They didn’t set out to revolutionize the club calf industry, but according to some of their best supporters, that is exactly what Ron and Becky Thompson of Whitesboro, Texas, did when they started Showsteers.com.
Ron and Becky both started out with ranching experience. Ron, growing up near Wessington Springs, South Dakota, surrounded by good grass and good cattle; Becky was raised on the Grand River Ranch in northwestern, SD. They both participated in showing cattle, horses and rodeo through 4-H, high school and state associations.
As they grew up, they learned about sound, performance-based cattle and horses. Ron and Becky both developed an “eye” for the good ones, whether it was livestock or what they invisioned for the promotion of their own cattle.
Prior to the creation of Showsteers, Becky had been involved in the tourism industry as well as the development and promotion of several businesses and organizations including the South Dakota Rodeo Association and her own flower shop. She continued to develop an eye for design and the best ways to creatively position businesses or organizations.
Ron brought another important skill set to the table. He is a quick learner, and when he commits to learning a craft, he dives in. When they decided that a website was the next best way to promote their club calves, Ron read all of the manuals available on web development and tested them out on the computer. He showed Becky the basics, and from there they were able to build a solid foundation for what would eventually become the first website for show cattle.
Do you remember when there was advertising that didn’t have www in it? When Showsteers.com was officially launched in 1998 it was seldom heard of or seen. With the start of Showsteers.com the club calf industry quickly became accustomed to it!
Bobby May was a buyer of Thompson Show Steers' calves and became aware of Ron and Becky’s venture into marketing on the World Wide Web. He asked them to create a web site for his business and that’s when Showsteers.com became the First Club Calf Directory. By 1999, they had grown to 100 customers and today have over 1000 club calf producers, promoters and show- related industries listed on their website. Showsteers.com continues to be the most visited web site of its kind and their customers benefit from the thousands of daily visitors.
“We’ve always tried to provide an affordable and useful website to help others promote their club calf businesses,” Becky says. “And we’ve worked hard at being on the leading edge of technology.”
Showsteers was one of the first sites to utilize social media in the form of a boardroom. “It was a place where people could post questions and get answers. It wasn’t in real time like social media is today with Facebook, Twitter, and Blogs, but it was a way for people in the club calf industry to connect and talk about pertinent issues,” Ron adds.
Ron and Becky have added team members to Showsteers who blog on the website. “We have some great young people who are becoming leaders in our industry, and they have a voice on Showsteers.com. They talk about shows, sales, and the things that are on their minds. It gives Showsteers a unique voice and an appeal to young exhibitors and their parents,” Thompsons say.
Keeping with the theme of advancing technology, they have recently developed an App for Showsteers.com that you will find very soon in the Apple Store. You’ll be able to locate club calf producers in a specific area on a Showsteers map App. It may now be accessed by going to www.showsteersmap.com.
You might be wondering how Ron and Becky ended up in Texas when their ties and roots seem to be so deep in South Dakota.
According to Becky, “Ron had always had a passion for horses and had a reining horse project going in Wessington Springs. We made a special trip to the Whitesboro area because that’s where most of the reining horse people were. We drove by a small ranch (compared to South Dakota) that had many of the things we wanted in a horse place, and it didn’t take long for us to decide to take Showsteers and Ron’s reining to the next level. Ron’s youngest son Chad was in a position to come back to the ranch and maintain and further develop the Thompson Show Steers herd."
Since that time, Showsteers has expanded tenfold and Ron’s training program for reining horses has become very successful. He was ranked #4 Non-Pro Rider in the National Reining Horse Association (NRHA) for 2012. Ron has been the leading seller of two-year-old reining horses on the prospect sale at the National Futurity for the past eight years. Ron continues to use the same attention to detail and promotion he learned in the club calf business to become a success with his reining horses.
Showsteers has also continued to evolve. The site has been redesigned several times and it brings a fresh new look always keeping ease and use-ability in mind. There are new features added to the site quite frequently. Becky and Dianna Elder, who works remotely from Pella, Iowa as a web designer, keep a close eye on what’s new on the web and what could be the next big thing for Showsteers. Becky feels customer service, attention to detail, and completing web site updates in a timely manner is what sets Showsteers apart.
The Thompsons say that Showsteers.com has been an unforgettable experience. They are thankful to everyone who has helped make it what it is today. Becky says the business continues to grow, and they couldn't have done it without their clients—people who they see as friends.