A HUMBLE son of Australia’s outback wool industry is the nation’s top young broker for 2017.
Elders Walgett district wool manager Brett Smith was presented with the prestigious 2017 National Council of Wool Selling Brokers of Australia Wool Broker Award at the Australian Wool Industries Secretariat’s 2017 National Wool Week industry dinner in Melbourne last Friday night.
A humbled Brett Smith said the award is probably “the greatest moment of my career.”
“I would like to thank the council for selecting me for the final and thanks for the judges for the effort that you put in and thanks for all the sponsors for making it possible.
“Yeah it was a great experienced and I’m really humbled, and I’m usually not short for words,” he said.
“I’ve always been so passionate about wool, I’ve lived and breathed it my whole life and there have been some ups and downs, but this is the best up.
“This beats everything; this makes it all worthwhile.”
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The other finalists for the 2017 award were Landmark wool account manager at Bendigo, Candice Cordy and Australian Wool Network wool and sheep specialist Russell Macgugan at Hamilton.
Mr Smith thanked the people who helped him along the way, including his wool classing teacher Des Humphrey and former Landmark wool account manager Phillip ‘Tigga’ Lipscombe at Walgett.
He also thanked the team at Elders – northern zone wool manager Bruce McLeish, national wool selling centre manager Simon Hogan, showfloor manager Mal Nichols and trainee Sarah Ryan – and his family – parents Adrian and Ellen, and brother Mitch.
“We’re all in the family business together these days too and that’s where the passion for wool started for me and we’re still going there.
“And most of all I would like to thank my partner Tori – we spend a lot of time apart doing this and I have to thank her, she is very supportive,” he said.
“We don’t see each other as often as we would like, because I love what I do so much.”
Passion got Brett through
Mr Smith started with Elders at Walgett as a district wool manager in 2015, after three years with Landmark. His wool client base spans parts of outback New South Wales and Queensland.
He is a qualified wool classer, a Bachelor of Agriculture and Resource Economics degree graduate from the University of New England and an accredited deliverer of Lifetime Ewe Management and More Lambs More Often programs.
Mr Smith said he was a third generation wool grower with his family at St George in Queensland, with a Merino ewe and wether flock, and a bit of cropping. He said his main aim as a broker is to get the best value for the client.
“There are a lot of different things you can do for them and it’s probably knowing what gives best value for them, like everyone is a bit different.
“You’ve got to treat each client as an individual and not just assume that what is good for one client is good for another,” he said.
“I think passion got me through and I knew that would be my strength going in.
“And looking at the whole system, as the title of my slide show was, Wool doesn’t grow from wool, wool comes from sheep and you’ve got to have people to fun the sheep and you’ve got to do it well, and wool is just part of it,” he said.
“I think empathy is a big thing and just listening to people, and spending time with people.”
Use of sheep management tools impressed judges
Incoming National Council of Wool Selling Brokers of Australia president John Colley said the independent selection panel believed Brett best met the award’s criteria and made him a worthy winner this year.
“In particular, his innovative approach and innovative way to introduce new tools and techniques to assist clients to get the best possible financial returns.”
This included Mr Smith’s encouraging growers to participate in sheep nutrition and management through pasture management advice and involvement in LTEM, Pastoral Profits and MLMO programs.
Elders showfloor manager Mal Nicholls said Mr Smith stood out because of his passion to get the best result for his wool-growing clients.
“He’s got this obvious passion for wool, but that extends through to passion for clients that grow wool.”
Mr Smith’s family background in wool production means he knows “what makes a wool-growing operation tick.”
“He’s able to relate much better to his clients because of that.”
Award aims to promot wool brokering
Mr Colley said the objectives of the award are to promote new membership in the wool brokering industry and to promote excellence.
This included to promote wool brokering as an interesting career for young people, including, to raise the profile and increase understanding in the potential role of a wool broker.
The prize this year is attendance at the International Wool Textile Organisation’s 2018 Congress in Hong Kong Europe in May next year, including all travel, accommodation, congress and conference fees. The winner will also visit Chinese mills with NCWSBA executive director Chris Wilcox.
Mr Colley said there is a very rigorous selection criteria and process, including a written application review, referee and employer checks, presentations to the NCWSBA annual general meeting and questions from the independent selection panel.
“The panel found the calibre of the three presentations to be excellent in all respects.
“It was an extremely difficult decision to separate the finalists and they stated that they would all be worthy winners.”
Mr Colley said some of the most pleasing aspects of the finalists were that they were passionate and dedicated to the wool industry, were ”absolutely passionate” about educating the next generation of growers, and committed to providing outstanding service to their grower clients to get the best possible returns.
“The high quality of both the written submissions and the presentations was noted.
“And what was clear to the panel from the finalists’ presentations, was the complexity of the modern-day wool brokering and detailed skill-set needed to do the job effectively in the diverse environment in which we all operate,” he said.
The award judges were AWTA general manager – raw wool, Ian Ashman, wool grower Charlie Merriman and Fairfax national sheep and wool writer Annabelle Cleeland.