NSW agents get ready for showdown

Agents step up in quest for the NSW gong


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The 10 NSW finalists in the ALPA Young Auctioneers Competition have been getting in as much practice as they can before the big day at Sydney Royal.

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THE 10 NSW finalists in the ALPA Young Auctioneers Competition have been getting in as much practice as they can before the big day at Sydney Royal.

The Land caught up with each auctioneer to find out who they are and how the preparations are going for the competition.

Charlie Butt, 24, Elders Cootamundra

This will be Charlie's first time in the competition, having been an agent for about two years.

Charlie is a territory sales manager at Elders Cootamundra and said the best thing about the job was the interaction with clients.

He enjoys the agency lifestyle and being able to meet a range of people in the course of his job. Charlie grew up on the family's mixed cattle and sheep property near Jugiong and said this was where he developed his love for working with livestock.

With the season being so challenging recently, he values the opportunity to get to know his clients and listen to their needs.

He said one of the best things he has learnt since becoming an agent is the importance of listening to people and learning from what they have to say.

Charlie has been preparing for the competition by selling fortnightly at the Cootamundra sale and also weekly at the Wagga sale.

He's also taken up practising his auctioneering skills in the shower rather than singing in the shower.

When asked where he'd like to be in five years, Charlie said he was keen to develop a strong agent presence in Cootamundra.

"I really love living in this part of the world," he said.

In his spare time he enjoys playing rugby union and golf and camping.

Cooper Byrnes, 22, Langlands Hanlon, Parkes

Cooper's interest in agriculture and the livestock industry blossomed during his high school studies of agriculture.

Since leaving school, he's taken to working as a livestock agent like a duck to water and said working with such a variety of clients was very rewarding.

"Talking to clients and listening to them to better understand their business is one of the things I like most about my job," he said.

"It's really rewarding working with a client to come up with the best marketing options for their particular line of stock."

He said regular contact with clients to check in and see how they were going was an important part of being an agent for him.

In preparation for the competition, Cooper said he was getting in as much practice as he could on the saleyards catwalk.

"I'm hoping I won't be as nervous selling this year as I was last year," he said.

"As this is my second year, I know what to expect, so will be better prepared for what happens during the competition in Sydney."

In the next five years, he hopes to expand local business relationships with a variety of clients.

"Working in a small rural community is rewarding and it's nice to know what you do in that community is appreciated," he said. Cooper enjoys water-skiing and playing rugby in his spare time.

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Jake Lebrocque, 25, Elders Forbes

With one year as a finalist already under his belt, Jake's looking forward to the challenge of taking to the stage in Sydney this year with renewed confidence.

The day of the competition will also be Jake's 25th birthday, so he's hoping this brings him a bit of extra luck.

As territory sales manager for Elders at Forbes, Jake said the best thing about his job is building relationships with clients.

He loves the diversity of the job too in that he gets to meet a range of people, work with livestock and travel to a range of areas.

He said one of the most important things he has learnt since becoming an agent is the importance of honesty and fostering positive relationships.

In light of this, Jake hopes in the next five years to be in Forbes with some more responsibility with his job - perhaps an area manager type role.

To help prepare for the competition, he has been selling regularly at the Forbes saleyards and practising his introductions for the steers before the auctioneering begins.

Away from work, Jake said he enjoyed working with his dogs, fishing, cricket and having a few beers with his mates.

Angus MacTavish, 22, Elders Walcha

Angus grew up on a farm and it was during this time he decided he wanted to work in the agricultural industry.

He was attracted to the diversity of the work for agents and since starting with Elders as a territory sales manager three years ago, he has not looked back.

"I love the fact that no two days are the same," he said.

"You can be in one place on Monday, get a phone call and then be somewhere else totally different by Thursday or Friday."

Having the disadvantage of working in a town that doesn't have a regular cattle or sheep sale, Angus said he is taking it as it comes in preparation for the Sydney Royal competition.

It will be the first time he has competed in the NSW final and he is looking forward to the opportunity.

Angus said the most important thing he has learnt since becoming an agent is being honest and having a strong code of ethics with every client. He said he enjoys being able to work with such great locals and a great town.

"The minus 10 degree temperatures in winter are a highlight of Walcha too," he joked.

During his free time he enjoys campdrafting and riding his horse, with a bit of social rugby union thrown in for good measure.

Tom McGregor, 23, Elders Goulburn

Tom has been a territory sales manager for Elders Goulburn for about three-and-a-half years and said the best part of his job is that every day is different.

Like many agents, he said the interaction with a variety of different clients keeps him on his toes and makes the day-to-day duties that much more enjoyable.

Tom grew up on the family farm which produced wool and prime lambs.

He said it was the interaction with agents at the saleyards as a child that drew him to the profession.

He said he has a lot of respect for the way the older agents go about their jobs and their ability to build strong relationships with a range of people.

Being honest with clients, even when the news can be difficult to deliver, is one of the most important things he has learnt since becoming an agent.

He said building and maintaining a client's respect was essential and he strives to do this with each job he takes on.

