Email This Story

Subject:
Recipient's Email:
Sender's Email:
captcha 042924c6717f4c60aaca94b82216e3fd
Enter text seen above:


Western Kansas magazine hits the bull's-eye

By AMY BICKEL

Special to The Hays Daily News

DIGHTON -- In the heart of cattle country 20 years ago, an urbanite planted a business.

As semis of cattle jingle outside on K-96, Bob Strong admits, while having 31 business cards from various past jobs, the graphic artist by trade had never been in the magazine publishing business.

"I swim upstream all the time," Strong, 81, said with a chuckle. "I was looking for something new, something different."

That happened when a company he was working with wasn't getting good response on a tub grinder they were advertising in other livestock publications.

Strong saw an opportunity. Why not market specifically to the people who could afford a $90,000-plus livestock tool?

In 1992, the Wichita businessman at the time took his idea to print. He called it Feedlot Magazine.

And, a year later, he moved his business to downtown Dighton, still not knowing exactly what the future would bring.

"We fought to stay alive," said son Greg, who had done everything from selling radio ads to cars and cemetery plots before his father hired him to sell magazine ads. "They say 97 percent of new publications go out of business in the first year and two percent in the second year.

"We're part of that 1 percent of publications that have hung on."

In the age of high-speed technology, they say you can do business anywhere.

And, when he married a woman from Dighton, Bob Strong moved the magazine with him, Greg Strong said.

The office has moved a few times in the past 19 years, he added. Still, Feedlot Magazine has become one of the town's mainstays as the Strongs have worked to grow the business. They have an editor in Texas and a designer in Wichita. Greg does most of the advertising and marketing from his home in Dighton.

These days, the free publication goes to about 10,000 in the U.S., as well as Australia, South America and Canada. Those 10,000 in the industry are verified through BPA -- a company that provides media owners and advertisers with assurance they are reaching the right audience.

Feedlot Magazine's target audience is those with at least 500 head operations, Bob Strong said. Their audience has about 27 million head of cattle in feedlots.

The magazine carries just industry news, Greg Strong said, noting "we don't publish recipes; we don't publish who won the biggest animal contest. It is all current, usable information."

Reader response has been good, he said.

"They say it is the best magazine they ever read in terms of good, hard information for the reader," Greg Strong said. "About 45 percent of those surveyed said our magazine is their main source of livestock information."

He also has been working to build the company's online presence. In recent years, they have launched both feedlotmagazine.com and yourcattle.com, which is geared to cow/calf operators.

The website gets more than 154,000 hits a month with 8,300 unique visitors and 30,800 page views. They have more than 4,500 digital subscribers, Greg Strong said.

Bob Strong decided to semi-retire from the business last July. His son took over as the magazine's publisher.

"He still keeps in the loop on any major decisions," Greg said, adding his father typically still comes into the office every day.

Bob Strong said he grew up in Hill City before moving to bigger cities like Wichita.

He has enjoyed the past two decades in downtown Dighton, putting together something that has helped provide information to the nation's feedlot operators.

"Learning the cattle business has been an ongoing event," Strong said. "But both of us have enjoyed that."

Greg Strong said he couldn't imagine doing anything else, noting at first he didn't know how long the magazine would last.

Now it is one of the top livestock magazines in the nation.

"It has been a job that has turned into a career," Greg Strong said. "We have kept on peddling."

------

Online:

http://www.feedlotmagazine.com/

http://www.yourcattle.com/