TORRINGTON – The 2022 World Livestock Auctioneer Champion (WLAC), Will Epperly, made an appearance as the guest auctioneer at the Torrington Livestock Market on Wednesday as part of his tour around the country after winning the title in June.
Torrington Livestock Market Co-Owner Lex Madden said, “it’s an honor to have Will come back to Torrington as our guest auctioneer for our special Labor Day Auction event, which we host every year with the newest WLAC, showcasing their abilities.”
Epperly added, “Goshen, Torrington – this is one of the places I really wanted to come back to as an auctioneer after winning the title, and I’m really honored to be here.”
Adding, “Lex has been a phenomenal mentor and great at teaching me the tricks of the trade.”
Epperly, who is originally from Moneta, Virginia and currently resides in Dunlap, Iowa, got his start around the age of 9 while working for his grandfather and family in Virginia.
“I’m mostly self-taught – I told my grandfather one day I wanted to be an auctioneer and he sort of made it happen,” Epperly explained. “And since then, I’ve developed my own style to set me apart from others – so that people can distinctly say, ‘Oh, that’s Epperly’ and not another auctioneer.”
Adding, “My grandfather told me, when I was about 9 years old, that I would be a World Livestock Auctioneer Champion,” Epperly said as he beamed. “I think the old man is dancing with joy and happiness up there watching me achieve that dream.”
When asked how he developed his own style to be able to win the WLAC title, Epperly said, “I listened to 1974 WLAC Ralph Wade, 2007 WLAC Trent Stewart and 2008 WLAC Matt Lowery to sort of make my own style and voice – I wanted it to be my own distinct voice, but I learned, from what I say, is the best of the best in the industry.”
The 34-year-old is married to his wife Ally, and together they have a two-year-old son named Zeke.
“Well, I hope they get to start traveling with me here soon – I would love to have them on the road with me, and I’m sure my wife and son would also love to travel around the country with me as I make my various stops,” Epperly said.
Epperly also stated that he has a bit of a competition going on with last year’s winner, Chuck Bradley, to “put on as many miles as we can, but more than Chuck as we tour around the country as the WLAC and guest auctioneer.”
“Chuck put in about 52 thousand miles on the championship bus – I want to beat that as we have a little bit of a friendly competition going on,” Epperly added.
As of right now, he said he has between 40 to 50 auctions and stops set up – but anticipates that will grow as word spreads of his winning.
The 58th annual WLAC competition was held at Shipshewana Auction & Trading Place, Shipshewana, Ind., which was presented by the Livestock Marketing Association (LMA) from June 9-11, and it was Epperly’s 12th year competing for the title. Prior to winning the championship title earlier this summer, Epperly had placed third in 2017, 2019 and 2021; the highest placement he had before this year.
When asked what he would say to his young son, children thinking about becoming an auctioneer and/or those who would seek to be mentored by him, Epperly said, “Open your eyes and listen, learn what you can from others in the industry – even those from years ago.”
“Don’t just be an auctioneer – go out back and help with the cattle, go into the communities and talk to the residents and cattlemen,” Epperly explained. “Do as many other things that involve the industry as you possibly can to understand how to be a better auctioneer – but don’t just be the ‘man behind the mic’, because then you miss the point of what it means to be an auctioneer.”
Adding, “but above all, hardwork and dedication is key – find yourself a mentor where you live and learn from them the best practices.”
Epperly spoke highly of his local mentor, Lex Madden, Co-owner at the Torrington Livestock Markets and 1998 WLAC, whose brother and former co-owner Shawn Madden was the 2001 WLAC.
“Lex is a great mentor and has been for the last roughly 15 years,” Epperly said. “He has helped me, encouraged me and taught me how to refine my craft – so of course, Torrington was among the first stops I wanted to make, and it is an honor to be in the house of my mentor to guest auction during this special Labor Day event.”
Madden explained Wednesday’s event at the Torrington Livestock Markets was its 33rd Annual Labor Day Live Livestock sale event – each year held the week following Labor Day, which sold more than 6,500 cattle throughout the day.
“WLAC is a sponsored LNA event of which we host our Labor Day event every year around Labor Day, usually after the holiday, to showcase the best Auctioneer and the new WLAC winner – at true cost.”
“We have sellers from Wyoming, Montana, Utah, Nebraska, Colorado, Idaho and South Dakota here today selling to individuals here in person, on the phone and via online,” Madden explained. “We also have buyers in person, on the phone and via online from Wyoming, Nebraska, South Dakota, Iowa, Kansas, Texas and Oklahoma.”
A shared sentiment between the 1998 WLAC winner, mentor and this year’s WLAC winner – is that both men believe auctions should be in the spirit of “true competitive pricing and costs to customers for buyers and clients – so that people know they can trust us when they come here to auction off cattle,” Madden explained.
“We believe in true price discovery, and that is what the live auction is about and what we do here during every sale with adhering to true, competitive pricing for our sellers and buyers,” Madden added.
Epperly added, “true competitive pricing is part of the job as an auctioneer – we have to know what it is we are selling, what the value is and understand what our job is to both our clients, the sellers and buyers – which is why I believe part of my job as an auctioneer is to know the cattle industry on the backend also.”
Wednesday’s auction brought in roughly 10,000 customers from around the nation through various means such as in-person, online using Cattle USA, on the phones and via email listings.
“To be an auctioneer and the WLAC is a dream come true for me – and I’m very much looking forward to hitting the road and learning about the different markets better and meeting the men and women who make this industry happen,” Epperly said.
When asked what it felt like to win the title, Epperly explained, “it was an incredibly powerful moment – and initially, I thought to myself, ‘this can’t be real,’ and eventually the emotions came over me like a flood, and I was just excited and nervous for the upcoming year. But really, I want to make sure I represent the Livestock Marketing Association in the best way possible.”