Popular Maquoketa livestock auction business finds new owners

Maquoketa Livestock Exchange

ADDRESS: 18140 W. Summit St., Maquoketa, Iowa

PHONE: 563-357-5650

FIRST SALE: Sept. 15

MAQUOKETA, Iowa — Livestock auctions will resume this fall at a popular Maquoketa business.

For decades, Maquoketa Livestock Sales served the cattlemen of the area. The business held its last sale in April after owner Bob Larkey died in December. Larkey and his wife, Myrna, founded the business in 1980.

The 33-acre property was sold in June to Dan Powers and business partner Mike Franzen, who also operate Powers Auction Service and Highway 64 Auctions in Baldwin.

The new Maquoketa Livestock Exchange plans to hold its first livestock auction Sept. 15.

The business will be managed by La Motte couple Kevin and Tammy Kilburg.

Kevin Kilburg said Larkey was a good friend and mentor. Kevin grew up around sale barns, as his father started working for Larkey 30 years ago.

Tammy Kilburg said operating a sale barn has been her husband’s dream for a long time.

Powers offered to help after hearing him discuss the Maquoketa business.

“Dan and I were talking about it one day,” Kevin Kilburg said. “He decided to step up and bid (on the property) to help me make my dream come true.”

The plan is for Kevin Kilburg to one day purchase the business.

“Dan said he wants to start slowing down,” Kevin Kilburg said. “He said, ‘You better get ready.’”

Kilburg said customers will recognize many familiar faces around the barn. Longtime employees, including Kevin Kilburg’s father, will be back.

“We’re getting a lot of old employees to come back,” Kevin Kilburg said.

Under Larkey’s ownership, the business focused on cattle. The new owners plan on growing the business with several new endeavors, including hay sales.

In the spring, they plan on bringing in sheep and goats.

“We have a lot of interest in that,” Kevin Kilburg said. “People are asking us about doing small animals like ducks and chickens.”

The business will try a small-animal sale. If it is successful, it might become a more regular occurrence.

Kevin Kilburg said the business also will introduce electronic clerking to cut down on paperwork and speed up checkouts.

“Nothing out back is going to change,” Kevin Kilburg said. “We are going to run it much the way the Larkeys did.”

On sale days, Tammy Kilburg will run T.J.’s Cafe at the sales barn, serving food and drinks.

“We are looking forward to working with the tri-state area,” Kevin Kilburg said. “We want to make life as easy as we can when they bring cattle in to sell.”