By Tim Huether
Brad and Shelly Otte, owners of Martin Livestock Auction and Cafe, have announced the sale of the property to Brian and Dawn Jaeger and Ross and Amy Ringling of Platte, ending 68 years of family ownership. The new owners will take over in early February and will keep the same services offered now, including the cafe.
The first sale barn in Martin was called Martin Livestock Commission Company and started in 1951 by Shelly Otte’s grandfather, William (Bill) Porch, and several other local men.
After Bill passed away in 1982, Shelly’s dad, Billy Porch, continued operating the business with his wife, Judy, and the name was changed to Martin Auction Company, Inc.
The Porchs built a new building, with the first sale in that building occurring in 1983. Brad has helped sell cattle at the sale barn since 1978. Brad and Shelly were married in 1980.
In 1997, Brad and Shelly purchased the facility and the name was changed to Martin Livestock Auction, Inc. They have operated it for the past 22 years, expanding their business to include handling farm, ranch and household auctions and selling real estate. On sale day, they employ 30-40 people, including many family members.
The sale barn sells up to 30,000 cattle annually with more than $20 million flowing through. Livestock sell on Monday, with a few exceptions due to holidays and the season, and are broadcast over the internet on cattleusa.com.
The Otte’s will continue to handle farm and ranch sales and all kinds of auctions as well as continue to sell real estate and offering online auctions. Brad will stay on for a while at the sale barn to help sell livestock and he will also continue to ranch and be involved in the cattle business.
“This will free me up to help my kids with grandkids, enjoy outside work and finish a lot of projects I started over the years,” offered Shelly when asked about her future plans. “I will continue to be involved with the Martin Area Chamber of Commerce too.”
When asked what triggered the sale, Brad replied, “We were not on the market to sell, but Brian called and asked about the possibility of buying. It went from there and we reached an agreement.”
“We were not just going to sell to anyone,” said Shelly. “It needed to be the right people and these guys fit the mold. They have a livestock background and experience in running a restaurant. We encourage everyone to support them as they are going to be an asset to the community.”
The Ottes have been strong community supporters with Shelly serving as president of the Martin Area Chamber of Commerce and she has also been the treasurer for many years. Shelly has been a supporter of Bennett County athletics as well, attending many events.
Brad has served on the Bennett County Fair Board, Martin City Council including temporary mayor of six months, Bennett County Hospital and Nursing Home Board, and was a director and president on the South Dakota Livestock Auction Market Association Board.
The Ottes were awarded the Bennett County Fair supporter award and Brad was named the Non-Mason of the year in 2003 for Bennett County.
The Ottes also volunteer their auctioneer and clerking skills at many community events.
Brad has also been honored by being asked to judge the World Livestock Auction Contest.
“I will miss the people...visiting with customers, keeping in touch with them and knowing how they are doing,” remarked Shelly. “I’m happy to move on to the next stage, but it is going to be bittersweet.”
“I would like the people to know we really value the relationships we made with buyers, sellers and employees,” said Brad. “We made our very best friends through the business. A lot of the good things that happened to us are because we have had many good employees. Many have been here 30-40 years. Our employees have helped us be as successful as we’ve been and we really value their friendship, skill and hard work.”