By all accounts John Growney was not destined to be a rodeo stock contractor. As part of the fifth generation of the Growney family in Red Bluff he should have sold cars for Growney Motors, the business his grandfather started in 1922. But, John chose another path, he took the rodeo trail.
John and his brother Mike started riding bulls and broncs in high school. They competed at the amateur level and then turned pro. In 1975 they started acquiring a few bucking horses and some bulls, eventually they gathered enough stock to produce some high school, college, and amateur rodeos. That same year, Don Kish was a junior in high school and was winning more than his share of rough stock events. He teamed up with John and Mike to form Growney Brothers Rodeo Company.
The vision of being a stock contractor for the Professional Rodeo Cowboy’s Association became a reality in 1979. With the help of a benevolent loan officer at Bank of America they borrowed enough money to buy out RSC Rodeo Company. RSC was the rodeo business owned by Jack Roddy, Jack Sparrowk, and Bob Cook and well known in the industry for their high powered bucking bulls including the “Oscar” line.
John and Don were involved in all aspects of the business. They would meet with committees, gather the stock, haul the stock, set up the arena, produce the event, and haul the stock home. When they weren’t at a rodeo, John and Don would be taking care of the animals. Mike was selling cars for his dad during the week and helping with the rodeos on the weekends.
As the business grew, Don took over the bull breeding program and John concentrated on the horses. They prided themselves in good animal health and good solid breeding programs to produce the some finest animal athletes in the rodeo industry.
Each year since 1981, Growney Brothers Rodeo Company has provided stock to the National Finals Rodeo. They are credited with providing more horses and bulls to the NFR than any other rodeo company in the west. On ten occasions John has been nominated “Stock Contractor of the Year” and in 2000 he was awarded that title.
Over the years, some aspects of the business have changed. Brother Mike stepped away from the rodeo business to manage Growney Motors. Don has brought the bucking bulls to a new level of competitiveness with his heard health and breeding programs. Tim Bridwell has picked up the reins of the bucking horse operation. John handles the business and promotional end of Growney Brothers Rodeo Company.
Growney doesn’t take the credit for his success in the rodeo industry. He readily recognizes the co-workers, cowboys, committeemen, friends and family who have made his dream a reality. He says he is not ready for the whistle yet. He plans to keep on providing stock and producing rodeos as long as the committees will hire him.