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Wyoming Businesses

Thermopolis – It’s been a century or more since Wyoming legend Lucy Moore, a.k.a. the “Sheep Queen” called Wyoming home. One can, however, imagine that she’d happily approve of the new ranch-based business carrying her name.
    Billie Jo Norsworthy’s desire to take up knitting soon had her seeking out more knowledge on spinning, felting and all things wool related. Just two years after picking up her first pair of knitting needles Billie Jo, with the help and support of her family, has opened “Lucy’s Sheep Camp” eight miles north of Thermopolis on the family ranch. Billie Jo and her husband Jason and their daughter Emme ranch with Billie Jo’s parents, Jim and Terry Wilson, and her grandparents, Willard and Maycle Wilson. For Billie Jo the venture is more than a store, but also an opportunity to share ag’s message in her community.
    “I started knitting and then I got interested in spinning,” recalls Billie Jo. “I thought there’s no reason I can’t have sheep.” After doing a little research she traveled to Pavillion and purchased her first sheep. “It just took off from there and we soon went from four ewes to 75 in the spinning flock now,” says Billie Jo. Rambouillet, Teeswater and Wensleydale can be found among the ranch’s flock. When Billie Jo jokes there were days when the learning curve was steep she’s not talking about the artistic side of the endeavor, but her new role as the owner of sheep.
    “The long wools we shear twice a year,” says Billie Jo who skirts the wool herself. “We send everything to a mill in Kansas.”
    This year she says they also tried something new. “Jason and I have a herd of commercial Rambouillet ewes. We took a 550-pound bale of their wool and sent it to the mill to have it turned into felt.” She says the project has thus far turned out really well. “There’s a fiber artist in California that’s interested in the felt and has made a couple of orders.”
    “I just love it,” says Billie Jo of the decision to open the store that sells yarn, roving, fleeces and felt. Easing into the business over the past two year she says an official grand opening on Sep. 20 complete with a shearing demonstration proved busy.
    “I love the wool, I love the fiber arts and how I get to use my creativity and blend it with all the skills I acquired growing up on the ranch.” She says she’s appreciated the opportunity to start with her own sheep drawing on what the land can produce and working her way toward end products. Wildlflowers, she explains on her website, serve as the inspiration for many of the colors used to dye her wool.
    Continuing her role as a ranch woman while operating the business, Billie Jo says juggling the fall ranch schedule and the store hours has had its challenging moments. It’s also part of what makes the business special and yet another opportunity to ensure the ranch remains in tact for the family’s third and fourth generations.
    “I want to promote sustainable agriculture,” says Billie Jo. “I also want it to help bring a better knowledge to people about agriculture.” Her daughter Emme’s Kindergarten class visited the ranch to see the sheep and the resulting products and it’s an opportunity Billie Jo hopes to see offered to more area students and residents in general.
    As for the larger presence in the community she laughs, “I’d like it to get big enough that I have to hire a couple of people to help out.” Classes offered one Friday a month beginning this fall are aimed at teaching more people to enjoy working with wool. “Women can come out and create stuff and have a little gathering,” she says.
    Beyond Billie Jo’s own products, those from other area producers can also be found in the store. “I’m trying to help out some other local producers,” says Billie Jo. Products from Colleen Jennings of Riverton are part of the store’s inventory and Billie Jo says, “I also know some people in Laramie who raise alpacas and llamas and I carry some of their stuff, too.”
    “Lucy Moore, known as the ‘Sheep Queen’ of Wyoming homesteaded on Copper Mountain where all of our summer country is,” says Billie Jo of the name she chose for the store. “I thought it was a nice historical reference for the county, the land and everything agriculture stands for.”
    Lucy’s Sheep Camp is open 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Wednesday through Saturday and by appointment. The store can also be found online at www.lucyssheepcamp.com. Billie Jo can be reached at 307-864-3442 or via e-mail at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. Jennifer Womack is managing editor of the Wyoming Livestock Roundup and can be reached at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

“Agriculture is a business, and it’s a part of the business community in Wyoming,” says Wyoming Business Alliance (WBA) President Cindy DeLancey. “People in ag deal with the same issues that every other business does – employees, health insurance, taxes, etc. All employment and business issues are universal, no matter what industry we’re talking about.”

