Auctioneering can be considered an art. In a place like Wagga, which is home to one of Australia’s most influential livestock selling centres, it is a skill that doesn't go unnoticed. Agriculture journalist Nikki Reynolds takes a look at what drives some of our finest auctioneers.
MILLIONS of dollars worth of livestock go under the hammer in Wagga every week.
It is not unusual for the Wagga Livestock Marketing Centre (WLMC) to turnover $5 million at a Monday cattle sale. And all of the selling is done with a traditional open cry auction system.
This is a system that requires auctioneers to be at the top of their game and have an astute understanding of the livestock industry.
“It is something I take extremely seriously … you are dealing with people’s income,” says auctioneer James Tierney.
Mr Tierney, a director of Riverina Livestock Agents, won the coveted national young auctioneers competition in 2008 when he was working for Elders.
“I enjoy selling now as much as I ever did,” he said.
At the cattle sale two weeks ago Mr Tierney was taking the bids when Angus heifers made a whopping 316.2c/kg.
“That was rewarding … winning at Sydney was one of the best feelings you can have, but the regular sales are good too,” he said.
Fellow Australian champion auctioneer Joe Wilks of Elders Wagga made his mind up about a career path when he was five-years old and he hasn’t looked back.
“I would go to the sales and I was mesmerised by the auctioneers, they controlled the sale and created atmosphere,” he said.
“I have been working in the industry casually since I was 14 and then started permanent about six years ago,” he said.
“As long as you are keen and hard working then Wagga is one of the best places to get a start in the industry.”
Mr Wilks is the face of Elders NSW television advertising campaign. He talks about the rewards of the job in the commercial which is filmed at Humula and Mangoplah in the Riverina.
“I have copped a lot of curry about it but we are certainly on track and it is time to get out there in the public eye,” he said.
“This is a great industry to be in and I have been blessed to be around the right people from such a young age … I couldn’t have asked for better,” he said.
WLMC manager Paul Martin says there are enormous opportunities for livestock agents to perfect their auctioneering skills in Wagga.
“Week in and week out producers continue to send the highest quality stock to Wagga knowing that their hard work will be backed up by the hard working men and women from the eight agencies that operate here,” Mr Martin said.
“One of the rewards of my job is seeing young auctioneers starting out full of energy and keen to learn,” he said.
Australian Livestock and Property Agents (ALPA) southern regional manager, Liz Summerville of Wagga agrees saying the Riverina plays a great part in fostering the careers of young auctioneers.
“The skills needed to be a successful agent are varied and no two working days are the same,” she said.
Education in the form of auctioneers schools are run by ALPA and these forums have been established for more than 20 years.
“From these schools the participants have the opportunity to progress in their state ALPA young auctioneers competition and then onto the ALPA national young auctioneers competition,” Mrs Summerville said.
The auctioneer schools also provide tuition from key players in the industry and offer advice from speech pathologists.
“Voice, diction, values and manner are all important to making up a good auctioneer’s repertoire,” said Mrs Summerville.
“A good auctioneer knows the stock they are selling and they are very aware of the current market.”
Glenn Fordyce of Elders Wagga has been involved mentoring up-and-coming auctioneers for decades.
He said the benefits of running schools for young people were enormous.
“It is a chance to teach them how to operate and to become a better agent and auctioneer,” he said.
Mr Fordyce said the recent auctioneers school in Wagga attracted 15 people.
And for those who want to test their skills further he said the young auctioneers competition at the Sydney Royal Easter Show was an ideal platform.
“And if they happen to win there are plenty of attractive prizes and it can also lift the profile of a young person in the industry,” he said.
“Wagga seems to be a good breeding ground for auctioneers because of the amount of time they can spend at the saleyards,” he said.
Wagga has had several NSW and national ALPA young auctioneers competition winners:
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