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The AX Story
Beyond a mark of ownership, the AX brand is part of Montana’s rich and storied cowboy heritage...
By Kevin Spafford, for Farm Futures Magazine
By Kevin Spafford, for Farm Futures Magazine
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From a homesteader’s humble beginnings in 1888, through Stan and Nancy today, the Weavers trace their agrarian pedigree back five generations. And, with a little luck, a good plan, and concerted effort by the family, the AX will continue to personify the Weavers for generations to come.
A few months ago, I received a catalog for the 20th Annual Weaver Quarter Horse production sale. Given my profession, the introduction captured my interest. It read, “2015 marks the 127th year the Weaver family has been raising horses in Montana.” Though not unheard of, five generations in agriculture is very rare. I wondered, what does it take to outlast Montana’s brutal winters and how does a family operation thrive in such an unforgiving environment?
With a little research, I learned the Weaver Ranch raises Registered American Quarter Horses, runs cattle, and farms grain on 15,000 acres in the Bear Paw Mountains of North-Central Montana. The ranch website says, Stan’s Grandfather Elmer, “made a notable western heritage contribution by being a good businessman, horseman, and cattleman.” [He] “left a legacy by settling and improving the land that made it possible for those who came after to continue in the ranching lifestyle.”
As they say, ‘the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree.’ Today, Stan continues this longstanding Weaver tradition. He and Nancy readily acknowledge that breeding champion horses takes hard work and dedication. It also requires an uncanny level of risk-taking ability. As among gamblers, the horse breeding world is rampant with stories of quick fortune and tales of devastating loss.
To be successful over the long haul in ranching or farming, regardless of commodity, requires a healthy dose of leadership traits. Together, Stan and Nancy exemplify those characteristics necessary for success in any endeavor, including:
- Devotion – As with any other worthwhile objective, success in the horse breeding industry requires being ardently dedicated and loyal. A leader must be devoted to achievement and willing to do whatever it takes to succeed.
- Perseverance – Challenge is the rule rather than the exception, success is borne of continued effort despite difficulties, failure, or opposition. A leader doesn’t fail less often than others; a leader gets up more times than s/he fails.
- Adaptability – By any definition, change, improvement, or development is part of adjusting to new realities in the environment. A leader expects to adjust and grow, based on what may be necessary to succeed in a given situation.
- Goal orientation – Goals are an end, a destination if you will, toward which all effort is directed. They are a key to success and signal commitment to a future bigger than the past.
- Execution – Otherwise known as good old fashioned hard work, execution is the act of doing or performing something. A leader applies extra effort and does whatever it takes to achieve success.
As is evident in most leaders, Stan and Nancy’s contribution to the industry and dedication to others isn’t restricted to the show ring. They’re both active in the local community. They contribute to the industry, and they strive for continual improvement. In 2014, the Weaver Family was chosen as the Montana Family Business of the year and recognized for over 50 years in continuous operation. Stan is a national director for the American Quarter Horse Association (AQHA), he serves on the AQHA Executive Committee, and Chair’s the Rancher’s Heritage Council.
Nancy serves on the Central Montana Medical Center Advisory Board and Chairs the Montana Cowboy Poetry Gathering and Western Music Rendezvous. She’s also on the Board of Trustees for the Western Heritage Center. As if that isn’t enough, she owns Weaver Ranch Properties, a real estate brokerage in Lewistown. In her words, she does “What it takes to find happiness and peace in the land for her clients.”
Leadership isn’t something you do. It’s something you are and it’s exemplified in manner and methodology. It’s recognized in the way you do business and the way you treat others. It’s acknowledged in your accomplishments and effected by service to others. Leadership isn’t just behaviors; it’s a way of life.
Published as ''The AX Story", by Kevin Spafford for "Farm Futures" magazine, Decembefr 2015.
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