DeLancey explains that WBA is a nonprofit association that focuses on statewide business issues from all industries.

“We have an education piece, an advocacy piece and a networking and relationship piece,” she says. “We are really trying to establish a statewide voice on behalf of the business community on a variety of topics.”

New leadership

DeLancey took the helm of WBA in June 2017 after long-time President Bill Schilling retired.

“Bill has done a fantastic job building WBA,” she says. “He has been a strong voice in developing the Hathaway Scholarship, been a tremendous partner on evaluating issues related to education in Wyoming and an advocate for meeting the needs of the business community so we have an able and ready workforce going into the future.”

Now, DeLancey plans to continue building on Schilling’s work to move the organization forward even further.

“My plans are to continue to build on the good work that Bill did over three decades,” DeLancey explains. “I’d like to see WBA focus on community outreach involving Wyoming citizens from all stations of life.”

As DeLancey looks at the business community across the state of Wyoming, she sees WBC working across a wide swath of businesses to tackle the common issues facing the business community.

Organization

Members of WBA receive a variety of benefits, including access to additional information and advocacy. Membership dues are based on a formula that takes into account business size.

“Smaller companies pay less dues than larger companies,” DeLancey explains. “We try to keep dues affordable because we get the most benefit when we bring members from big companies and small companies together to network and learn from each other.”

WBA meets four times a year, and members are welcome to participate as frequently as they would like.

The organization is governed by a board of 42 business people from around the state. From that set of 42, a management committee is defined, and the executive management committee, consisting of the chairman, vice chairman, treasurer and immediate past chairman, supervises DeLancey and the work of WBA.

Business forum

Among the activities of WBA, DeLancey says the Wyoming Business Forum is an event that focuses on connectivity between business industry segments and networking.

“To have the opportunity to partner with Gov. Matt Mead and bring our leaders from the business community together in Cheyenne is very exciting,” DeLancey emphasizes. “We’re bringing in national speakers, as well as Wyoming experts, on a whole variety of topics that are relevant not just for today, but as we think about positioning Wyoming for the future.”

This year, the forum will be held Nov. 7-9, and includes speakers on quality of life, fiscal options, international trade and more. Registration for the event is currently open, and DeLancey encourages anyone with questions to visit their website or call WBA.

“We also hold several other events during the year, including a legislative reception,” DeLancey continues. “We’re also working to host more events. I’m hoping to develop a series of lunch-and-learn workshops or smaller conferences that are relevant to the business community.”

She also highlights the opportunity to embrace the technology available to deliver content across the state through webinars and similar events.

“Ideally, I believe in face-to-face contact and sitting down with people over the kitchen table, but we have to utilize the technology available to connect virtually, as well,” she explains. “I plan to do a mix of both.”

Other work

“Since June, I hit the ground running,” DeLancey says. “It has been fun learning about the different business community and priorities across Wyoming’s communities.”

WBA has also focused on several emerging areas, including broadband availability, air service and education.

“Our broadband working group includes industry expertise about this rapidly emerging industry,” DeLancey explains. “Broadband is evolving so quickly, and what all three of Wyoming’s industries have in common are technology and its use to promote efficiency.”

“As we look at business going forward, I think technology availability will continue to be important to us,” she continues. “We have a thriving tech community in Wyoming, and I think it’s fascinating.”

Additionally, as the legislature continues to explore air service in Wyoming, DeLancey and WBA have been watching progress closely.

“As we get more and more into a global marketplace, air service is really going to become essential as a gateway to the global community,” DeLancey says. “Plus, there are economic benefits to air service.”

Additionally, WBA has worked with the Wyoming Heritage Foundation in developing an initiative called Wyoming Excels, which strives to create partnerships between educators and business leaders to help work toward the future of Wyoming's work force.

“As we work on educating our students, we want to keep in mind that we’re preparing the next generation of the workforce and giving them the skillset to be successful,” DeLancey says.

Connecting the dots

“All of these dots in technology connect in Wyoming businesses,” DeLancey says.

She notes that, as businesses recognize commonalities and work together to address their challenges, both big and small businesses in Wyoming benefit.

She emphasizes, “I love the word ‘alliance’ as part of our name. It’s such a powerful word in our language that emphasizes togetherness.”

