Robert A. “Bob” Funk was born and raised in Duvall, Washington, where his father worked for the county highway department and he was raised in a family of modest means with a strong Christian foundation. Bob’s exposure to cattle began with his work on his cousin’s farm at 14 years of age and he continued working at the dairy through his high school years. It was there that Bob developed his agriculturally based work ethic and his love for cattle.
After high school, where he was a member of FFA and played basketball and tennis, Bob enrolled at Seattle Pacific University where he completed a Bachelor of Arts degree in business administration and theology. Following his undergraduate studies, Bob completed graduate work for his advanced degrees in business administration and theology from Seattle Pacific University. An integral part of his graduate work was a year’s study of theology at the University of Edinburgh in Scotland—quite an experience for a young man from a rural community in Washington.
A true “people person,” Funk spent the first 17 years of his early career in the personnel business working for Acme Personnel, a Washington-based personnel services firm, starting as a personnel consultant and rising to first vice president. When the company’s president died unexpectedly, Funk and two colleagues purchased and operated several franchises of Acme which ultimately became Express Personnel Services.
In 1983, the partners began arranging to franchise Express and that first year generated gross revenues of $2 million in spite of the depressed economy created by the devastating downturn in the oil industry. In 1983, as a result of the bankruptcy of Acme, the partners acquired the franchise rights to 23 Acme offices across the United States. The number of Express Personnel Franchise has grown from this modest beginning to more than 800 franchises.
Having spent his youth working with cattle, when the opportunity to buy land and get involved in the cattle business presented itself, Bob Funk jumped in with the same drive and determination that he used to build his primary business and he selected Limousin cattle for his first venture into the purebred seedstock business. More than two decades ago, an important chapter of in the history of Express Ranches began with the addition of Angus cattle as Bob Funk and Jarold Callahan negotiated the purchase of the B&L Ranch near Shawnee, Oklahoma, and the B&L Angus cowherd from the Oklahoma Cattlemen’s Association Foundation.
With that transaction, Angus cattle became a major part of the growth and expansion of the Express Ranches enterprise. A few years later, after his tenure in academia as both an animal science professor and judging team coach at Oklahoma State University and a successful stint as the Executive Vice President of the Oklahoma Cattlemen’s Association, Jarold Callahan joined Express Ranches as the Chief Executive Officer and the growth of Express Ranches moved into high gear.
Today, Express Ranches is an active participant in every phase of the beef production process and has fed as many as 50,000 head of cattle per year and owns an interest in the 30,000 head capacity Xcel Feedyard near Watonga, Oklahoma. The addition of the historic UU Bar Ranch located just outside of Cimarron, New Mexico, added over 164,000 acres of high-altitude rangeland to Express Ranches. A production unit of commercial cows and calves plus 4,000 to 5,000 yearlings have allowed the testing of Express genetics under these semi-arid conditions that are not unlike that experienced by many of its commercial customers.
The genetics developed, tested and marketed by Express are designed to satisfy the needs of every step in the production chain. Carloads of bulls shown at the Denver Stock Show and the sale of junior project cattle that compete in every level of competition have led to an ongoing emphasis on phenotype and structural soundness in the Express breeding programs.
Express Ranches has been recognized by the beef industry’s scorekeepers at CattleFax as the largest producer of registered seedstock for nine consecutive years. From 2010 through the closing of the fiscal year of the American Angus in September 2018, Express Ranches has been the member that registered more Angus cattle than any other. Being named the Roll of Victory Angus breeder of the year for the 2011-2012 show season, Express has won that honor again EVERY year since then.
Serving eight years as a director and officer of the American Angus Association, Jarold was instrumental in the creation of the Angus Genetics Inc. subsidiary of the association that collects and processes the phenotypic and genomic data for the Angus breed and manages the largest combined beef cattle genetics genotype and phenotype database in the world. As an early adopter of the use of genomic testing to eventually lead to higher accuracy genomic-enhanced EPD data for improved breeding and selection of Angus cattle, Express has collected and invested in having more than 20,000 DNA samples processed and tested from its registered Angus herd.