Born in 1929 in Stuart, Nebraska, and raised in Bassett, Mr. Engler established a strong work ethic as he milked cows and peddled milk to his neighbors. Those early customers, who demanded consistent performance, formed the basis for his approach to business and life – work hard and be totally dedicated to your business and industry. At 13, Mr. Engler borrowed the money to purchase and manage his first 100 head of cattle. He graduated from high school at age 15, and using proceeds earned from that initial cattle investment, he enrolled in Animal Husbandry at the University of Nebraska. He graduated in seven semesters.
In 1960, Mr. Engler was in Hereford, Texas, loading cattle onto a train bound for Nebraska. Another train, loaded with milo and feeder cattle was headed to California. The two primary resources needed to establish a viable cattle feeding industry were being exported out of the state. Shortly thereafter, Mr. Engler returned to the Texas Panhandle and demonstrated the economic viability of large-scale cattle feeding operations when he founded Hereford Feedyard. After a short stint working for IBP as vice-president in charge of their carcass division from 1972 to 1975, Mr. Engler established Cactus Feeders, the largest privately owned cattle feeding company in the world. This $750 million commercial cattle feeding company has more than 500 employee-owners and a one-time cattle feeding capacity of 520,000 head with 10 cattle feedyards located throughout the Texas Panhandle and southwest Kansas. In 1998, the company went international with the creation of Cactus Argentina.
Mr. Engler is credited as the creator of "formula" pricing in 1987. This precursor to "grid" marketing changed how cattle value was determined and is credited with indirectly increasing consumer sales of beef and reestablishing beef's dominance on the dinner plate.
Numerous awards have been bestowed upon Mr. Engler for his many and varied contributions to the beef industry. He's considered a "Top 40 Beef Industry Giant", received the Cattle Business of the Century Award, the Industry Advancement Award, and the National Cattlemen's Beef Association Vision Award. He was an initial inductee to the Cattle Feeders Hall of Fame and the first recipient of the Industry Achievement Award. He is also a member of the National Cowboy Hall of Fame and the Meat Industry Hall of Fame. There are far too many awards to name, but Mr. Engler credits his experiences as a student and graduate of the University of Nebraska for providing the incentive needed for the many things he accomplished during his career.
The Block and Bridle Hall of Fame honors individuals who have made commendable contributions to Nebraska agriculture. Recently, Mr. Engler worked with UNL officials to establish the Engler Agribusiness Entrepreneurship Program in support of ambitious, entrepreneurial students at UNL. As a Nebraska native, his life was spent actively promoting the cattle industry, and he created and designed many operational and technical innovations that significantly changed an industry – a cattle feeding industry that is critically important to Nebraska.