DeLancey comments, “Even though we might see things differently at times, if we’re able to focus on the things that we share and harness our resources, we can speak with the loudest voice around policy.”

Saige Albert is managing editor of the Wyoming Livestock Roundup and can be reached at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Torrington — “We want to provide a more regional video auction that has more manageable numbers to draw buyers’ attention and to increase demand for this region’s high quality genetics,” states Torrington Livestock Markets co-owner Michael Schmitt of Torrington Livestock Market’s decision to establish Cattle Country Video.
“After being associated with a nationwide cattle video auction for 19 years it has become evident to us in the last four to five years that a more regional aspect of marketing needs to be created,” explains Schmitt. He adds that Western Video does a great job with video marketing and Torrington Livestock has enjoyed working with them for almost two decades.
Cattle Country Video will offer cattle from the Rocky Mountain and High Plains regions including Wyoming, Montana, western South Dakota, northern Colorado, northeast Utah and Nebraska. It will be headquartered in Torrington with local representatives across the service region. Valentine Livestock Auction is already on board as a member, and the Kearney and Lexington Livestock Markets are currently in the process of joining. T&L Livestock Auction in Utah is also involved.
“We think it is important to provide quality service to our region and get people in contact with a local representative. We don’t want to go to Oklahoma or New Mexico or California and market those cattle. We are marketing cattle we understand and sell every day,” says Schmitt.
“We are very blessed and fortunate to have such high quality cattle in this area. We believe the best cattle in the country are sold in this region and we get a lot of repeat customers because of the quality, genetics and performance,” adds Torrington Livestock Markets co-owner and auctioneer Lex Madden.
Cattle Country plans to provide more frequent, one- or two-day auctions with more manageable numbers as opposed to three- to five-day auctions that jump from region to region.
“Several buyers have commented that they are only interested in cattle from this region anyway,” says Madden.
“In talking to buyers last year we found it is becoming increasingly difficult for them to zone in for a three-day auction. If we have a six-hour sale that offers 30,000 head, it’s not hard to get a person to come to the sale or sit at the computer or in front of the TV and give us their undivided attention. Historically when we’ve sold cattle, a buyer will be interested in lots selling at 8 a.m. and 10 a.m. We would lose his attention and have to call him back because he wasn’t interested in any lots in between since they were from different regions. This format will enable us to keep everyone’s attention at one time,” states Schmitt.
The first auction is scheduled for July 1 in Cheyenne at the Little America Hotel.
“It’s an important location to us because that’s where we started. Our first sale with Western was held there, so going back to Cheyenne is like a homecoming for us. It’s where we started and where we’re going to continue from,” says Schmitt.
Cattle Country’s second sale will be held Aug. 12 in Gering Nebraska at the civic center and a third sale is slated for Sept. 16 in Ogallala, Neb. at the Haythorne Ranch.
“Every sale will be broadcast on www.cattleusa.com, of which we are a member,” says Schmitt, adding that along with attending the sale, they will be made available on Dish Network TV.
“The industry started with a sale barn and went to satellite in the early 1980s. Then in the late 1990s and early 2000s it went to Internet so we are unraveling that and incorporating the Internet in our auctions. There are four or five different places buyers can access to bid on cattle. I think that’s great exposure,” states Schmitt.
Cattle Country’s aim is to make their auction user friendly while providing uniform, high quality cattle in a manageable time frame.
“There won’t be a break in regions during our sale. Cattle will all be from this region, which consistently provides powerful genetics that are in heavy demand by the industry and they will be offered in longer streams that buyers demand,” says Schmitt.
Madden states that work is being done with multiple breed organizations in addition to certified and natural programs to provide options to both buyers and sellers. Schmitt adds that Cattle Country will have its own age and source verification program in addition to providing verified vaccination programs for cattle.
“We are bringing different levels of success to cattle and trying to identify and provide niche marketing options to our customers,” says Madden.
Cattle Country will have the ability to send text and email alerts on specific lots and track the number of hits a lot receives online.
“We will have the catalog online and if one lot is receiving a lot of hits we can go in and see who is looking at it. Then we can send those people an email alert when that lot is five minutes from selling,” explains Schmitt.
“All we’re doing is using proven techniques with modern technology. We understand what video marketing is after being associated with it for 19 years. Most of the wrinkles have been worked out during that time and we are able to take the good pieces and drop some of the things we felt were deterrents,” says Schmitt.
Cattle Country Video will bring over 20 years cattle marketing experience and two world champion auctioneers to the table. A trusted group of people are involved in the business that understand the cattle industry and are committed to quality. Schmitt comments that while change is hard he has really enjoyed the process and is very excited about the future of Cattle Country Video.
“We’re very excited about it and we look forward to doing business with our old customers in addition to many new ones. We strive to be fair and honest with both our buyers and sellers because that’s the way we live and what we believe in,” adds Madden.
For more information on Cattle Country Video call 1-888-3CATTLE or visit their website after April 1 at www.cattlecountryvideo.com. Heather Hamilton is editor of the Wyoming Livestock Roundup and can be reached at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..   

