GROWTH IN ALL AREAS OF LIFE
Family, country, state, local. All take a front seat in Bob Funk's life.
Growing up with a farm work ethic, when the opportunity to become a ranch owner presented itself, Bob Funk was enthusiastic and innovative as he began the process of changing another industry. Bob’s love for the cattle business started as a young child and he was excited when he started his Oklahoma cow herd in the late '80s and he has become a stalwart of the business since he first invested his time, money and energy into it. In 1996, an important chapter of Angus history began as Bob Funk and Jarold Callahan negotiated the purchase of the B&L Ranch near Shawnee, Oklahoma, and the B&L Angus cow herd from the Oklahoma Cattlemen’s Association Foundation. With that transaction, Angus cattle became a major part of the growth and expansion of the Express Ranches enterprise. And as the years have passed, the Limousin cowherd has been dispersed but the introduction of several Hereford Donors has created a foundation at Express Ranches for an outstanding future in the Hereford breed.
A few years later, after his tenure in academia as both a teacher and judging coach and a successful leadership role in the Oklahoma Cattlemen’s Association, Jarold Callahan joined Express Ranches as the Chief Executive Officer and the pace began to pick up. Uniquely located with ideal access to both a high percentage of the nation’s cow herd and a high percentage of the nation’s feedlot capacity, Express Ranches has become a crossroads for all segments of the beef industry. Five production sales each year share Express Angus and Hereford genetics with all types of cattlemen. The Express Scholarship Program is the platinum standard of all junior incentive programs as it moves into its third million of award presentations. Bob Funk believes in America’s youth.
Ranking as the largest seedstock operation in America based upon sales records compiled by Cattle-Fax and published by National Cattlemens' Beef Association (NCBA), Express will sell more than 5000 head of Angus and Hereford genetics during the year. Express Ranches is an active participant in every phase of the beef production process and has fed as many as 50,000 head of cattle per year. Even the relatively recent acquisition of the historic UU Bar and Mora Ranches, located just outside of Cimarron, NM, has added over 150,000 acres of high-altitude rangeland to Express Ranches. A production unit of commercial cows and calves plus 4,000 to 5,000 yearlings each summer will result in the testing of Express Ranches genetics under these semi-arid conditions that are not unlike many of our commercial customers to the south and west of us. The genetics being developed, tested and marketed by Express are required to satisfy the needs of every step in the production chain. Carloads of bulls shown at the Denver Stock Show and the sale of junior project cattle that compete in every level of competition force an ongoing emphasis on phenotype and structural soundness in the Express breeding programs. As the focus of the industry has shifted to added value from carcass genetics, the Express Ranch herd sires have set the standard for the industry with young sires set to push the bar even higher.
In addition to its bull sales each spring and fall, Express Ranches is among the industry’s largest sources of bulls sold at private treaty. Bred and open commercial females sell as part of the Express bull sales and customer sales hosted and managed by Express Ranches provide the opportunity for purchasers of Express Ranches genetics to sell both purebred and commercial females for premium prices. As the demand for bulls that feature Express genetics expands with each passing year, Express Ranches has become the beef industry’s largest source of seedstock females through the sale of the sisters to the industry leading Express Ranches bulls. At Express Ranches, you can expect to find the proven performance-based genetics that have set the standard of excellence for progeny feedlot performance and grid premiums.
In 1998, Bob Funk, owner of Express Ranches and CEO and Chairman of Express Employment Professionals, visited the longstanding Canadian Western Agribition in Regina, Saskatchewan. While visiting, he met and fell in love with the rare and beautiful black and white Clydesdales.
Mr. Funk saw an opportunity to bring something entirely new and different to his home state of Oklahoma, a state steeped in its own rich equestrian history. He intuitively knew that the Clydesdales would become an unusual tourist attraction. And they have! Not only do the Express Clydesdales meet thousands of visitors each year at home in the beautiful and historical Clydesdale barn (originally built in 1936 by H.I Grimes, an Oklahoma City oilman and farmer and restored especially for the Clydesdales by Amish carpenters in 1998), but they travel across North America as ambassadors for Express Employment Professionals and help raise millions of dollars for Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals and other charities. Each year, they star in some of the world’s most famous parades like Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, The Tournament of Roses Parade, The Chicago St. Patrick’s Day Parade and the Kentucky Derby Pegasus Parade, just to name a few. They’ve also had the extreme honor and pleasure of chauffeuring the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, Prince William and Kate, during a visit to Calgary in Alberta, Canada.
What the Express Clydesdales love doing most is meeting their friends and fans at home and on the road, and supporting community efforts along the way.
Visiting the Express Clydesdales at Home
The Express Clydesdale Welcome Center and barn is located in Yukon, Oklahoma, and is open to the public
Tuesday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and on Sundays from 12:30 to 5 p.m.
The barn features gleaming pine walls, walnut trim, brass coach lights and hosts numerous events that includes birthday parties and weddings throughout the year. From the loft, visitors have an expansive view of miles and miles of the rolling hills of Oklahoma farm land.