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KareeWool’s Genevieve Butler wins national broker award

Terry Sim, August 26, 2022

2022 NCWSBA broker award finalists, from left, Macdonald & Co Woolbrokers’ Stephanie Frost, winner KareeWool’s Genevieve Butler and Elders’ Matt Tatthersall.

FIFTH generation wool producer and now industry-recognised broker Genevieve works hard to communicate personally with her growing client base.

One older but passionate grower without a mobile phone, landline or computer gets his clip test results and appraisals personally delivered, sometimes finding them attached to his clothesline if Genevieve arrives when he is not at home.

Genevieve yesterday won the 2022 National Council of Wool Brokers of Australia’s Broker of the Year Award after clearly demonstrating her dedication to her clients, to employer KareeWool and to the industry.

NCWSBA president Rowan Woods announced her success at the Wool Week dinner at the RACV Club in Melbourne last night.

The other finalists were Macdonald and Co administration team leader Stephanie Frost and Elders wool technical co-ordinator Matt Tattersall.

Mr Woods said the finalists showcased the extent of their skills and knowledge to the NCWSBA annual general meeting earlier in the day and the judges commended the presentations of all three finalists.

He said the award this year had seven entries — the largest field of entrants since its inception.

“The judges commented on how all these finalists showed great passion and enthusiasm and they were impressed with how you are all embracing technology for the betterment of the industry.

“They also reiterated that regardless of the outcome they genuinely encouraged you to apply again if you were unsuccessful,” Mr Woods said.

Mr Woods said Genevieve demonstrated an in-depth knowledge and diverse skillset across the many aspects required to be a successful broker. She also showed her ability to be an excellent communicator with a dedication that makes her a worthy winner.

In her presentation, Genevieve said she was extremely passionate about wool and her educational role as a wool broker. She said her father inspired her from an early age.

“Dad is a dedicated innovative and progressive wool grower.

“These family values and a strong work ethic have been instilled in me from a young age.”

The honours graduate with a Bachelor of Animal Science in Management at the University of Melbourne joined the wool trade in 2011 with Viterra, then Australia’s largest wool exporter, and in 2013 she won the national graduate wool classer competition at the Sydney Royal Easter Show. Genevieve joined the new brokerage business KareeWool in 2016 and has built her market share from scratch in the last decade to represent more than 100 wool growers, promoting and marketing 6000-plus bales annually. She also does ram selection and sheep classing for clients to meet client’s breeding objectives.

“My ambition is to expand my market share … and building long-term meaningful client relationships is critical to my success.”

Genevieve showed the other brokers how she had prepared the KareeWool show floor. Her drive to provide cost-effective logistic solutions for clients led to her getting a multi-combination truck license. She is committed to her own education, organises grower nights to inform clients about industry issues, spoken at shearing schools and guided growers in accessing the production benefits of electronic identification of sheep.

Genevieve impressed her fellow brokers with a description of the multi-faceted role of the wool broker using the letters in the word ‘broker’: Boundaries, Resilience, Optimism, Knowledge, Environment and Responsibilities.

Genevieve said labour is one of the biggest challenges facing the industry that would be helped by encouraging growers to maintain on-farm facilities. Technology would present opportunities to challenge the open cry auction system, she said. Growers would have to learn how to be more efficient and she saw genetics providing opportunities to breed low maintenance Merinos.

The “youngish” broker said it was the broker’s job to assess how to best communicate with growers and there was a need to find better ways to share information.

“There are a lot of older generation people in our industry who are maybe not so technology savvy and I think it is our job to help nurture them and keep them up to date.”

Genevieve said she serviced non-mulesing and mulesing growers, but the role of the integrity schemes in the industry is exciting and would evolve with consumer expectations.

“I think it is our role and challenge to demonstrate to growers these (price) premiums (for certified wool) and help them become part of the programs.

“I definitely think going forward they are definitely going to play a bigger role… as we move towards possibly a non-mulesed flock.”

All-expenses paid trip to Japan

Genevieve wins an all-expenses paid trip to the International Wool Textile Organisation Congress in Japan in May 2023.

“Wow, I was very nervous this morning but that’s pretty cool, I’m pretty rapt with that,” she said after the presentation.

She thanked the council, the other finalists, the independent judging panel, her family and employer KareeWool owner Alister Carr and said she can’t wait to go to Japan.

“I’m pretty excited about that….I’m excited about the future of the industry.”

Genevieve said without Mr Carr she didn’t think she would be standing on the podium.

“Back in 2016, I thought the world had ended, I was ready to chuck the towel in and he backed me, encouraged me and supported me all the way.”

In his letter supporting Genevieve’s award application, Mr Carr said despite being made redundant in two positions before starting with the brokerage Genevieve’s incredible persistence is now being rewarded. She has built a big client base and continues to develop, he wrote.

“It is a great story that continues to unfold and Gen is showing leadership and is mentoring already at a young age.”

Genevieve said her only overseas trip has been a Year 9 school camp to Bali, but she is keen to get to Japan to broaden her understanding of the international wool textile pipeline, meet global participants and extend her network.

“I think it will be an awesome experience.

“I’m really looking forward to meeting a lot of new people,” she said.

“Even here this week, today and yesterday has been an awesome opportunity to meet people that I’ve never met before in the industry.

“I feel I’m going to be better at what I do for it.”

The Japan trip could clash with her role as head wool classer at the family farm at Newstead in Victoria.

“I said to Dad last year I think it’s about time we found someone else for the home classing job and he said ‘I think you might be best if you stay here’.”

Genevieve has suffered setbacks in getting started in the industry, initially employed by Viterra in in 2011 before its takeover by Landmark but was made redundant shortly after. She also went through a redundancy after working for AWEX for a short time.

“Not long after that I chatted with Al and joined forces with him in 2016.”

She said she enjoyed the relaxed no-stress atmosphere at KareeWool.

“I can confidently look after all my clients and Al doesn’t put any pressure on me at all.

“I do my own thing when I want to do it … it’s a totally different environment to working for a corporate where you feel like you are having to perform and meet certain targets … there’s no pressure like that.”

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Comments

  1. Eloise McKinnon, August 26, 2022

    I’m so happy for you Genevieve. It sounds like a labour of love and haul over a period of time, although you’ve gone to the top now. I think women are very much needed in the wool industry, so you are setting a role model for us all to share. It’s fantastic and keep us all in your projects if you can. Wool is the most fascinating product & sheep are my prime love next to the alpaca. I ‘felt’ them all, even dog fur. Nothing is impossible and waste nothing.
    Warmest wishes Elle.

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