Pine Bluffs – After investing in a high-tech plasma torch machine and finding it without enough work to keep busy, Dean Bowman established Allwayz Manufacturing as a family business in Pine Bluffs.
    “We were hoping to get work from manufacturers in the area,” Bowman says of the machine’s purchase. “That didn’t happen, so we sat down to figure out what we were going to do with the machine.”
    Bowman says he grew up farming with his family and his father became involved with center irrigation pivots. “He bought the first one to ever come into this area, then all the neighbors wanted him to put one up for them so he fell into it.”
    “I grew up in irrigation and I hated it, but I always liked building things so I took over the shop job. The local farmers started realizing we could fix things, so that’s how the repair work started,” he says.
    Having never been an artist, but having always wanted to manufacture something, Bowman says he started dabbling in different shapes and pieces to fabricate and the metal artwork is what he came up with.
    “I wanted something to depend on, rather than waiting for people to walk if for us to fix their stuff,” he adds.
    Bowman says many companies do mostly wall work, but Allwayz Manufacturing produces functional pieces with a use, from small things like switch plates and business card holders to chairs and light fixtures.
    “We try to focus on Western and wildlife products,” he says.
    Currently Cabela’s is their number one customer; they’ve also sold to England, Japan, Spain and Thailand, among others. “We’ve sold to stores in every state in the U.S.,” says Bowman.
    “Last year we moved close to $750,000 worth of product,” he says. “Right now it’s popular and there are a lot more people doing it because the machine us cheaper now, but they can’t do the quality or production we do.”
    “We always hoped we’d get this big, but we never expected it,” says Bowman of his business’s success.
    Allwayz Manufacturing uses a computerized plasma torch that cuts anything up to one inch thick that will conduct electricity. A recent installation was a water jet, which will cut any type of material, including glass, ceramic tile, wood and steel.
    “We can now expand into other products to get ahead of our competition,” says Bowman.
    “We burn up a lot of material, and the increased cost of steel is really a problem for us,“ he says, adding that it causes the company to mark up products that need to be guaranteed a year in advance. “We don’t know what’s going to happen in two months so we mark it up, but then we might not sell it.”
    Right now there are eight employees working in the manufacturing end of the business, while there are about seven working retail stores in Cheyenne.
    “The biggest issue in this area is finding qualified people that can do this type of work,” says Bowman. “We’re willing to hire someone and train them and let them grow in the business, but the labor force in this area is tough. It’s nice to find somebody that knows and has an idea about the equipment and how it works and how to fix it. That’s getting harder to find all the time.”
    “We still do the walk-in repair-type stuff and we venture into other things to manufacture for people. I like a challenge, and you never know what somebody’s going to need,” says Bowman. Right now a project the company is working on is specialized flatbed trailers.
    “We’re still on a learning curve with the water jet, but with it we’re hoping to bring in work like shaping countertops for new homes, instead of them sawing it,” he says. “We can do whatever design they want in anything.”
    Allwayz Manufacturing can be found online at allwayzmfg.com. Christy Hemken is assistant editor for the Wyoming Livestock Roundup and can be reached at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..
Pinedale - Customers of the Cowboy Shop in Pinedale have known they can visit the store once and return 10 years later to find the store still in operation. Owners Bob and Carolyn Bing hope that’s an expectation they can fulfill well into the future.
    In 1947 Bob’s mother, a schoolteacher in Big Piney, brought the Cowboy Shop into existence. She offered local cowboys the basics such as snap shirts and blue jeans as well as boots and hats.
    In 1973 Bob and Carolyn, who came to Wyoming from Michigan, got married and began to take over the store. Bob’s mother has been gone five years, but worked in the shop until a few years before she passed away.
