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Auctioneering Titleist Heading To Ontario To Judge Canadian Livestock Auctioneer Championship

Livestock Market Association of Canada’s (LMAC) Canadian Livestock Auctioneer Champion of 2023 and Vermilion Livestock Exchange Manager Jesse Lawes. Photo submitted

Vermilion Livestock Exchange Manager Jesse Lawes is heading to Waterloo, Ontario on May 24 to sit as a judge for the Livestock Market Association of Canada’s (LMAC) Canadian Livestock Auctioneer Championship.

Lawes has competed in the event three times, earning the championship title in Olds, Alberta in 2023. As the most recent title holder, Lawes is not eligible to compete in the national championship this year but hopes to compete in the international auctioneering championship held at the Calgary Stampede, where he placed fourth last summer.

Lawes grew up around auction markets and comes by his talent honestly. His grandfather Jack was an auctioneer in the Lloydminster area and purchased the Provost Livestock Exchange in 1974. The whole family became involved: Lawes’ father ran the auctions while his mother worked as the office manager. He and his siblings were there before and after school most days, attending sales and listening to auctioneers.

After high school, Lawes toured the pro rodeo circuit, competing internationally in steer wrestling. He would practice his auctioneering skills on the long drives between rodeos, often to the chagrin of his travelling partners.

Lawes attended the Western College of Auctioneering in Billings, Montana, in 2010 alongside his brother, Casey. He then attended Lakeland College in Vermilion and Lloydminster, graduating with a diploma in business administration in 2013.

Lawes returned home to work at the auction mart in Provost, and began selling more often in 2014. With the encouragement of other auctioneers, he attended his first competition in 2019. He credits his success with the support and guidance he received from the farming community, as well as the feedback he received from professionals in competitions.

In June of 2023, the Lawes family purchased the Vermilion Livestock Exchange, where Lawes has been working as manager ever since. The family still owns and operates the Provost Livestock Exchange, and crews from each location help support each other on busy sale days. Lawes has been spending time trying to meet people, be a part of the community, and build relationships with farmers and ranchers out here.

Lawes says one of the biggest challenges of auctioneering is trying to track the market and the values of the livestock because there are so many different classes and the price fluctuates, changing literally every minute. He explains that you really have to follow the market to make sure you’re selling at fair market value, whether doing online sales, direct sales, or having cattle go through the ring. Producers trust him because of his commitment to true price discovery.

Lawes’ favourite thing about auctioneering is the fast pace of the auctioneer and the auction method of marketing. “You kind of get a connection with the buyers and it’s kind of an adrenaline thing. I just really enjoy auctioneering and it’s a really good way to sell a lot of cattle in a short amount of time,” he says. “I really enjoy connecting with the producers and the ranchers and seeing everybody’s different ideas; seeing everybody’s programs and what they do to make it work. There are lots of different ways to do it.”

Lawes’ two-year-old son Westin appears to be tracing his father’s footsteps, following him around the livestock exchanges, not afraid to pick up a mic. To other fledgling auctioneers, Lawes recommends finding an auctioneer you like and building a relationship with them. “There are tons of veteran auctioneers around that are happy to mentor guys and help them along and give them pointers,” he says. “The first thing is to go to auctioneering school and get that foundation, then spend lots of time practicing,” he continues. “It’ll come, it just takes a lot of time—it’s not something you can learn from a textbook. It takes a lot of experience and practice and trial and error—just keep doing it.”

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