A decade ago Joel Fleming couldn't have dreamt of selling the $550,000 horse which he auctioned off in the Nutrien Classic Campdraft Sale last weekend. Then in his early twenties, he'd spent months selling to a video camera set up at home.
The Joel was rehearsing for the 2012 ALPA Young Auctioneers Competition, a contest which he would win and which would take him all the way to the Calgary Stampede in Canada.
"For about three months I just practiced and practiced. I was that determined to win," Joel said.
The year before I'd placed runner up and I wasn't going to walk away in second place again.
And its that determination which Joel has brought to every deal in his career. Based at Nutrien, Tamworth, his role combines stud and commercial livestock, rural property and equine sales.
"In each deal you strive to do your absolute best," he said. "You're selling people's livelihoods. One truckload of cattle might not sound like a lot but if you get 10 cents a kilogram more on feeder steers you're talking $40 to $45 a head more. Over 100 steers that's $4500."
Joel's father is also an agent and has had a big influence on his career.
"There was an opening for a job at Elders, Goulburn and Dad rang me and said, I think you should put in for it," he said. "I got the job and it went from there. I spent six months in Goulburn, two years in Dubbo and 12 months in Dalby."
He transitioned into stud stock at Landmark, Dalby, and moved back to Tamworth 11 years ago.
"There are certainly challenges with stud stock," he said. "As with most livestock it's very seasonal dependent.
"When it gets dry you're probably selling plenty of commercial females but it's really hard for the studs. Demand for bulls is low."
After five years of full time stud stock, Joel moved into commercial livestock, added rural real estate to his duties and still auctioneers at 10 stud sales a year. He thinks producers are getting their just desserts with the current market prices.
"It doesn't matter if you're talking stud or commercial stock, the producers that have hung on to their females or to cattle through the drought, or purchased cattle on the back end of the drought, are having a bigger win now than they've probably ever had," he said.
With cash lining pockets Joel sold cow horses to extraordinary money in the Nutrien Classic. The best of those was three-year-old mare Bad in Black, purchased by Willinga Park in excess of half a million dollars.
"It was a great moment. A lot of homework went into it too. You've got to know your product and do the best you possibly can for your vendor on the day," he said. "It was always going to be high-pressure. But the stage was set, the horse was on song and it all just fell into place."
Joel has had many career mentors too.
"I became the lead auctioneer at a young age for Elders, Dubbo, under Paul Jameson. I was lucky I had a lot of competitor agents there that assisted me with my selling," he said. "One in particular, Angus Barlow (Barlow and Peadon Schute Bell), helped me out to no end. If I could give any advice it's to learn something from everyone.
"If it's 8, 10, 12 or 15 different auctioneers take something from each of them and make yourself your own."
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