    As the economy has changed, Carolyn says the Cowboy Shop has changed to meet the needs of the clientele of the moment. “The shop started as a cowboy store, then it got to be more of a tourist store because we’re on the way to Yellowstone,” she says. “Every time we have a gas boom we put more emphasis on steel-toed boots and Carhartt, then when the boom bottoms up we pull back into more cowboy boots.”
    Currently the store carries 50 percent cowboy wear and 50 percent work wear. Carolyn says when this boom is over the work wear will fall to around 10 percent of inventory.
    In addition to cowboys and oil workers, the store brings in customers from surrounding dude ranches. “We’re always ready for someone to walk in wanting less expensive hats and boots because they’re only going to wear them for a week,” says Carolyn.
    Of their inventory assortment, Carolyn says, “The reality is that Wyoming isn’t just Western; it’s a blend of modern, contemporary, Western, old-fashioned and European. We try to have whatever a person might be looking for.”
    “That’s the nice thing about being one of the bigger stores in town – people come check us out first,” she continues. “We have to be ready for them.”
    Bob and Carolyn say it’s their customer service that makes the shop unique. “People are so amazed when we don’t just say, ‘Here’s your change,’” says Carolyn. “The conversation we give our customers is something they don’t get other places, and that’s what I hope people will remember.”
    Although Pinedale’s population is growing and business is strong, Carolyn says the employee situation is “absolutely horrible.”
  “We’re almost strangled because of the lack of people to hire,” she explains. “The last thing we want to do is expand because we can barely maintain what we’ve got.” She says they’re lucky to have two other people working the store beside themselves, and even then it’s hard to keep track of what’s going on.
    “It’s well-known that Wyoming has a low population, but there’s so much business throughout the state there aren’t enough people to cover all the bases,” she says, adding local kids come back to the county to work but head to the oil field to make $20 or $30 per hour.
    “It’s always been a challenge, and I’m grateful we both work the store together so if nothing else we know there are two of us,” she adds.
    Of living in Pinedale, she says it’s the people and the place they like. “We drive home at night seeing mountains and antelope – where else in the world can you have that?” she says. “I also enjoy having a personal relationship with the people that walk in the door outside of them giving me money and me giving them merchandise.” After living in an Army family, Carolyn has stayed put in Pinedale for 35 years.
    Bob and Carolyn say rising fuels costs have softened summer tourism somewhat, but tourists walking in the door this summer seem to spend more money.
    In addition to their physical location, the Cowboy Shop has sold product online for five years. “Wyoming only has so many people that can walk in the door, so to try to even out the year and help our bottom line we’ve expanded our customer base by going online and joining the rest of the world there,” says Carolyn. “However, you can never replace or forget the front door and sidewalk presence and the people that walk in. Half the time they’re not walking in to buy something, they’re walking in to see about the rodeo or the roping. It’s all about the relationship.”
    The Bings welcome the August return of their daughter Terra as a store manager. “We’re hoping over the next couple years she’ll like it enough to stay,” says Carolyn. “We may not work less, but she’ll just do more.”
    Bob says he enjoys operating the store because, he says, “Every day’s a new day and it’s not the same old thing every day. There are always new people with all kinds of summer visitors and lots of foreign visitors.” Those foreign visitors sometimes benefit from Carolyn’s French fluency. “They’re always surprised when someone in the middle of nowhere speaks French,” he adds.
    “Every day somebody walks in and tells a story of the past, and I think in this current economy, where everything is changing so fast, there are some things that don’t change, and we’re one of them,” says Carolyn. “Hopefully we’ll be able to pass it on to the third generation. That’s really important to us.”
    Visit the Cowboy Shop online at www.cowboyshop.com or at 129 Pine in Pinedale. Christy Hemken is assistant editor of the Wyoming Livestock Roundup and can be reached at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..