Eric was raised in central Colorado where he was active in 4H, high school football, rodeo, and operated several local businesses with his brother. After graduation, Eric attended Montana State University where he was recruited to play football for the Bobcats. Due to injuries, Eric’s dream of college football greatness was not fulfilled, but by that time, he was sure that Montana was where he wanted to be. In college, Eric majored in Ag Business with a minor in Animal Science. He was president of Alpha Gamma Rho Fraternity, traveled to Denver and Idaho on the MSU collegiate livestock judging team, and managed the beef unit at the MSU Ag Experiment Station at Bozeman.
The next three years were spent in southwest Kansas, where Eric worked for one of the largest cattle feedyards in the nation. By the time he left to return to Montana, Eric was managing a department that had 18 employees and a million dollar operating budget. Eric returned to Montana in 1996, where he found a job managing a small feedyard east of Miles City. In the subsequent 14 years, Eric has built Solaris Feeders into one of the largest cattle feeding companies in the state that also operates a ranch & farm, employs 10 families, and pushes over 4 million dollars worth of commerce through the local economy every year. Eric co-owns this business as well as having interests in a feed manufacturing company, and a branded beef marketing corporation, where he serves on the board of directors.
More importantly, when Eric came back to Montana he became re-acquainted with an old friend from college, Lea Anderson. Lea was teaching in Manhattan, and Eric soon found his fuel bills greatly increased because on his few days off, his pickup seemed to head west on I-94. Eric and Lea were married in 1998, and have two kids, Maci, age 12, and Andy, age 9. Lea was the event coordinator for the Montana Stockgrower’s Association’s 125 anniversary celebration in Miles City in 2009. She formerly served as chair of the boards of Holy Rosary Healthcare Foundation and Let Me Shine Preschool of First Lutheran Church in Miles City. She is Past-President of the Custer County Republican Women, and currently serves as a director for the MSU Alumni Association.
Eric had the opportunity to serve 4 years on the board of directors of the Montana Stockgrower’s Association, where he gained valuable experience in lobbying on behalf of ranchers’ interests in Helena. He is the president of the Montana Cattle Feeders’ Association, serves on the Montana Beef Council, and is on the advisory committee of US Bank of Miles City. Eric’s business is a strong supporter of the MSU Steer A Year program, the Miles Community College Steers For Pioneers Program, and Custer County 4H and FFA.
Eric and Lea are very grateful to the southeastern Montana community for taking them in and allowing them the opportunity to live such a rich, rewarding life out in the fresh air and wide open spaces of the gumbo badlands.