PLAINVILLE — With a new state-of-the-art sale barn, Plainville Livestock has grown far beyond the capacity of the original 1950s building Tyler and Camden Gillum purchased in 2006.

In that first year, the Gilllums sold 15,000 head. Their new sale barn, opened in July, moved more than 115,000 head in 2017, Tyler Gillum said.

“There’s only three barns larger than us in the state,” he said — Salina, Pratt and Dodge City.

He aims to move up that list.

“My next goal is 200,000,” he said.

Ask him the key to Plainville Livestock’s success, and Gillum is quick to credit his employees. The sale barn employs 10 full-time and about 20 part-time employees, many who have worked for him for years and who come from as far away as Ellis, Waldo, Hays, Logan and Phillipsburg to work the sales every Tuesday.

Among the key employees, he lists office manager Traci Cellmer, assistant manager Jarrett Harmon, sales manager Lance Reed, and field representatives David Alexander and Earl Ward.

“Jarrett Harmon is very talented. He’s a cattleman, he’s my right-hand man,” Gillum said.

Ward, of Hays, formerly ran the Osborne and Russell sale barns and has worked at Plainville for about six years.

The second biggest reason for Plainville Livestock’s success is the cattle producers, Gillum said. Rooks County is ideally located for that sector of agriculture.

“A lot of people don’t know this, but the top five cow-calf counties in the state either adjoin us or are the next adjoining county. So we are in the heart of cow-calf production,” Gillum said.

Relationships are important, Gillum said. During the rest of the week, he and his staff fan out across the region to visit with producers. During auctions as a new cow or herd comes into the arena, Gillum will often speak out from the auction block on the quality of the producer’s livestock.

“We really pride ourselves in small customers, just individuals, the mom and pop cow-calf deals, that’s the heart of our business. If we take care of them, they come back,” he said.