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Building Connections With the Brandons on the “Tolleson-Mack” Podcast
Arizona’s Brandon Shelton and Brandon Brown are running businesses, raising families and bringing behind-the-roping-scenes fun to their podcast, “Tolleson-Mack.”
standing shoulder to shoulder behind a table: 2022 PRCA Rookie of the Year Junior Zambrano, Brandon Brown, Cowgirl Hall of Famer Lari Dee Guy, Brandon Shelton and nine-time NFR heeler Cesar de la Cruz.
2022 PRCA Rookie of the Year Junior Zambrano, Brandon Brown, Cowgirl Hall of Famer Lari Dee Guy, Brandon Shelton and nine-time NFR heeler Cesar de la Cruz.

Rodeo couldn’t ask for bigger fans or better advocates than a pair of team roping Brandons from Arizona who’ve built their own successful businesses.

Since the days Brandon Shelton dated Brandon Brown’s sister back in high school, Shelton has served as a friend and mentor to the younger Brown. Today, both are married entrepreneurs whose kids are playing every youth sport at the highest level. That doesn’t leave a lot of time for the buddies to jackpot, but they do like to rope when possible at their local arena in Tolleson, Arizona.

How the “Tolleson-Mack” Podcast Got Its Start

They started calling the arena the “Tolleson-Mack” as a play on “Thomas & Mack”—the Las Vegas home of the NFR—because guys like Matt Sherwood and Cesar de la Cruz have been known to practice there. In fact, Brown’s quirky sense of humor is evident in every conversation of their new podcast co-hosted by de la Cruz (available as “Tolleson-Mack” on YouTube or Spotify). Recent from-the-arena guests at the studio included World Champion Header Erich Rogers and Cowgirl Hall-of-Famer Lari Dee Guy.

“We also recently had on Shae Hillenbrand, the Major League Baseball All-Star who lost $20 million to dope and is now back on top as a motivational speaker,” said Brown, 36.

The podcast gives Shelton and Brown a fun respite from working their tails off.

“Going over to the studio reminds me so much of just pulling up with buddies under a shade tree and shooting the breeze on the tailgate,” Shelton, 45, said. 

TRJ editor Chelsea Shaffer joins episode 4 of the Tolleson-Mack podcast ⤵️

Shelton raises cattle on his ranch near Yuma, Arizona, and retails the beef after running it through his Cattlemen’s Processing plants in Willcox and Deming, New Mexico. 

“We sell beef to restaurants and the public, and are looking at expanding into other avenues like shipping direct to consumers,” he said. “Before I got into beef processing, I was a fourth-generation farmer and my dad and brother still do that.”

Meanwhile, Brown owns and operates K-B Farms, raising hay and corn and offering custom baling from Scottsdale to Buckeye. Brown also once contracted ProRodeo roping steers, including Tucson and the Mike Cervi Jr. Memorial. That’s how he met de la Cruz. Over the past couple of years, Brown began farming full-time and sold the roping steers to Tanner Baldwin’s father-in-law.

“I love team roping,” Brown said. “When I got done with the steers, I missed bumping shoulders with those guys, so I called Brandon and said, ‘Let’s start a podcast. Cesar will have the connections to give us traction, so we’ll build it and see where it goes.’”

Making Connections

Connections, actually, are under their nose. The ropiest bunch of young guns to come out of Arizona in one decade are incidentally now about Shelton’s age. He never even realized that Brye Sayer, who works for him, was the 1994 Resistol Rookie Header of the Year. 

Wolfy Arizona boys won a staggering three national high school team roping titles and two Resistol Rookie of the Year awards in five years, including Nick Sarchett, Brye and Kyon Sayer (who lives in Colorado now), Chance and Clay Kelton, Brandon Wallace and Trey Miller. Joining them were guys like Shad Chadwick, Shawn Grant and one more who partners on cattle with Shelton. Brian Adams was so rank as a ’90s teenager he could have matched and beat anyone. A few of these 10 men would go on to rope inside the Thomas & Mack. Others chose different routes. 

Because honestly, coming out in the black as a pro team roper is so hard that it’s ludicrous to Shelton and Brown. They’ve worked hard for their success, but feel blessed they had the opportunity. Why, they wonder, doesn’t someone advise the best ropers in the world to save some sponsorship dollars in an investment account, or help them coordinate lucrative private lessons? So they’re doing that, too. 

Business Savvy

One recipient is “Little Michael” Calmelat—the sport’s youngest-ever 9.5 heeler.

“Outside of the checks we write Little Michael, what’s more important is to guide him in the right direction so, when he’s 40 and used to be the best in the world, he can have a business or some investments paying him to continue doing what he likes,” Shelton said.

It’s similar to the advice he was able to give Brown, as he got going in business.

“I’m really proud of Brandon and what he put together,” Shelton said. “He didn’t get it handed to him like a lot of guys do. We don’t come from these families where each generation hands the next one thousands of acres. I help him when I see a way, and he has some trucks and helps me with those sometimes.”

Between meat packing and hay baling, the pair looks forward to hosting some epic matches between Open ropers at the “Tolleson-Mack” arena. They’d also love to remote-broadcast from, say, the South Point in December. 

“We’re just the casual roper,” Shelton said. “In what other sport can you invite pros to your own yard? Nobody ever gets to throw a football around with Tom Brady in their yard. But we’re getting to do that when these guys come over to the studio or come rope. That’s the fun part.” TRJ

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