Col. Kevin Wendt, Ohio auctioneer and longtime friend, worked many auctions with John Meents over the years. Kevin learned from John to be honest and tell the truth;
have faith that things will work out, but always be honest. After turning his tassel at Purdue University, John landed his first livestock marketing job as a fieldman for the American Yorkshire Club (AYC) in 1978. The first sale he worked was the record-shattering McGraw Yorkshire production sale that sold more than 760 head for $283,195 — a record that still stands as the most breeding hogs sold in a single production sale.
Before the sale, John received the best advice a young ringman can receive from legendary swine auctioneers, Col. Mark Pickel and Col. Dan Baker — remember who bid and what they bid. Armed with these words of wisdom, John traveled 98,000 miles in his 11 months of AYC employment. Then he was tapped by another livestock legend, Neil Orth, to join the Drovers Journal fieldstaff.
At the time John joined, the publication was hoping to create a swine-specific sister publication. John dove in, driving many miles, visiting with producers about their stock for sale and learning about effective ways to use print advertisements. John cut his teeth in the industry with livestock merchandising legends such as Wade Houser, Jay George, Jay Carlson, Lyle Eiten and Ken Torr. Although John’s role at Drovers changed to be cattle-centric rather than swine focused, his dedication to helping producers find ways to sell stock never wavered. For 12 years, John did just that until the Drovers fieldstaff dissolved in 1991. After Drovers, John worked briefly for the American Polled Hereford Association before the many nights away from his young family called him home to Ohio, where he joined a local country store called, Hochstettlers.
At Hochstettlers, he peddled pet feed, and at home, he and his wife Peg raised their children, Jay, MaeLyda and Emily. The livestock industry didn’t forget John’s marketing talents, though. Previous American Hereford Association (AHA) executive vice president Craig Huffhines called to see if he would work the ring at one sale. But, that one sale turned into another, then another, then another before John was offered a role as the AHA Upper Midwest Region field representative. On Aug. 1, 2000, he officially started with the Association.
Every state newsletter column John penned ends with the sentence, “Make your cattle better today because you have to market them tomorrow,” a sentiment John believed throughout his entire livestock marketing career. Whether a breeder registered two calves a year or 200 with the Association, John made himself available as a resource, sounding board and friend to AHA members. He worked hard to sell their animals both in the sale ring and privately, offered industry insights for advertising and breeding decisions and cheered on multiple generations of Hereford showmen and women.
Today, John’s home is in Jenera, Ohio. He and Peg live across the road from her parents, and the couple run a few crossbred cows and bale hay on their rolling, grassy acres. Looking back over his years as a field representative, often putting 50,000 to 60,000 miles on his car each year, he hopes to be remembered for one thing: fairness. No matter if you registered one animal or 200 animals, John wanted to treat everyone equally. The qualities John embodied as a member of the fieldstaff, are those worthy of his induction into the American Hereford Association Hall of Merit.