PUEBLO, Colo. – Chad Berger’s alarm is normally set somewhere between 4 and 5 in the morning.
When it comes to what he time he goes to bed, well that is another story. The reigning PBR Stock Contractor of the Year will sometimes stay up way past midnight or even put in a 24-hour shift when necessary as he balances being a full-time cattle buyer and PBR Stock Contractor.
Berger is able to burn both ends of the candle because of a passion for bucking bulls and cattle that continues to keep himself lit with energy, desire and a drive to be the best in the business.
It isn’t uncommon for Berger to be at a cattle auction with a list of cattle he wants to purchase in one hand, a list of bulls he is debating on sending to a PBR event in the other and then his cell phone jammed between his ear and shoulder as he makes a series of phone calls.
“My day starts out early and it ends up late,” the 56-year-old said in San Jose, California, with deep bags under his sleep-deprived eyes. “But it makes the day go by. Hell, I wouldn’t know what else to do anyway.
“The will to win. I want to win. Every time I do something, I always want to win.”
That continued dedication was once again recognized by the PBR’s top bull riders this year as they voted Berger the 2017 PBR Stock Contractor of the Year for a fourth consecutive season.
More important, Berger has now won a PBR-record seven Stock Contractor of the Year awards.
“It is an honor,” Berger said. “And it is a lot of work. We are looking for bulls all the time. Keeping them healthy and maintained and figuring out which ones to take and leave one. It takes a lot of strategy to win this award. All of my sponsors. My partners. My family. None of this would be possible without them.”
PBR Director of Livestock Cody Lambert invited 34 of Berger’s bulls for next week’s PBR Built Ford Tough World Finals. Berger has produced over 550 outs with his bulls at Built Ford Tough Series events this year, according to ProBullstats.com.
His bull Pearl Harbor is currently the top contender for the 2017 World Champion Bull title.
“There is a lot of pride,” Berger said. “Our family takes pride in it. My wife and kids help out too. It is a day-to-day battle to keep this thing together. To have that many bulls come to a televised Built Ford Tough is an honor. In all of my awards I have won, I don’t think I have had as many good bulls as I have right now. It feels pretty good.”
Lambert said it is no surprise that Berger won this year’s Stock Contractor of the Year Award.
“It’s not even surprising anymore,” Lambert said. “There is no question. As great as a lot of stock contractors are, there is very few that are at that level. The Pages are unbelievable, but I have never seen anybody have as many really good bulls as Chad. He has a great eye for talent.
“Saying Chad is a great stock contractor is a real understatement. It is like saying Tom Brady is a great quarterback. When it should be said, that nobody has ever done it the way they do.”
Berger is quick to point out that he would not be celebrating a seventh Stock Contractor of the Year Award without the investment from partners such as Clay Struve, Julie Rosen, Mike and Christina Heald, Ken Barnhard, David and Mary Miller, David Currey and others.
He also is extremely thankful for the support of his wife, Sarah, his children and the efforts of his two bull-men Joey Hales and Rex Meier.
Berger understands this award is a reflection of everyone’s combined efforts.
“This isn’t possible without Joey and Rex hauling these bulls and taking care of them on the road and keeping them healthy so they can perform,” Chad said. “I am the head coach and I give out the orders and these guys take care of it.”
Berger always had set seven as his golden number.
The Mandan, North Dakota, native remembered when Ty Murray won his seventh PRCA World All-Around Championship in 1998.
“It goes back to when Ty Murray won his seventh all-around title,” Berger said. “Ty could say he is the only one that knows how it feels to win seven all around titles.”
The two accomplishments are very different, and are very much so on different pedestals, but Berger can now hold his head high knowing no one else has won seven Stock Contractor of the Year titles.
Murray said it isn’t hard to picture Berger winning more titles in the future because of his continuous passion for the sport.
“I used to always say when I was riding, I woke up thinking about it every day without trying to,” Murray said. “That was one of the big reasons I had the success that I had because I ate it up. I thought about it all day long without trying to. I see the same thing with Chad. He really loves it to that level, and he has for a long time.
“People like Chad have brought all kinds of people to this sport. The reason he is such an ambassador is because he loves it. He believes in it. It is easy to sell a product when you love and believe in it. That is what us as founders did and that is what he is still doing. That is what you see.”
Berger hopes to one day hand over the business to his children, but he said that we are still years away before he retires from the business.
He is still having too much fun in a business that his father, Joe, first got involved in during the mid-1960s. Joe introduced Chad to the stock contracting business as a kid, and Chad has only elevated the Berger name with the founding of Chad Berger Bucking Bulls in 2003.
Now that he has reached his goal of seven championships, what is next?
“I am enjoying it so much right now,” Berger concluded. “I would like to go another 10 years. I am not going to say I am going to win it every time, but I am going to give my best effort.
I want to go get as many as we can get and work as hard as we have to get it. If we lose, we lose. We will be back next year. We are not a flash in the pan. We are in this for the long haul.”
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