PRATT — For a time Thursday, the rapid-fire sound of the auctioneer at the Pratt Livestock sale barn gave way to a special presentation honoring Mike Lewis, former owner of Pratt Livestock and marketing expert, as he was inducted into the 2019 Cattle Marketing Hall of Fame.
This was the inauguration of the award and Lewis was one of four in the first class of inductees. Also inducted were Bill Griffeth and Tom Gilliam, both of Oklahoma City and the late Patrick Goggins, of Billings, Montana. Each inductee received a metal plaque with the 'name and a general statement about why the recipients are important to the livestock industry
Lewis, now 80, began his career in the livestock industry early in life. Lewis started working with his father, Buck Lewis, at his cattle auction, Kinsley Livestock, at age 9.
Russell Wilkey and E.H. Snyder owned Pratt Livestock then purchased Kinsley Livestock from Buck Lewis. They got to know Mike who helped unload the first load of cattle at the current Pratt Livestock facility east of Pratt. It was built in 1962. Russell took sole ownership of Pratt Livestock in 1964 and made Mike manager, said Bob Wilkey, Pratt Livestock office manager and son of Russell Wilkey.
Lewis and Bob Wilkey formed a partnership. In 1979, they leased Pratt Livestock from the Wilkey family, and in 1987, the two men purchased the auction.
Over the years, Lewis developed a philosophy that the customer always came first and profit would come later. He impacted lives all over the state and his heart was in what he did for his customers.
“Without them, we have nothing,” Wilkey said.
Lewis worked hard for the buyer and seller. He strove to get the most for the cattle and to satisfy everybody.
“The benefits would come later. That’s how he builds his customer base,” Wilkey said. “He stuck to it.”
Wilkey learned much from Lewis who took on Wilkey as a 20-year-old helper and taught him the business.
“He’s a good man,” Wilkey said.
Ten years ago, Winter Livestock purchased Pratt Livestock but kept the name. Owner Mark Winter said Lewis is an icon in the livestock industry.
“He (Lewis) has spent his life fighting for our local farmers and ranchers,” Winter said. “He is well-deserving of this honor.”
Dustin Focht, an auctioneer at Pratt Livestock, presented the awards at the ceremony. Focht said customer service and satisfaction were always Lewis’ concern and he had touched thousands of lives.
Shawna Schneider, Lewis’ daughter who received the plaque for her father, said the award was well-deserved. Lewis was injured earlier in the week and could not be present to accept his award.
“He’s the epitome of a true cattleman who led with honesty and integrity,” she said.