Their business is knowing livestock, but the two new owners of the Meridian Livestock attribute their successful first year to knowing people.
Eric Weaver and Moley Herring have increased the number of cattle sold at the facility by building relationships and getting to know their customers as family, they say.
While Monday was Labor Day, the partners and staff served more than 500 meals at the weekly auction to show their customers and suppliers how much their business and relationships mean to them. Also present were 1,100 head of cattle; all of which sold that day.
Moley, of Lucedale, and Weaver, of Newton, purchased the stockyard on Old Highway 80 West in July 2017 after a local group decided to liquidate the property. The original stockyard was located behind the Pilot Truck Stop on 49th Avenue, Meridian. Owners of the truck stop bought the property and the stockyard was shut down.
Working in harmony
Cattleman Ralph Morgan, who operates the Ralph Morgan Rodeo twice annually in Lauderdale, noted the shame if a city the size of Meridian lost its stockyard. His father and other cattlemen had built the original stockyard in 1952 and Morgan said he remembers working there at a young age.
“It started going down for many years, and I’ve known Eric and his family for many years," Morgan said. "I told him one day, 'Eric, looks like you’re going to have to buy this stockyard.' He just grinned.”
Morgan said Weaver and Herring work in harmony.
"I have known Eric, his mother and brother and never heard a cross word said between them," Morgan said. "They are hard workers. Moley is the same way. They are good men who do what they say they will do.
“I’m rooting for them. I have watched the stockyard go from selling 200 cows to over a 1,000 Monday.”
Joe Mosby, owner of Mosby Packing, said his father was another person instrumental in building the stockyard in 1952.
“It is very necessary to have an outlet for cattlemen to sell and buy their cattle,” Mosby said. "They have done a wonderful job. It’s gone from having a 100 head of cattle to 1,000. They do an outstanding job and I’m very, very pleased with it.”
Working with customers
Herring considers his customers as partners.
"Be direct with your customers and offer assistance," Herring said. "We want you to buy what fits your need for the market. People drive anywhere from 130-150 miles or more for our auctions. We had people here Monday from Mississippi, Alabama, Florida and Louisiana.”
Danny Miller, owner of Miller Cattle Company, Inc. in Marion, is a cattle order buyer who sorts and assembles the cattle to ship to owners in the southwest. He appreciates the knowledge Weaver and Herring offer.
“These are two very high class, very experienced and knowledgeable cattlemen who are in tune to local and national cattle owners,” Miller said. “These guys are doing a super job and we are very fortunate to have them doing what they do. They are a high caliber of men.”
Miller also noted that having a successful stockyard helps the local economy. People who attend the auction buy fuel, eat and shop here.
The owners share responsibilities, with Herring covering the southern division and Weaver covering the northern division. They use social media and traditional advertising with radio, TV and newspapers to spread the word.
“The cattle business is not what it use to be,” said Jimmy Jones, of Newton County, a buyer at the stockyard. “You have to get out now and beat the bushes. That’s what Moley and Eric do. They do a good job with a lot of help behind the scenes, including the office staff; Vanessa Williams, office manager, Jennifer Seals and Rachel Covington, in addition to the cooks in the café; Jennifer Seals and Nancy Weaver and the guys working in the back checking the cattle in.”
Darryl Gibbs is the outside field representative.
“Moley and Eric run a family-oriented place; a place you can bring your wife and family,” Jones said. “Each sell begins with a prayer and Pledge of Allegiance. I can assure you the customers come first ... They are all like a part of my family. If someone is in need everybody goes to help.”
Jones recalled having a tire blow-out recently, and not being able to change the tire because of his health.
“I called Eric and he had somebody out there to change it. Now, I know this young man had work to do at the stockyard, but that’s just how they are. They are good Christian people and I’m just proud to be their friends.”
Thanks to God
Herring said getting into the livestock field has given him a brand new life, for which he thanks God.
“In 1987 I was broke, no home, an old rusty truck and I managed to get on at Lucedale Livestock Division and worked there 30 years,” he said.
Herring said he did everything from auctions to whatever else needed to be done.
“We’ve all got God and he’s had his hands in our business there. We offer a good family environment; there’s no trouble there,” Herring said. “If I’ve had a bad day, God stops me in my tracks and puts you on the right path. I love it. I’m happy and I love it.”
Herring and Weaver said they believe the Meridian Livestock is more than a place to market cattle.
“It’s the people who make it and the relationships you build with them. We are like family,” Herring said.
Herring gave an example of a father and son who attended a cattle auction and a preacher gave a benediction and then talked about God and asked for prayers for those they knew were sick or hurting. Within the next day or so, Herring received a call from the boy’s mother. She said her son told her, “Momma, a man got in the ring and talked all about God and prayed and then we stood up and said the Pledge of Allegiance. She told Herring how much it touched her and her son and thanked him for having this at the beginning of the livestock show.
“We have got to get back to the pure things in life,” Herring said. “We are losing Americana. I love to write letters or notes to people who have made a difference in my life or to cheer them up and we’re losing that with our young people.”