BEEF EMPIRE DAYS: Likes to serve as BED parade marshal

5/29/2014

Likes to serve as BED parade marshal

Likes to serve as BED parade marshal

By ASHLEY BOOKER

abooker@gctelegram.com

In representing the promotion of beef and all of his accomplishments, Thomas "Dee" Likes will be leading the American State Bank Beef Empire Days Parade down Main Street as parade marshal when the event starts at 10:30 a.m. June 7.

Likes was born in Emporia and raised around Burlington. After a tour of duty in the U.S. Navy starting when he was 19, Likes went to Kansas State University and graduated with a bachelor's degree in animal science when he was 26, then worked at a large ranching organization for about a year before working for CattleFax in 1974. He moved on to work for the Kansas Livestock Association in 1976.

"My infatuation with the lobbying and the economics of the cattle industry led me to a position with KLA in the summer of 1976 — 38 years ago," said Likes, vice president and CEO of KLA.

Likes says its humbling to know that he's been a part of KLA, which started in 1924, for more than one-third of its existence. He says he's been able to enjoy everything he does at KLA with the help of great leaders, mentors and employees, and that many days don't feel like work.

"I've been very fortunate to have been able to have all this fun, make all these great acquaintances, and make long-time friendships and get paid at the same time. That's what I call success," Likes said.

Likes didn't always feel this way about his job.

Likes remembers a time when he was thinking about leaving the ranch he had worked at for about a year, and switching gears to a sit-down job at CattleFax. When looking out the window at his horse, Likes asked one of his mentors if he thought he would be capable of such a job.

"I remember having doubt and expressing it to him to see if I was really cut out to sit behind a desk and be in an office," Likes said. "He said, 'I'm looking at your college transcript, and I think you can do this.'"

And so he went.

Despite leaving CattleFax, Likes has always been a proud CattleFax alum, and still believes deeply in the organization that since its founding has been in close relationships with KLA.

"Ironically, I've been serving a lot of the same people that I've worked with at K-State, people that I went to college with and were clients when I was a CattleFax analyst, and I'm still working with them all these years later," Likes said.

Both K-State and KLA have had a large impact on Beef Empire Days, since the beginning.

"KLA is a proud supporter of Beef Empire Days, and I am very humbled and honored to be chosen as the parade marshal," Likes said.

Ray Purdy, executive officio board member of the BED board, was associated in picking the parade marshal and said being asked to be parade marshal is a recognition of an individual in the promotion of beef.

"Dee has been associated with Beef Empire Days for a long time, nearly 30 years," Purdy said.

Beef Empire Days for Likes represents all the pioneers of the beef industry — leaders that opened up the rest of his carer — and the path that he is still following today with his wife, Terri, right beside him.

"I'm going to have my spouse with me — Terri, my spouse and my best friend," Likes said. "I accepted (the invitation of parade marshal) on the condition that she would be with me because I want her right beside me every minute of every day if I can do it."

Likes is looking forward to not only the parade this year, but also many festivities that Beef Empire Days puts on, especially the rodeo, an arena that is dear to his heart because he won the 1972 bareback riding competition for K-State in the college rodeo there.

Likes also is looking forward to seeing familiar faces in the cattle feeding industry.

"There are so many people I'm looking forward to seeing," Likes said. "I've got a lot of friends in the Western Kansas/High Plains cattle feeding area. It'd be really great if I could see them all."

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