MOTLEY, Minn. – Mitch Barthel is ready and excited to take on a new venture. He is the new owner of the Tri County Livestock Auction.
    “As a livestock auctioneer and operating a market, it fits in my plans to do more of the same sales and keep the tradition at Tri County going,” Barthel said.
    At the beginning of September, Barthel purchased Tri County Livestock Auction in Motley, Minn. Barthel also owns Perham Stockyards in Perham, Minn.
    Barthel auctioneered and managed the first sale as owner at Tri County on Sept. 11.
    “It was surreal, and I couldn’t believe it was happening,” Barthel said about auctioneering the first sale in Motley. “It was different and exciting.”
    The biggest change will be in the name. Although the signs still read Tri County Livestock Auction, Barthel has plans to rename the sale barn Tri County Stockyards LLC to be more consistently branded with Perham Stockyards.
    While Barthel will serve as auctioneer for the sales, the rest of the approximately 18-person staff will stay the same. Former owner Joe Varner will also stay on the payroll and continue working at the sale barn.
    “It’s a great livestock auction, and I get to carry on the tradition,” Barthel said. “It’s a great, great honor. I think it will be good for me and good for the people. It will be a great coalition and really take off.”
    For now, most other aspects of the sale barn, including the time of the auction each week, will stay the same. All classes of cattle sell on Wednesdays, and there will be special cow sales once a month on Saturdays during the season from December to May.
    Barthel said nearly 100,000 head of cattle pass through the sale ring each year at Tri County, with about 1,500 to 2,000 each week. About 10% of the sales are dairy.
    “It is heavily beef,” Barthel said. “It’s a very good market, it has a great tradition and has a solid foundation. It’s northern Minnesota’s largest feeder cattle auction. I think it will grow.”
    Business will continue to operate as normal at Perham Stockyards, where Barthel and his crew sell about 50,000 head of cattle annually. About half of those animals sold are dairy.
    Barthel is confident in the services his two sale barns can and do provide.
    “We’re good livestock market operators,” Barthel said. “We provide a good service with top auctioneers and great marketing experience to provide for the customers in Motley and Perham.”
    Auctioneering has been a part of Barthel’s life since the age of 16 when he attended auctioneering school. Now, 28 years later, Barthel still loves the auctioneering part of his job.
    “It’s fast paced and a passion for me,” he said. “Auctioneering is all I wanted to do since I was little.”  
    But he also likes the business aspect as well.
    “We have two really great markets in Minnesota, and I am certainly pleased with both of them,” he said. “I certainly appreciate all our customers, buyers, sellers, employees and truckers. They all do a great job. I’m looking forward to a great future, and any new customers we can gain, we sure would be happy to help them as much as we can.”