New owners at Paris Livestock Auction, 3320 Highway 82, east of Reno, are gearing up for the busiest time of the year when large and small producers alike bring stocker-ready steers to market while they cull and replenish herds for another breeding season.
Lamar County natives Mark Nations and Gil Flautt V purchased the business from brothers Kirby and Rickey Hill in early August.
Nations, the son of B.D. and the late Pat Nations, grew up in Blossom and graduated from Prairiland High School. He has been in the farming and ranching business since high school. The rancher also owned M&M Food Mart in Pattonville for many years. He is married to Julia Nations. Together, the couple has five children and nine grandchildren.
Flautt, the son of DeeDee and the late Gil Flautt IV, grew up in Novice and attended North Lamar schools, graduating from North Lamar High School in 2009. He then attended Sam Houston State University in Huntsville where he earned a degree in agricultural business and returned home to the Flautt ranch to raise cattle and bale hay.
A close friend of Flautt’s father, Nations said he was there the day “Gilly” was born, was best man at his wedding when he married his wife, Celeste Flautt, and that the two of them have been in business together “one way or another” for years.
“We’ve been talking about going into business big time, so when this became available we jumped in,” Nations said. “Our wives are working alongside us so it’s definitely a family business.”
Five weeks into selling cattle at auction, Flautt said the inventory is picking up on a weekly basis.
“I think some of it is because we are doing a good job,” Flautt said. “But some of it is because of the time of year. Between September and February is usually the busiest time at cattle auctions.”
When asked why he believes Paris Livestock Auction will grow, Flautt said because he and Nations are in the cattle business themselves and are in the same position as every other farmer or rancher, he believes a sense of trust is developing quite rapidly.
“Our whole idea when we started this is that everybody has to do good — not just the buyer, or the seller of the sale barn owner — but everybody,” Flautt said. “In this business we have to rely on each other.”
“We just want to be fair and honest with everybody because we were brought up that way,” Nations said.
Flautt said buyers from a 200-mile radius regularly attend a week sale that begins at noon each Wednesday.
“We have a really good set of buyers who appreciate that we have their cattle ready to go when the sale is over,” Flautt said, explaining that each buyer, large or small, has a pen where cattle go after passing through the sale ring. “Some of our larger buyers have the same pens every week.
The barn currently accommodates up to 1,800 head of cattle with the average sale running about 720 head. Auctioneer Kirby Hill sells about 100 head an hour. The auditorium seats 187 with room to expand, Flautt said.
The owners complimented the staff of about 20 workers who take care of cattle in the pens and made special mention of Justin Hill, who takes care of cattle as they come in and during the sale.
“Justin is a huge asset to this operation,” Flautt said. “He goes above and beyond several days a week to make sure cattle have hay and water and to make sure everything is moving on sale day.
Flautt described office worker Nikki Bishop as “our sale barn hero.” She has been at the auction barn for the past four years.
Looking toward the future, Flautt said the market has been in a trough for the last seven to 10 years in what is usually a seven- to 10-year cycle.
“So it’s about to get better, but we have been waiting on that for the last two years,” Flautt said. “There’s a lot of cows coming to town; a lot of good, natural beef coming to town. We want to help people get it here and get it delivered to wherever it needs to go.”