Tom Rooney was a prominent Limousin consignor at the Iowa Beef Expo sales. Now, he spends the week on the other side of the ring, as part of the dedicated ring staff helping breeders and buyers.
As a supporter on both sides of the ring at the week-long event, he has been selected as the 2019 Friend of the Iowa Beef Expo.
Rooney represents the third generation of cattle producers at his family farm in Maxwell, Iowa. Rooney’s grandpa, James, started the cattle operation with a set of predominantly Angus commercial cows. Rooney’s first 4-H project began with a calf from that herd.
It might not have been a top-placing project, but it did spark the interest for Rooney to take the next step in the cattle business. The next year, Rooney and his dad, Jimmy, headed up the road to Greg Morrissey of Morrissey Cattle Company, for his guidance. Greg helped the young 4-Her learn about selection, grooming, hoof trimming and feeding his projects.
After graduating from Bondurant-Farrar high school in 1975, Rooney attended South Dakota State University to study and play baseball. After a year at
SDSU, Rooney’s grandfather passed away, in the winter of 1976, and he was asked to come back to the family farm. He attended Iowa State, getting his associate degree in animal science.
During his time at SDSU, the Limousin breed was popular in the Dakotas. Rooney credits dating the National Limousin Queen as his exposure to the breed. He instantly saw the value and in 1976, he and his dad purchased two heifers from the Dudley and Thompson herd in Hampton, Iowa.
With careful selection and breeding, the calves from those two females were Rooney Limousin’s first consignments to the Iowa Beef Expo sale in 1978. The heifer calf brought $2,100 and the bull $2,500, which in those days was quite a price.
Rooney continued to consign cattle each year thru 2012 as a way to market his multiple breed genetics.
One particular memory he shared was a trio of bulls that not only topped the Limousin breed sale, but all breeds as well. Those bulls included “TOMR World Class” in 1989, which fetched a price of $10,400. Then “TOMR Polled Investment” sold for more than $10,100 for half interest in 1990. And finally, in 1992, “TOMR Polled Look” bull sold for $10,600 for three-fourths interest.
Rooney consigned quality cattle and top-sellers to the Iowa Beef Expo Limousin sale over a 35-year span.
Rooney and his wife, Stacey, have been married 37 years and have three grown children and three grandchildren. Their oldest daughter, Shelley, is married to Jake Bettis and they have three children: Tenley, Teagan and Braylen. Shelley owns the Aveda Art of Life Salon and Spa in Urbandale. Her husband, Jake, is an area sales manager for Wells Fargo and they make their home in West Des Moines.
Their son, Todd, and his wife, Melissa, were recently married. Rooney had the unique opportunity to perform the ceremony in Mexico. They live in Morrison, Colorado. Todd is a manager for HomeAdvisors.com and Melissa works with Gana-A’Yoo Service Corporation.
The Rooney’s youngest, Trisha, was married in 2018 to Mike Brooks. They recently moved back to Iowa from the Chicago area. Trisha works at the National Pork Board in the communications department and Mike is a construction manager for the Weitz Corporation in Des Moines.
On the board
Over the years, Rooney has been active in the Limousin breed and on the Iowa Beef Breeds Council. He was a member on the Iowa Limousin board for numerous years and served the organization as president for two terms.
While active on the board and as a beef expo consignor, Rooney was the Limousin representative on the Iowa Beef Breeds Council, which oversees the expo event. Rooney remembers one valuable service the Iowa Beef Expo offered during his time on the board, the Trade In Used Bull Sale. A buyer could bring in his old herd bull to sell to a cattle buyer there that would give him top price, “and he would already have his trailer there to buy a new bull from one of the breed sales at the Expo,” Rooney said.
For 21 years, Rooney has served the Midwest cattle industry as the purebred sales representative for the Midwest Marketer. He helps purebred breeders market their cattle through the weekly publication and logs many miles serving as ring help for production and consignment sales.
Rooney talks about the great cattle and people you get to see doing a job like his, and a few years ago, he gained a partner.
“The long hours, many miles, and eating alone can take a toll. A few years ago, I convinced Stacey to leave her career in nursing to be my traveling partner,” he said.
He enjoys getting to see the country with her and sitting down to share food even in the busy sale season.
Rooney said Iowa Beef Expo afforded him the opportunity to follow his dream of working in the cattle industry and making a living for his family.
“Not only did I make a living by selling livestock through Iowa Beef Expo, it is where my first meeting with Lori Leonard occurred,” Rooney said.
“She was attending the expo 20 years ago to hire a livestock field man away from another publication to run the Midwest Marketer. After failing to get one man to change course over a beer, she said ‘Rooney, you would be good at this job.’ Two weeks later, I was hired. That move has given me the opportunity to work with cattlemen and women in all the breeds! So, you see the Iowa Beef Expo has played a huge part in my life.”