Former H&R Block exec buys Bar Diamond
16,000 acre property
just north of Billings to be kept as working ranch, seller says
Of The Gazette Staff
Moving off the ranch where he'd lived for just less than 40 years,
Larry Carpenter made numerous trips over a six-week period, hauling out
tools, equipment and other belongings. The last thing he picked up was
a tractor, which he drove slowly off the ranch.
"It was pretty emotional," he said. "It was really strange driving past
my house. It wasn't mine anymore."
new owner of the Bar Diamond Ranch, a 15,800-acre spread that stretches
from Highway 3 just south of Acton nearly to Highway 87, and from the
Shepherd-Acton Road on the north nearly to Alkali Creek Road, is
Richard "Dick" Brown, a former president and CEO of H&R Block.
bought the ranch in April from the families of Larry's father, Vince
Carpenter, and Jack Dietrich, who died in May 2007. Vince Carpenter and
Jack Dietrich owned adjoining cabins near Red Lodge, and their
friendship blossomed into a partnership when they bought the old Frank
Mackey ranch north of Billings in 1964.
With input from two of
Vince's children and two of Jack's, who served
on the board of directors that ran the ranch, the two patriarchs
decided in 2006 to sell the Bar Diamond. Various members of both
families worked on the ranch over the years, but the main caretakers
were Larry Carpenter and his family, who moved out there full time in
is one of the larger private land holdings in
Yellowstone County, and part of what made it unusual was its proximity
to a large airport and access from multiple public roads.
David Dietrich, Jack's son and an attorney in Billings, said the
families were also fortunate in their timing.
"We think we were really lucky when we sold it because the market
really went flat after April and May," he said.
members declined to say how much the ranch ultimately sold for, but
when it was listed by Jake Korell of Landmark of Billings, the asking
price was just over $19 million. The sale was handled by Cory Clark of
Lusk, Wyo., the owner of Clark and Associates.
Brown preferred to keep a low profile, declined to say anything about
his client or plans for the ranch. One of Clark's associates, Denver
Gilbert, is managing the ranch for Brown, who also used to be CEO of
Electronic Data Systems, a company founded by billionaire and
presidential candidate Ross Perot.
Vince Carpenter said he and
his wife had "a delightful meal" with Brown and his wife at Jake's
restaurant in Billings a few weeks before the ranch sold, and he was
impressed with the Bar Diamond's new owners.
"I was gratified that the buyers were the kind of people they were -
down to earth, friendly, accessible," Carpenter said.
wanted to preserve as much of the ranch's authenticity as possible and
asked to keep branding irons, a sheep wagon and other historical
artifacts associated with the ranch, as well as rights to the Bar
Diamond name, all of which were granted, Carpenter said. Brown intends
to continue the Bar Diamond as a working cattle ranch, he said.
Dietrich said Brown has substantial land holdings in Florida and Maine,
and this apparently is his first foray into the Western land market.
Dietrich said he heard that Brown's investment strategy involved buying
land and holding onto it for the long term.
One issue the
families had to deal with was whether to break the ranch up into
smaller parcels or to try selling it intact. David Dietrich said he was
the first member of the board to suggest breaking the ranch up, but was
"corrected" by other family members, whose wisdom he now recognizes.
640-acre section of the ranch was withheld from the sale because it was
west of Highway 3, and Brown thought it would be better not to have
such a barrier through his property. Larry Carpenter and his wife,
Kris, bought 214 acres of that section. Larry said he wants to get
another horse one of these days, and he'll soon be moving a "pet cow"
out to his land. The cow, which is 14 or 15 years old, was raised by
his son and is out at a "horse place" in the Heights for now.
"That'll be the only livestock," Larry said. "She'll be there by
Contact Ed Kemmick at firstname.lastname@example.org
This article used with permission of Ed
Kemmick and the Billings Gazette.