony, Kan.