The next generation takes over TNT Simmental Ranch

Kevin and Lynette Thompson brought TNT Simmental Ranch to life in 1985. Now, their daughter, Shanon Erbele, and her husband, Gabriel, are taking over the reins, and their sale is for Feb. 10.

Shanon Erbele, Gabriel Erbele and Kevin Thompson stand with their sale bulls.
Shanon Erbele, Gabriel Erbele and Kevin Thompson stand with their sale bulls on Jan. 24, 2023, in Lehr, North Dakota.
Emily Beal / Agweek

LEHR, N.D. — Like many children on the ranch, Shanon Erbele always made sure she was in the thick of what was happening on the operation. From helping her parents feed the cattle to prepping the bulls for sale day, she played an integral part at TNT Simmental Ranch from an early age.

Her early seeded passion for ranch life and cattle made her decision to take over the reins of her parents' operation an easy one — she had been preparing for this her whole life.

Shanon Erbele chats among her bulls on Jan. 24, 2023, in Lehr North Dakota. She had a deep passion for the cattle industry at an early age.
Emily Beal / Agweek

“I grew up on the ranch and I just have an extreme passion for cattle and loved helping out my dad. I was always the kid in his back pocket and following him everywhere he went and so I could learn more about the cattle,” Erbele said.

Erbele’s parents, Kevin and Lynette Thompson, brought TNT Simmental Ranch to life in 1985, from scratch. Kevin Thompson grew up on his parent’s farm in Iowa. He had a desire to farm, but his parents sold off the family farm in the '70s.

The Thompsons started TNT Simmentals from scratch in the 1980s.
Emily Beal / Agweek

“We started with a dream,” Thompson said, “I knew starting from scratch we had to have a product that we could add value to.”


Thompson slowly started building up his own herd of cattle while working off the farm. When the time was right, they got into the seed stock business and began raising Simmental. Hard work played a vital role in TNT Simmental Ranch's success, but they were also graced with a little bit of luck.

“We were very fortunate, we moved into a community that we were renting and within a few years we had 5,000 acres rented within 4 or 5 miles from where we live,” Thompson said.

Kevin Thompson chats inside a cattle pen on January 24, 2023, in Lehr, North Dakota. He said he is handing over his operation to more than capable hands.
Emily Beal / Agweek

The original TNT Simmental Ranch is located in Almont, North Dakota, where the Thompsons still live. Now that Erbele and her husband, Gabriel, have begun to take over the operation, there is now a TNT Simmental Ranch location in Lehr, North Dakota, that they oversee. Between the two locations, the family calves out about 500 cattle.

Erbele has taken her new role in stride during the transition and wears many hats. She does the video and photography work and other important tasks that need to be done for a successful bull sale. Their 38th annual bull sale will take place on Feb. 10 and for the first time, the sale will be held in Lehr instead of Almont. About 100 bulls will be up for sale.

“I do all that behind the scenes work, as well as just having the passion for cattle to visit with the customers and to help them find what they really, really want in a bull that will help their program,” Erbele said.

TNT Simmental Ranch went through the '80s farm crisis and other hardships. Thompson believes he is passing the ranch over to more than capable hands.

TNT Simmental Ranch will have their 38th annual bull sale on Feb. 10. Photo taken Jan. 24, 2023, in Lehr, North Dakota.
Emily Beal / Agweek

“We couldn't be prouder that they're wanting to do what they're doing. They're doing an excellent job and have a real eye for cattle. And one of the biggest things in this business is you need to treat people the way you want to be treated, and I can tell that's what they're doing,” he said.

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Emily grew up on a small grains and goat farm in southern Ohio. After graduating from The Ohio State University, she moved to Fargo, North Dakota to pursue a career in ag journalism with Agweek. She enjoys reporting on livestock and local agricultural businesses.
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