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Opinion: Oil exec lassos bulls for charity

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There is more weight behind the Cattle Baron’s Ball live auction this year. And that’s no bull.

Wait a second, yes it is. Ten bulls to be exact.

Last year, in Springfield’s inaugural American Cancer Society Cattle Baron’s Ball, a Clydesdale colt donated by Jeff Gower of Budweiser distributor Wil Fischer stole the show. This year, the buzz surrounds a square-hipped and long-sided bull donated by Ed Pinegar of Pinegar Chevrolet and Pinegar Limousine.

“It’s going to be our featured bull,” said Steve Naegler of Naegler Oil Co. and Fast N Friendly convenience stores, who has been working behind the scenes with livestock producers to amass the list of bulls and heifers that will go to auction during the Aug. 21 ball at the William H. Darr Agricultural Center.

Naegler is the unofficial chairman of the bull auction, a title handed to him by inaugural Cattle Baron’s Ball chairwoman Kim Inman. Naegler attended the 2009 ball with executive baron Gower, and after the event, he brought an idea to Inman.

“I said, ‘If you’re going to call this a Cattle Baron’s Ball, you need to have some cattle,’” he recalled. “She said, ‘You know, I think you’re right. Take care of it.’”

And that’s what he did.

At the top of his list is Pinegar’s bull, dubbed “Naegler’s Dream,” which weighed in at 1,270 pounds in its first year. “By the time it gets out (to the auction), it’s going to be 1,700 or 1,800 pounds,” Naegler said. “I would like to see it bring $25,000. We’ll see what happens.”

Considering the young Clydesdale fetched $16,000 from John Joslyn during last year’s auction, ball organizers think Naegler’s projection is reasonable.

Other bull and heifer producers donating for the auction include doctors Al Bonebrake, Roger Holden and Alan Scarrow.

Now, the task is finding people who will commit to buying.

“This is just a tool to raise money,” said Naegler, who appears fearless in his endeavor. “It isn’t about making a good buy. If you’re looking for a bargain, you’ve come to the wrong place.”

And if bulls aren’t your thing, Naegler has that objection covered.

“They can buy an animal and keep it for themselves, or they can donate to the college or university of their choice,” he said. “There are a lot of good things they can do with a bull. Being in the Midwest, most of the major universities have large animal science programs.”

Naegler puts his money where his mouth is. Last year, Naegler and his business partner brother Joe bought a heifer from King Ranch and donated it to Missouri State University.

But Naegler knows once the auction starts, his job is finished.

“A lot of this is going to depend on the mood at the time. If we can get everybody revved up a little bit, and get them enthused,” he trails off, seemingly dreaming of what could be. “The bulls are pretty impressive, and they get a little anxious in those pens, so a good auctioneer and a good bull can get a crowd motivated pretty quick.”

Naegler’s motivation is simply the idea of giving back. He doesn’t have any personal cancer stories to tell. But he does think of a few former classmates who have survived cancer, and he throws out motivating statistics like 50 percent of all men will get cancer and 66 percent of all women will get cancer. Oh, and there’s the motto of Naegler’s father-in-law that has stuck with him: “You never pay for your raising, until you raise someone else.”

And that’s just what Naegler is doing after his 25 years in the oil and convenience store business.

Springfield Business Journal Editor Eric Olson is co-chairman of the 2010 Cattle Baron’s Ball publicity committee. He can be reached at[[In-content Ad]]


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