What takes two farm kids from Maryland and catapults them to multiple National Champion Titles in both the Livestock Judging & Show Arenas? A combination of fierce competitiveness, family and love for what they do.
“If you love it that much, there’s zero reason you cannot accomplish it.”
Chris and Randy Mullinix’s lives are our version of the American Dream. They grew up 30 minutes West of Baltimore and 1 hour outside of Washington D.C. They were raised on a farm family consisting of their mom Charlotte, dad Gene, three older siblings, Doug, Mark and Beth, and younger brother Patrick. 100% of the Mullinix family’s income came from their work in Agriculture. They worked the land and the majority of their dad’s day-to-day was spent working their two grain elevators. Chris and Randy’s passion, however, was on the animal side of it. The Mullinix’s primarily raised cattle. They did not feed the huge numbers like you see out West, but for their area, it was a relatively large feed yard along with a smaller cow herd.
Chris and Randy started building their Hereford breeding program at the age of 10 or 11. They worked on everything together from such a young age, including making the mating decisions for their operation. Chris reflects how they fell flat on their face growing up, but they never settled for average. If they were going to do something, they were raised to do it right. With every failure, they went back to the drawing board to come back stronger.
The pair never showed outside of Maryland until they attended their first Junior National Hereford Expo in 1987. They exhibited three head. All three stood at the bottom of their classes. They went home, however, not with their tail between their legs, but with a plan. Through hard work and dedication, the next time they exhibited at JNHE, it was with a 2nd place finish and Top 10 Showmanship Honors. In fact, after winning the Quiz Bowl as a team of two (as they were the only exhibitors from Maryland), the Hereford’s made a rule requiring a three-man team. Their mentality to always better themselves and achieve their goals has led them to be two very influential people in our industry today.
Chris and Randy were as fierce a pair of competitors as you will ever be around.
“The first person I tried to beat every day of my life was my brother [Randy] and he did the same with me. I am proud of that. We ultimately chose different paths in the livestock industry, but I strongly believe that a great deal of the success we both have had can be attributed to that part of our life” Chris reflected.
This competitive nature did not begin and end in the show ring. Once Chris knew there was an opportunity to compete in livestock judging, he was all in. After being on the 4-H State Judging team at the age of 15 he then dedicated his final year in 4-H to Dairy Judging on one of the country’s most elite Dairy judging programs [as he was unable to compete in livestock judging after making the state team at a younger age]. Then he set his sights on a 4-Year University as Ag Programs at the Junior College level were non-existent in his part of the country.
A big influence in his life was Dr. Scott Schaake. Around the time that Chris was on his State’s 4-H Livestock Judging Team, Schaake was working on his PhD at the University of Kentucky while also serving as the University’s livestock judging coach. In that same time frame, he was the judge at the Maryland State Fair. Mullinix admired how Schaake evaluated livestock, who he was as a person, and it was definitely something that intrigued him to look into a program Schaake was coaching [the University of Kentucky at that time] and seek his advice. After looking into multiple options, Chris decided that Kansas State University was the right fit for him.
As fate would have it, when Chris started as a Freshman at K-State, Dr. Scott Schaake received the job as the next Livestock Judging Coach there.
“A couple of years later when it was my turn to become a member of that team, I got to have him as my coach as well. It’s amazing how things come together, and I felt very very fortunate that I was able to work with him and learn from him as well.” Chris stated. “Maybe a little Divine intervention landed me where I am [in Kansas].”
Chris was a member of the 1995 K-State’s National Champion Livestock Judging Team while also being named High Individual. Throughout his stint at K-State, he was a member of the Dairy Judging Team, Wool Judging Team, Livestock Judging Team, AGR and multiple Student Organizations.
Many opportunities were presented to Chris due to his decision to go to K-State. One of which was being offered the head judging coach position at Butler Community College right out of college. He spent 16 years in El Dorado where he coached multiple National Champion Livestock Judging Teams and influenced countless individuals who have gone on to make their own marks on the livestock industry.
“I had an administration that gave me an opportunity at 22/23 years old, gave me my first job I ever had, to take the reins of that livestock judging program and build it how I saw fit. I didn’t realize how lucky I was at the time, but I sure do now. Boy did we have an amazing run. Some of my best friends were also my students. The list of people that I have had the opportunity to coach, now to see what they are doing in their own careers, in the livestock business and judging major shows has been pretty cool.” Chris explained.
In 2013, Mullinix made the move from El Dorado to Manhattan where he still serves as the Livestock Judging Coach for K-State. Last November, he led that team to victory as the National Champion Livestock Judging Team. The win made Chris the third person in history to win the National Championship as an individual, on a team and as a coach. Joining Dr. Scott Greiner and his mentor and former coach Dr. Scott Schaake with the historic feat.
When asked what’s next, Chris said, “I just don’t know any more if there is another step in this part of my career that can outdo the two that I have been fortunate to have. I hope we can continue to do the same things that K-State has been built on long before I was here. The things that Dr. Don Good [K-State Livestock Judging Coach 1948-1966] helped to put into place that Dr. Scott Schaake continued to build upon. I just feel lucky to be the next person asked to maintain that tradition. I feel very fortunate from a career standpoint the place that I am in and the things it has afforded me to do. I hope we can continue to build on that, continue to bring great people here to K-State and knock out a couple more National Championships before it’s all said and done.”
Chris is a leader in the livestock arena, a coach, a husband to his wife Elissa and a father to his three children Mason, Kinsley and Cameron. As he reflected on his life, his accomplishments, and his new role as a show dad with his oldest son starting to show, the competitiveness, family and love that drive him day-in and day-out are evident.
Last November, when his team was named National Champions at Louisville, it was the first awards banquet that his parents had missed since he started coaching – and they would have been there if it had been opened to everyone.
“At 46-years-old my parents still show up. That’s how much it means to my family.” Chris stated.
The competitiveness between Chris and Randy has only gotten stronger over the years. With that competitiveness comes respect. They drive each other to be the absolute best that they can be.
“Quite honestly, if you look back 30 plus years ago, the odds are probably completely stacked against two kids from Maryland ever doing the things that we are doing. And yet, if you want it, work hard at it, in the right environment, with the right people around you, then there is no reason you can’t, and shouldn’t, accomplish whatever you put your mind to. Don’t ever let anyone stand in your way or tell you can’t accomplish it. The two of us [Randy & I] are prime examples of people who had found what we loved and made careers out of it that most people would have said could never have happened.” Said Chris. “If you love it, go for it.”