The job of a PRCA stock contractor is a difficult one, with 1,000 moving pieces to a business that is often thankless and downright hard.
From buying, breeding and raising stock to producing rodeos and managing a large staff of workers, the duties of a contractor are numerous and varied. It can be a tough way to make a living, but the business is a labor of love they wouldn’t trade for anything.
That’s what I found while going behind the scenes at Pete Carr’s operation in Athens, Texas, just outside Dallas. Carr owns and operates Pete Carr Pro Rodeo and Pete Carr’s Classic Pro Rodeo – which he bought from good friend Scotty Lovelace in 2013 – providing stock to more than 40 rodeos each year.
All told, Carr has nearly 50 bulls and 300 horses in his rotation, rearing and cultivating them on a cozy 900-acre ranch. From there, the talented buckers and roughly 60 steers are hauled to rodeos throughout Texas and across the country, where they routinely perform at high levels and help contestants frequent the pay window.
It is a highly successful business Carr has built through the years from meager beginnings, when he and Lovelace were just trying to make it in the competitive world of stock contracting and working to buy their PRCA cards.
“I wanted to stay involved (in rodeo), so I started buying animals,” Carr said at the Parker County Frontier Days Pro Rodeo in Weatherford, Texas, in mid-June. “We were hardworking, blue-collar dudes. It was fun for me to stay involved, help him and help his company.”
Carr is no stranger to success, having built his general contracting construction company, Resource Commercial, into a healthy and profitable business the last 20 years. It was a slow and methodical process to do the same with his stock contracting exploits.
Carr rode barebacks in high school and competed at amateur rodeos in the early 1990s. That’s where he and Lovelace forged a friendship that blossomed and served as the foundation for the stock contracting successes they’ve enjoyed.
After he quit riding in 1993, Carr partnered with Lovelace to produce pro rodeos, and they were off and running. In 2004, Carr bought James Harper’s operation, and it was called Harper, Morgan & Carr, with Lovelace working as the general manager and 10-time PRCA Stock Contractor of the Year Stace Smith helping out as a pickup man and filling other duties.
They hired Rory Lemmel to take over as GM, and Carr bought the Walls’ rodeo company, further expanding his reach in the industry. One of the group’s horses, Real Deal, won PRCA Bareback Horse of the Year in 2005, and Carr and Lovelace had become regulars at the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo.
Fast-forward to 2013, when Lovelace sold the business to Carr, and he has worked diligently to make sure the momentum they created together continues for years to come. In 2013, no contractor had more animals bucking at the Wrangler NFR than Carr’s outfits.
“It took a long time to get this deal done,” Carr said. “Whenever you make that kind of acquisition, there’s always some hills and valleys, but for the most part, it’s been good.”
The process to get Carr where he is today has been a long, protracted one, but has allowed him to learn everything he needed to know about the rodeo contracting and production business.
“I had such an education coming up, and I went to Scotty’s rodeos before I even quit riding,” Carr said. “Then, when we did the Harper deal, I got a PhD in promotions, putting on a rodeo, production, how to make money and what sells – from cotton candy, to weezers to t-shirts.
“When I bought the Walls’ deal, it was pretty easy, and when I bought Scotty’s deal, I had enough understanding of everything that there wasn’t any question I knew what I was getting into.”
He is grateful to have had the chance to gain invaluable experience that way.
“It’s been good for me to kind of build things,” he said. “I didn’t just jump out there and get thrown in the grease, got my butt kicked and went limping back home. I’ve been fortunate enough to bite off as much as I want that worked for me, and when I was able I could do this. I’m really having a good time.”
Working in the rodeo business and dealing with genuine, dedicated people, Carr says, is the most rewarding aspect of what he does.
“I’m a people person, so it’s definitely the people,” Carr said. “I like interacting with the committees, the contestants, the local media or whoever. Everybody who’s here wants to be here, and they’ve all made a conscious decision to be here. Nobody’s stuck in a position, and everybody’s excited about being here.
“I like being around positive people, so that’s good.”
The business has also enabled Carr to become involved in a number of charity initiatives, and being able to give back is something that also gives him joy.
“We had a big exceptional rodeo here last night, and there was 91 kids out there,” Carr said in Weatherford. “It was just phenomenal. It’s good to be able to interact with those kids.
“That makes you feel good about what you’re doing. You have a purpose and a direction, and there’s a reason why you’re here.”
He also loves watching his animals buck, especially at the Wrangler NFR.
“That’s pretty cool,” he said. “You watch them grow up, and they’re kind of like your kids. It’s kind of like being at a football or soccer game watching your kids, and when they do well, your chest gets pretty square.”
And when they win a round in Las Vegas, it’s an exhilarating thrill. Carr is grounded enough to realize that luck also plays a role in success at that level.
“That’s luck, because there are so many great animals there,” he said. “The right guy has to have the right stock, and they’ve got to click. Some years, we’ve done real well, and some years, it makes you appreciate getting (the round buckles).”
Carr knows success can be fleeting, so he enjoys it as much as possible.
“You’ve got to work at it, and I don’t take anything for granted, because it can be gone just like that and things can go South in a hurry,” he said. “So, I just appreciate what I have and what I’ve been given and try to make the most of it.”
Carr’s dedication to excellence is what drives him, and he has big goals for growing his business in the future. It all comes from his mother, Jimmie, who lost a battle with cancer in 2010.
“It’s just a work ethic that my mother instilled in me from watching her get up and work two or three jobs,” he said. “She’s always up there pushing me.”