The sale of one of Alberta’s pioneer country livestock markets of the 1950s, Vold, Jones & Vold Auction Co. (VJV) at Ponoka, has precipitated a shuffle in ownership of several markets over the past year.
Last August, Henry and Andrea Thalen of Ponoka purchased the Ponoka and Dawson Creek markets from three generations of the Vold family — Ralph, Blair and Nansen — who had owned and operated VJV Ponoka since Ralph and his brother, Harry, founded the business in partnership with Bill and Shorty Jones in 1957.
Henry’s parents, Morris and Sandra Thalen, purchased the Beaverlodge market from Jed and Barb Willis later that fall.
Taking the opportunity to expand their businesses in May of this year Henry and Andrea purchased the Rimbey market and Morris and Sandra purchased the Westlock market, both from Sekura Auctions of Drayton Valley, Alta.
Ownership of the Dawson Creek market was transferred to Morris and Sandra, putting the three northern markets in their hands, while the Ponoka and Rimbey markets operate together under the ownership of Henry and Andrea.
All of the Thalens’ holdings go by the well-known and respected VJV acronym and cattle sales remain the heart of the business with dairy, bison, horse/tack and sheep/goat sales offered at some locations.
It’s said that opportunity only knocks once and the opportunity to buy their hometown market was too good to let slip by at a time when the Thalens were looking for something to stay in agriculture and in the Ponoka area after selling their dairy east of town in May of 2014. The family comes from a dairy background in British Columbia and has called Ponoka home since 1996.
The lineup of regular Wednesday cattle sales through the three rings and monthly dairy and bison sales at VJV Ponoka has remained the same and there are no immediate plans to change things.
“It’s a strong market with knowledgeable, experienced staff and they’ve been very helpful in teaching us the business,” Henry says.
Blair Vold stayed on to manage the Canadian Satellite Livestock Sales division and his son, Nansen Vold, is co-manager and fieldman. Craig Jacklin, who has been with VJV for 16 years is feeder finance manager and fieldman, while office manager Dianna Allan has ushered in many changes during her 39 years at VJV Ponoka, and yard manager Mike Dejonge has been keeping things running smoothly behind the scene for eight years.
Shawn Gist is the new manager at VJV Dawson Creek with regular sales now held Tuesdays along with calf/yearling sales Fridays through the fall run and feature horse/tack sales.
Don Fessler moves from VJV Dawson Creek to manage VJV Beaverlodge, which is undergoing some upgrades scheduled to be completed by August 11. The facility reopens with a brand new office, sorting facility and loading and unloading chutes. Regular sales are now Thursdays with occasional horse/tack sales.
Gary Jarvis, former owner of the Westlock market under the Triple J name, returns as manager of VJV Westlock. Regular sales are Thursdays with monthly sheep/goat sales and occasional horse/tack sales.
Wes Skeels is the new manager at VJV Rimbey where regular sales run Tuesday with monthly horse/tack sales.
VJV Canadian Gold Show Alley sales, featured at Ponoka and Dawson Creek since 2009, have been extended to Beaverlodge. Show alley sales are held on regular sale days at each location with most groups of show alley cattle sold through the ring, while large groups are sold from their pens. The show alley part of the sale goes online with live video and audio and real-time online bidding through the Online Ringman system to keep pace with ringside bidding.
Show alley sales are for one-owner, source-verified cattle and age verification is strongly recommended. Each producer’s cattle is sorted into uniform groups and a show list is posted to the website and circulated to buyers the evening before the sale. It gives the name of the owner along with the weight and weighing condition, breed, health and feed program for each pen of cattle.
This is an opportunity for consignors to expose their cattle to a wider audience and potentially sell to buyers for branded beef programs who may be willing to bid premium prices on cattle that qualify for their programs. The buyer and prices for each pen are posted on the website as the sale proceeds.
Online purebred sales are the latest addition to the VJV lineup. These sales stream live over the Internet from any location. As always, the Thalens welcome producers to contact them about booking any of their locations for production sales.
Meanwhile, Rob and Sharon Bergevin are celebrating with an anniversary auction, August 28, to mark one year as sole owners of Foothills Auctioneers at Stavely, Alta. It previously operated as VJV Foothills Auction under a 50-50 partnership between the Bergevins and Blair Vold since 2005.
Bergevin says the location of the market, alongside Highway 2 only 45 minutes from major feedlots in the Lethbridge area, continues to be a strong draw for the market and very important in serving customers.
The facility has been modernized with the addition of some new pens and electronic identification tags are now read on arrival. As always, Foothills receives cattle 24-7 into bedded pens with feed and water.
Regular sales are Fridays with all-breed feeder sales Mondays and Wednesdays through the fall run. Due to dry conditions this summer, feeder calf sales start August 18. Bred sales are slotted in as needed.
Purebred production sales and horse sales hosted at the market or off site can be set up to stream live over the Internet with real-time online bidding.
The market continues to offer the financing program, the show alley option in conjunction with the regular sales, and Canadian Satellite Livestock Auction sales Wednesday mornings.
Foothills Auctioneers also runs a farm and ranch real estate and equipment division supported by a marketing program that gives clients nationwide exposure.
The Bergevins are carrying on with Foothills’ 15-year tradition of calling the Calgary Stampede’s Tarp Sale (for chuckwagon tarp advertising) as well as the Stampede’s Western Art Auction for the 10th year.
Bergevin, a longtime supporter of his professional associations, is currently vice-president of the Alberta Auction Markets Association and an executive director representing Alberta on the Livestock Markets Association of Canada (LMAC).
The Foothills market hosted the 2012 Canadian Livestock Auctioneer Championship as part of LMAC’s annual convention in Calgary and is proud to be named 2016 host of the International Auctioneering Championship held annually in conjunction with the Calgary Stampede.
Corey Sekura ended his family’s 49-year history in livestock marketing on a positive note with the sale of the Rimbey and Westlock locations to the Thalens.
“They are great people with good integrity who will carry on the livestock business well,” he says.
The decision to close the Drayton Valley Auction Mart as of May 1, 2013, didn’t come lightly because his parents had started the business in the mid-1960s. Nearly a half-century later, the town had grown out and around the market that was originally a half-mile out of town.
He noted the expansion of Sekura Auctions’ real estate and equipment business as another reason for the sale as it became tough to do a good job of operating both divisions. The company continues to sell farms, ranches, as well as industrial and commercial equipment across Western Canada, operating from its head office in Drayton Valley and satellite offices in Westlock and Rimbey.