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Three recipients named 2016 OCA Friend of the Expo

MARYSVILLE, OH -- The Ohio Cattlemen’s Association (OCA) awarded Bill Sexten, Lou Ellen Harr, and M.H. Eby with the Friend of the Expo Award at the Ohio Beef Expo, held March 18-20 at the Ohio Expo Center. Each year, dedicated volunteers spend countless hours ensuring the success of the Expo. In an effort to show OCA’s sincere appreciation for those who have dedicated themselves over the years, the Ohio Beef Expo Planning Committee presents the Friend of the Expo award to worthy recipients who have contributed to the success of the past 29 years of the Expo.

Bill Sexten is truly an excellent recipient of the Friend of the Expo Award. Bill grew up on the family farm where they raised corn, beans, hay and cattle. He currently resides in Washington Court House, where he manages a cow-calf operation. Bill has been heavily involved with OCA and the Ohio Beef Expo. Bill served as president of OCA from 2005 to 2006, chairman of the Ohio Beef Council and is currently the Regional Vice President of NCBA.

Bill has helped with the Expo for over 16 years, including being on various committees after he began on the Jr. Show committee. Bill served as Vice Chair of the Expo from 2011 to 2015, where he helped lead it into tremendous growth. Throughout his time, Bill has witnessed many changes at the Expo. He mentioned that trade show, breed sales and youth participation continues to grow each year. “It’s a well-run show and well-run sales and people want to be a part of it,” Bill said.

Another area that continues to grow exceptionally well is the number of cattle at the event. “We have more cattle at our expo than other states have at their state fairs. It’s a premier event,” Bill said. Bill humbly credited the success of the Expo to the help of many volunteers and people behind the scenes.

Bill’s favorite part of the Expo is the participation of many people involved in the beef industry. “I enjoy seeing the kids’ participation in the Expo as they learn more about the business and the breeds, and I’m really proud of the trade show,” Bill said.

Lou Ellen Harr is a very deserving recipient of the Friend of the Expo Award. Lou Ellen grew up in the cattle business in Missouri. She received her Master’s Degree in Animal Science from Kansas State University. After college, Lou Ellen managed farms in Ohio and Virginia before she began a custom fitting business with her husband. Currently, Lou Ellen and her husband have their own cow herd and raise Herefords.

Lou Ellen has been actively involved in every Expo since 1989. She began attending the Expo while working at Big T Ranch in Jeromesville, OH. She now brings cattle to sell at the Hereford sale and also does custom fitting at the Expo. Lou Ellen has witnessed many aspects of the expo change, including the trade show, as the event continues to grow bigger every year.

When asked about her favorite part of the Expo, Lou Ellen quickly responded with seeing friends from across all of the breeds. “The expo is a great event for small breeders to showcase cattle in an all breeds venue. Quite poss ibly the biggest audience most people will ever have in Ohio,” Lou Ellen said.

M.H. Eby is unlike any other recipient of the Friend of the Expo Award. This family owned business has been involved with the Expo through sponsorships of various events and involvement in the trade show since the beginning. “We are very grateful for the relationship with Ohio Cattlemen’s Association,” said Kirk Swensen, Regional Sales Manager.

An area that Eby capitalizes on while at the Expo is receiving customer feedback for product recommendations. It is also a great opportunity for Eby to visit with past customers and continue to build relationships.

The Expo also allows Eby staff to interact with others in the agriculture industry. The employees at M.H. Eby find it crucial to continue to tell the story of agriculture at events such as the Expo. During these events, employees are given the opportunity to continue to grow and learn more about the industry. This allows the employees to take this new information back into their business and continue to spread it to others. A major reason why Eby continues to come back to the Expo is the new information and demonstrations that are at each event.

When asked what an employee’s favorite part of the expo was, the response was the cattle sales. The cattle sales offer a great opportunity for Eby to catch up with old friends, new customers and are in general the busiest time of the Expo for the company.

Travis Eby, current owner of M.H. Eby, said, “We have enjoyed witnessing the devotion of Ohio’s cattle families coming back to the Ohio Beef Expo year after year. To be just one of the participants in Ohio’s robust beef industry after all of these years is a tribute to everyone involved.”

M.H. Eby Inc. is a third generation family owned business that began in 1938. The company headquarters is in Blue Ball, PA and they operate four manufacturing facilities, six sales and service locations and have several dealerships throughout the United States and Canada. The facility in West Jefferson, OH opened in 1989 and manufactures a majority of the gooseneck and bumper pull livestock trailers that they produce.