Dale Steenbergen, President/CEO of the Cheyenne Chamber of Commerce, Cheyenne, Wyoming.

Dale Steenbergen, President/CEO of the Cheyenne Chamber of Commerce, Cheyenne, Wyoming.

Growing up in a ranching household, you learn some things that you really don’t run across in the rest of the world.

Two of the most important items to know about if you buy or sell cattle are shrink and slide.

Shrink is the percent you sacrifice for the haul of cattle. In other words, the semi loads at your ranch and drives to the nearest scale to weigh the cattle. Whatever that weight is minus shrink is what you get paid on. Shrink is the negotiated amount (a percentage of weight that the cattle are expected to lose between now and their destination) that is subtracted from the total weight of the cattle. Slide is the amount of price increase or decrease you are given or are giving for what weight the cattle are compared to what you guessed or represented them to be.

An old cattle buyer in my hometown used to say he'd pay you whatever you wanted for your cattle as long as the shrink and slide were right. I don’t know if I would go that far, but they certainly are important and really can make a difference whether you will be eating steak or beanie weenies until the next calf crop.

You may be asking yourself, “What in the world does shrink and slide have to do with the Greater Cheyenne Chamber of Commerce?”

Well, I am glad you asked. At its core, it really is about knowing your business and who you are doing business with. Every business has its knowledge base. As a chamber director, I have seen many businesses that begin with a big splash but then soon sputter and die because they didn’t spend the time to learn the “shrink and slide” of their profession. By contrast, I have seen entrepreneurs that spend the time to learn their trade and end up with fantastic, sustainable businesses.

Cheyenne is blessed to have a culture that promotes intelligent business folks who know their stuff.

We have many businesses that know the ins and outs of their businesses and who have happy customers when their transactions are complete. They promote a culture of learning with their employees, and they know the things that impact their bottom line intimately. Additionally, many of these folks seem to have an instinct for their craft.

They are the ones constantly working to better their community and their business because they clearly understand we are all in this together.

I am thankful to live in a community that has many of these wonderful businesses. It’s because of them that Cheyenne is growing and thriving and is a great place to live.

Unfortunately, there are always pen hookers among us. (Put simply, pen hookers are folks who collude to set cattle prices artificially low). The government works as a pen hooker with overbearing regulation, individuals work as pen hookers when they try to scam businesses, and organizations play the pen hooker role when they work to force businesses to do things that aren’t in their best interest.

I am often asked what a Chamber of Commerce does. While I can’t speak for all chambers of commerce, I would say in this scenario that the Greater Cheyenne Chamber of Commerce works to mitigate pen hookers and provide the resources for the “shrink and slide.”

Factually, there is no other organization that exists only to defend your business and make our community better for all of us.

With all the turbulence in the world, I am truly grateful to live between the pristine prairies and the majestic mountains in this community called Cheyenne. I hope this Holiday season finds you being thankful for all that our community enjoys.

A cattle trader I have known since childhood was asked how to make a living in the cattle business. His response: “Buy’em lean and cheap, sell’em fat and high, and don’t let the shrink and slide take your old ladies spendin’ money!” Perhaps he wasn’t the most politically correct, but his sentiment was true.

I hope that this holiday season and the coming year is profitable, and that the knowledge and wisdom you need to truly make your business prosper is always at the forefront of your thoughts.

You do that and the chamber will watch out for the pen hookers. Together we will make Cheyenne an even better place to live, work, and do business.

Happy Thanksgiving!