Away from work, Tom enjoys playing cricket in the summer and rugby union in the winter.

Socially, he enjoys a game of golf with friends.

When he gets the time, Tom also enjoys heading back to the family farm and lending a hand.

Ben McMahon, 23, Lehman Stock and Property, Inverell

Having a dad as a cattle buyer, Ben has been around saleyards and livestock marketing all his life.

So becoming a livestock agent seemed like a great way to make a living.

Ben said he enjoyed making new contacts and building better relationships with existing clients.

He's been a livestock agent in Inverell for four years and during that time has settled right into building trust with his clients.

"I like working with people and helping them achieve their goals in their business," he said.

Ben values reliability and said that's a quality which is so important to him when carrying out his business dealings.

"You need to be straight up and down with people. Be honest even when the situation can be challenging," he said.

Ben said in the next five years he hopes to still be in Inverell working in the same area of the business with a strong client base.

"You need to stick to one area, rather than chopping and changing," he said.

"Inverell is a great place to live and work. The people are great to deal with."

In his spare time, Ben enjoys playing polocrosse, training his working dogs and fishing.

Sam Smith, 21, Kevin Miller Whitty Lennon and Company, Forbes

Sam has been an agent for five years and couldn't think of any job he would rather do.

"It's something I've always wanted to be. Even when I was a young kid I wanted to be an agent," he said.

Sam grew up on a sheep and cattle property in the Forbes district and said working with livestock has always been something he has enjoyed.

But he said the best thing about being an agent was the auctioneering part of the job.

He said building relationships with clients right across the district was also a rewarding part of the role.

"You get to know people and their businesses really well and it's great to see them doing well and knowing you may have helped a bit with that," he said.

This will be Sam's second time in the competition and he hopes the nerves will be easier to handle this time.

"I've been getting in as much practice as I can by selling in Forbes and Carcoar, while Kevin Miller and Luke Whitty have been giving me plenty of pointers too," he said. "I seem to be learning something new from Kevin every week."

In his spare time, Sam enjoys fishing, playing rugby union and spending time with family and friends.

Jake Smith, 23, Elders Gundagai

Jake always knew he wanted to work in some part of the agricultural industry, having grown up on a farm his father managed near Holbrook.

Becoming an agent, where he got to work with livestock and those involved in the livestock production chain, seemed like the right path.

Jake has worked full time for Elders for the past five years as a territory sales manager.

He has a strong interest in markets and marketing and that is one of the key things he loves about his job.

He enjoys working closely with individual farmers to help them get the best results for their livestock.

"It's about matching the right stock to the right market," he said.

One of the most important things Jake has learnt during his time as an agent is there's a lot of power in the people you deal with. He said communication is so important and no two people are the same so no two people should be treated the same.

In five years, Jake hopes to still be working for Elders at Gundagai with a strong client base that's been built on trust.

He would also like to have the opportunity to auction stock on a regular basis. Jake spends much of his spare time working on his block of land and also working with his working dogs.

James Watson, 24, Delta Livestock and Property, Young

James always dreamed of working in the livestock industry, so a job as a stock and station agent suits him perfectly.

He worked in the feedlot industry before becoming an agent, which gave him exposure to another part of agriculture before making the switch.

James has been an agent for three years and said the privilege of meeting and working with a variety of people was one of the things that drew him to the position.

"I love the interaction with clients and being able to work with them over a period of time," he said.

"It's rewarding to see them get a great result when they market their stock and know that you helped them achieve that."

James said one of the most important things he had learnt since becoming an agent was brushing up on his communication skills.

"Keeping the contact with clients is so important. You need to be an 'open book' for them and tell them honestly what's happening even when the situation is challenging."

Within the next five years, James hopes to still be in Young building a strong client base. He said he didn't want to move as he enjoyed living in a small agricultural community. "It's great to walk down the street and know people, stop and have a chat and feel like you are part of a community," he said.

In his spare time, James enjoys campdrafting, water-skiing and playing rugby union.

Shannon Wicks, 23, Landmark Wagga Wagga

Shannon has worked in livestock sales for three years and said he was really looking forward to the opportunity to compete in the NSW young auctioneers competition for the first time.

In preparation for the competition, Shannon has been selling regularly at the Wagga saleyards during both the cattle and lamb sales.

"I've been trying to get in as much practice as I can," he said. "Selling in Sydney is a bit different to the Wagga saleyards and so I've also been trying out using the microphone like the one we use in the competition."

He said one of the things that drew him to being an agent was the variety of things to do each day.

"I'm a people person, so being able to work with people every day and all the variables that brings with it is something I really like about my job," he said.

He said working with a good, supportive team was also a great thing about his current job.

Shannon said one of the things he has worked on since becoming an agent is getting to know his clients and having a thorough understanding of their product.

"If you don't know what you're talking about when you go to market a client's product, you are not adding to their enterprise," he said. "It's so important to me that my clients know that when I work with them I want to understand their operation to ensure we get the best result."

Shannon enjoys playing rugby union and golf, fishing and working with his working dogs.

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