Joe Allen, Elders Euroa, Vic
JOE Allen began his career through a school-based traineeship with Elders, and after a few years away from the industry, rejoined the company for a full-time position based at Euroa.
The 23-year-old has been back in the game for three years and sells twice weekly at Shepparton with sheep and cattle, along with the monthly sale at Euroa and sales at Yea.
He said he was always interested in working with livestock, but the people attracted him back to the industry.
"The people and the interaction with clients is what got me back," Mr Allen said.
"The majority of the business is interacting and dealing with different types of people. I think that's the mark of a good agent, being able to talk to anyone."
He was keen to call the bids from a young age, with his mentors, which include Shepparton livestock manager Tony Pianto, Rob Hocking at Cobram, and Andrew Kyle and Trevor Down at Shepparton, allowing him to have a go early on.
"At first I didn't sell much at all, but then they started giving me a few pens for a light sell each week, which led to more opportunities.
"Tony is the main auctioneer for our region, and Rob has been a good mentor as well. Andrew and Trevor have been around the job for many years so I always consult with them.
"I'm lucky enough to have people around me that want to part with their knowledge and help me."
Baden Chaffey, Chaffey Livestock, Willow Tree, NSW
BADEN Chaffey has been in the industry for seven years, spending six years with Landmark before going out on his own a few months ago.
"I always liked livestock and I enjoy the relationships you get to have with clients and buyers to get results," he said.
Mr Chaffey started in merchandise at Landmark Scone straight after school.
"That year in merchandise was probably the best thing for me, to have a wider knowledge of the business," Mr Chaffey said.
"I think that's where you pick up a lot of the core skills, by having to interact with different people. I would highly recommended it for anybody wanting to become a stock and station agent."
The 23-year-old was runner-up in the state competition, then representing Landmark, at Sydney Royal last year, and as most of his work is through private sales, he hasn't the same level of practice as other competitors.
"It definitely makes it a bit harder, not selling week to week in the saleyards, but I've been lucky enough to have some other agents help me."
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Jack Henshaw, Elders Goondiwindi, Qld
JACK Henshaw's passion for livestock started when he was a teenager helping at the Kempsey sales and his career has taken him from there to Roma, then northern Queensland, and now to the Darling Downs.
The 22-year-old has been with Elders for the past few months, following four years with Landmark at Roma, Charters Towers and Mareeba.
His career began straight after school, with a position at Roma as an 18-year-old.
Having a background in livestock - his family has a beef cattle property producing Angus bulls for northern Qld - gave him an advantage, but he wasn't prepared for the big numbers at Roma, where more than 10,000 head are sold each week.
"Seeing that number of cattle is a massive eye opener and it's a good place for a young agent to start because there's no shortage of cattle to sell," Mr Henshaw said.
"At my second sale there, Rod Turner, the head auctioneer, turned to me and said, 'you're selling the last three pens of cows', so I started from there. I didn't really know what to do, but he said 'they're here to be sold, so sell them or you may as well throw in the towel'. I was very lucky to have Rod, and also Brad Vidler, as mentors early in my career."
Mr Henshaw spent 14 months at Roma, followed by 18 months at Charters Towers, where he learnt about the export market, before going to Mareeba, working under Bob Lockhart.
"Bob is another veteran of the game who taught me a lot about the agency side of things, and Alan MacKenzie has been selling for 45 years at Mareeba saleyards, so he helped me a lot with my auctioneering."
Anthony O'Dwyer, GDL Dalby, Qld
ANTHONY O'Dwyer is one of the most experienced agents among the national finalists, having been in the industry for almost eight years.
He started working in the yards on Tuesday nights while studying at Dalby Ag College, before being offered a full-time role. The 24-year-old is one of the main auctioneers for GDL, selling every Wednesday at the combined store and prime sale.
"At Dalby we get to deal with different people every day, looking at different types and breeds of cattle, and a range of markets," he said.
"We sell everything form calves to fat old bulls on the one day and we have the biggest one-day selling centre."
Mr O'Dwyer was given the opportunity sell the calves about six years ago and has moved up the ranks to become livestock manager for the Dalby branch.
"To be a really good agent you want to be able to do everything, there's no point being an agent if you can't auctioneer. At the start, it's a lot of responsibility for a young bloke to build that clientele, but there's a lot of learning as you go and I've got some good loyal clients that I've had for my whole career."
Josh Reeves, Elders Naracoorte, SA
JOSH Reeves has only been in the industry for a few years, but he's already gained valuable experience in multiple branches through the Elders traineeship.
Mr Reeves hails from Western Australia and worked as welder and farmhand before moving into the agency business two years ago.
The 23-year-old started at Jamestown in the Mid North of SA, then moved to Wagga Wagga, before finishing the traineeship at Kingstown in the state's south east.
He's been full-time at Naracoorte for the 14 months, and said the traineeship was a great opportunity to learn the ropes of the business.
He now sells both sheep and cattle regularly at Naracoorte, but he's also getting extra practice with sales at Mount Compass and Strathalbyn.
"That was probably the most pivotal thing to becoming an agent for Elders, to build a network through that and learn from some of the best operators in the business," Mr Reeves said.
"There are a lot of people to learn from. Two of my biggest influences have been Tom Dennis at Naracoorte and Ronnie Dix at Lucindale, and they're both very good agents."
Tom Pollard, Peter Milling and Company, Dubbo, NSW
BEING an auctioneer has been Tom Pollard's goal since he was a young boy.
He's been in the industry for five years, starting as soon as he finished school in year 10.
"My grandfather was a delivery agent at Dubbo saleyards and I used to follow him around as a kid," Mr Pollard said.
"I'd get caught up in the sale and watch the auctioneers and always knew I wanted to be an auctioneer.
"Because I didn't have my driver's licence for the first year or so, I spent a lot of time in the saleyards, but as you get older, they give you more responsibility."
He spent three years with PT Lord Dakin at Dubbo, then 18 months with Elders before joining Peter Milling and Company seven months ago. The 21-year-old gets to auctioneer two to three times a week with prime and store sales.
"I started with the bobby calves, then sheep and rerun cattle, and now I'm selling the main run. Mark Garland at PT Lord Dakin is the best auctioneer in Dubbo and he's been a big mentor of mine."
Josh McDonald, SKB Rodwells, Warrnambool, Victoria
VICTORIAN Josh McDonald has livestock in his blood, being the grandfather of Noel Saffin, one of the founders of the business Josh now works for.
The 21-year-old began his career three years ago after working casually in the saleyards after school and during school holidays, along with many years spent by Mr Saffin's side as a youngster.
Mr McDonald won the auctioneer competition at Sheepvention at Hamilton two years ago, and since then, has stepped up to do most of the selling.
The branch looks after weekly sales at Warrnambool and Mortlake, as well as monthly store sales.
"We've got a pretty good auctioneer team in the Rodwell system and they've given me a few new places, like Yea, to sell as well, so that I'm working with different buyers and I'm not stuck in a routine," Mr McDonald said.
"In some companies the older guys want to continue the auctioneering, but our team is more than happy to let me sell every week.
"It is a bit daunting getting up there with blokes that have been in the industry for 40 or 50 years, and you're trying not to stuff it up, but I just want to do the best job for our clients, and the more practice you get, the easier it is. I've been lucky to have the opportunity to sell as often as I do."