MONTANA’S BILL BOYCE
Even without his well-worn, wide-brimmed hat, there is something about Bill Boyce that makes you certain he is the real deal—a horse-riding, cattle-roping, born and bred, true-blue Montanan. Described by his colleagues as a “modern day cowboy”, the Western Ranch Brokers marketing team asked Bill a few questions to find out more about his experiences in both ranching and real estate.
Hailing from a fourth generation family of Montana ranchers, Bill Boyce has long been part of Montana’s farm and ranch community. His experiences in managing the family black angus operation for more than 30 years and as a calf roper and steer wrestler—both at Montana State University (MSU) and professionally—add a certain level of credibility to his knowledge of Montana and ranch real estate. Talking with Bill, it doesn’t take long to see that this guy can actually walk the walk—he knows Montana ranch life, because he lives it. When discussing how a background in ranching has impacted his approach to real estate, Bill says, “Everyone on the team at Western Ranch Brokers had previous experience in some aspect of ranching, it’s what drew us together. Having those real life experiences gives you confidence to really help a client, to help them make a good decision.” He adds that first-hand knowledge of the ranch industry, whether operational or recreational, goes a long way towards recognizing what a client’s goals really are and makes it easier to find a property that meets their needs.
“I think clients appreciate having somebody that’s been in the business, that has lived it. Instead of just an agent or someone that’s brokering something, we’re pretty intimate with the business of ranching, and clients truly want to know what our opinions are of each property—not just based on what you see or what you’ve heard, but based on what you know.”
He says often clients are guarded at first, but open up after “some honest conversation, when they can see that we have a solid grasp on the properties in Montana and how they’re used. They look to us for our ideas on the best use of the land. That demonstration of knowledge seems to set people at ease, which makes our job much easier.”
Bill mentions that his son, a senior in high school, recently said he is considering a career as a ranch broker after he graduates from college. Bill’s advice? Do something else first—get some life experience, whether it’s working on a ranch, for an outfitter or as a hunting guide. He says, “A real ranch broker to me, is not a kid that goes to college and thinks, ‘I want to be a ranch broker.’ It’s life experience and the things you do outside of real estate that help you build a solid knowledge base and that give you credibility in the industry.”
Practicing what he preaches, when Bill’s not selling ranches, he’s working on one. His days start with chores around the family ranch and tending to the horses he rides and trains—all before most folks have even had their morning coffee. Next up he checks in with the Western Ranch Brokers team to outline the day’s schedule, whether it’s lining up showings, writing up contracts or just following up with leads. With his youngest still living at home, Bill has a lot to balance between running multiple businesses and being a father—responsibilities he takes on willingly and gratefully. As we talk about how hard work seems to be woven into the fabric of ranch life, Haven Meged’s name comes up—the champion tie-down roper sponsored by Western Ranch Brokers in 2022. “We brought Haven on board mostly because I’ve known him since he was just a little kid and he’s got a work ethic that’s non-stop—that’s why he’s a world champion. That’s the kind of person we want to be affiliated with and that’s what we try to be. We don’t want anybody to out work us.” Bill attributes his own work ethic to growing up on a ranch, “There’s really no other way. It’s the lifestyle—you have to be willing to do the work. The ranch life just kind of breeds a hard-working person and hopefully the people we work with will feel that, and have confidence that we can help them.”
The rewards of all the early mornings and long days for Bill? He says it’s the connections he makes with his clients. Coming from a ranch family himself, he understands that owners often have to make difficult decisions when it comes to the legacy of their ranch. Being able to be there for a client during a difficult time makes the work that Bill does feel meaningful.
“I often work with people that have owned their ranches for a long time and have had to make the decision to sell part or all of it, because of their age or maybe their kids don’t want to come back and run the ranch. It’s sometimes uncomfortable for me at first, because I feel their pain. It’s very emotional. It’s often such a hard decision for them, but it’s really the only decision a lot of the time, and the one that makes the most sense. To be able to help someone make that transition and get through it, that’s important to me. In the end, they really appreciate what we’ve done.”
Bill notes that selling a ranch is often a complicated and emotional process, and that he is proud to be able to help clients make that transition successfully, and to help them move onto the next stage of their life.
Bill shares that his work as a ranch broker has influenced his perspective as a rancher, just as much as the reverse. He comments that as a rancher it’s easy to get very set in your ways, but working in the real estate business has forced him to step outside of his box and look at things from new angles “I think I’ve become more open-minded, and it’s made me better as a rancher, and better as a person too. I’ve become more compassionate after dealing with the many different types of people that we come across in the ranch real estate business.”
When it comes to advice for sellers, Bill recommends thinking through the decision to sell very carefully, taking care that it’s the right choice for everyone in the family, both now and in the future. Sellers should feel confident that “in two years you’re gonna look back and say, ‘as hard as it was, I’m glad we did this and I think we made the best decision.’” While he has no problem helping clients “iron out the wrinkles”, he says the sales process goes much more smoothly from both an emotional and legal standpoint when the entire family is on the same page from the start.
“You are doing yourself a huge favor if you can sit down with everybody in the family and have that conversation, even if it’s a hard one.“
For those ranch owners who do decide to sell in the near future, Bill expects a very competitive market thanks to the continued inventory shortage in Montana. “If you’re hoping you’re not too late to sell, you’re not.” Bill expects strong sales for Western Ranch Brokers in the year ahead, although he anticipates a slightly slower pace due to the limited inventory that is available.
When asking Bill what he was most proud of outside of his success at Western Ranch Brokers, he smiles and says that he knows he should probably say “his kids”, but instead touts his 25 years in the rodeo ring as something that has shaped him in a profound way. “I got to rodeo for 25 years all around the country and scratch that competitive itch for a long time. I learned a great deal about horses and about people during that time. It allowed me to break out of the ranch kid mold and see more of the world. It was a big part of my life and of who I am today.” Bill says he is just as competitive today as he was back in his rodeo days, he just moves a lot slower. Whether it’s a jackpot roping or selling or running ranches, Bill jokes that “everything in my life’s a race of some kind, just look at my old driving record for proof of that.”
When Bill takes the rare moment to slow down, he heads outdoors for a little R&R. Feeling a strong spiritual connection when he’s in the great wide open, Bill is also an avid elk hunter. For him, the season starts way before the elk begin rutting in September. “It’s a year-round process for me—I enjoy everything that leads up to archery season. I think the bull elk is a magnificent animal, and I spend a lot of my spare time learning more about their behavior and habitat.” Bill is also an experienced horseman, having been around horses since he was just a kid.
“I’ve made my living through horses one way or another for my whole life, and I’ve got a great appreciation for them. I’ve found the better horseman I become, the better human being I am as well. There is a direct correlation.”
Bill has several horses on his ranch, and says while they come and go, each animal has a unique personality and “every one of them will teach you a little something.” He adds that although horses don’t talk, they are always communicating. “It’s really about slowing down and getting out of your own head, it’s about listening so you can better understand them.”
Before we wrap up the interview with Bill, we ask him why he thinks Caleb and Jim call him a “modern day cowboy”. Almost blushing, Bill says that he doesn’t know, but he takes it as a compliment. “I value being a cowboy a great deal. It’s a big part of my heritage and I’ve been lucky to be able to pursue my passion for rodeos, horses and ranching.” Whatever the reason, Bill’s friendly demeanor, deeply ingrained understanding of ranch life and razor sharp business instincts seem pretty “modern cowboy” to us.
Connect with Bill and find out how Western Ranch Brokers can go to work for you.