There’s no way to fit 75 years of history into a weekend…or a four-page story…or even a blog!  But boy are we trying!

Every February, All West/Select Sires holds its Annual Meeting, and locations rotate between California, Oregon & Washington.  This year the meeting was held in Palm Desert, CA, only 300 miles west of Phoenix.  The power of water is evident, and the beautiful, irrigated setting blended in with nearby towns of Palm Springs, Cathedral City, Indio….to make what locals call “The Oasis.”

In preparation for any annual meeting, the staff is always a bit on edge because there are presentations to put together, agendas to create, people to invite, business to cover, delegates & directors to elect…and oh yes, make sure everyone has a good time!  This year might have been a bit more stressful with 75 years of history to celebrate.  How in the world can you squeeze 75 years into a weekend event?  We wanted to make it interesting, involve as many people as we could, and still walk away with a strong sense of “where we’ve been, but more importantly where we’re going.”

The theme of “How the All West was Won” was an easy one to plan around.  Allen Bush made up some backgrounds to use during our presentations – a saloon background was created for our afternoon “card game” that involved dealer Maynard Axelson and cowboys Karl Krangnes and Randy Van Weirengen playing cards and dealing up guest speakers Richard Chichester and Dave Thorbahn of Select Sires, Herald Catlin and Bill Genasci of All West, and renegades Walt Stornetta and Pete DeGroot.  Costume of the day certainly goes to Walt as he surprised every… of us!  But the memories that were shared and the pictures that we saw and the laughter that we heard…it was all priceless!  The saloon quickly transformed into our main banquet area that night, with the expert help of Laurie Christofferson, LaVonne Boogerd, Jen Gonzalez, Kate Rohner, cowboys Karl & Randy and the mini dream team of Allen, Jamie & I.  We set up a stage, a photo booth, hung banners, put out table decorations…it really did take a small army.  Celebrations ran into the night as long-time All West team members were honored, our retiring president Mark Van Mersbergen was recognized and our three brand new Ranch House videos were unveiled.  We also got to watch winning junior essay winners R.J. Rupard and Luke Wolfisberg present their entries.

Did we fit 75 years in?  Nope – not even close.

We are honored to be on the cover of the 2016 Northwest Holsteins Annual, and also featured in a story inside the issue.  Jerry Straunlund says we’ve got four pages to use and we’ll fill up every bit of space we can with pictures, events and people that made All West what it is today.

Can we summarize 75 years in four pages?  Nope – not even close again!

We’re just two months into this celebration and I’ve realized a few things.  There are stories and people and events that we could talk about for years, but that’s just not possible, nor could we ever do history justice by trying to repeat it all.  What’s become even more evident in the short amount of anniversary celebration time is that we’re enjoying the success we have today because it was an All West FAMILY that founded this co-operative.  It was an All West FAMILY that worked through the regional mergers and the joining with Select Sires Inc.  It was an All West FAMILY that grew and expanded services throughout the area.  And it’s an All West FAMILY that continues business today, just completing our second largest year of sales in history.  We can celebrate the great times because of the perseverance of the men and women who believed in this family for 75 years.

Can we begin to thank everyone who made an impact on our history?  Nope – not even close a third time.

But we can thank them, and thank those who helped make our Annual Meeting a smashing success.  And thank you to Jerry for the opportunity to be part of this year’s Northwest Annual.  And thank you to our FAMILY of employees and member-owners who are beginning the journey right now on the next 75 years of How the All West WILL be Won!


(blog posts will appear on the website from several members of the All West family including Communications Manager Karen Knutsen and All West Marketing Intern Bailie Welton)
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