Westcoast Wool & Livestock is celebrating 25 years!
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Westcoast Wool & Livestock is celebrating 25 years!

Westcoast Wool & Livestock is celebrating 25 years!

IT has been a journey of hard work and dedication, but Westcoast Wool & Livestock is celebrating an impressive milestone this year.

After starting out with just one forklift, three agents and 500 square metres of leased floor space, the Bibra Lake-based company is this year celebrating 25 years in the Western Australian wool trade.

> Managing Director of Westcoast Livestock, Gerald Wetherall (Left); State Wool Manager and Director of Westcoast Wool and Livestock, Brad Faithfull; Director and Chairman of Westcoast Livestock, Barry Gangell; Co-founder and Chairman, Malcolm Edinger Co-founder and Managing Director of Westcoast Wools, Luke Grant.

 

For original founders, managing director Luke Grant and operations manager Mal Edinger, it has been an interesting ride since the 100 per cent Australian owned company began from humble beginnings in 1996.

Changes in their employment conditions at Elders prompted the duo to branch out on their own into the world of private wool buying, focusing on growers around York, Katanning and Albany.

After years of paying thousands of dollars in rent, Grant and Edinger found a block on Barrington Street in Bibra Lake and built their own store, a permanent home for Westcoast, moving in in January 2000.

This move corresponded with a recent shift in their business model, whereby they expanded their private wool buying focus into offering growers the opportunity to sell their wool at auction.

Renowned wool auctioneer Brad Faithfull joined the Westcoast team and the business set about building on its handling of the WA wool market share, which has grown from about 1 per cent to now accounting for about 20 per cent.

Westcoast Wool Store > Bibra Lake WA.

Another milestone for the company came in 2003 when they bought the Great Southern Wool Centre in Katanning, which has allowed Westcoast to operate the only regional AWTA-accredited handling and testing facility and in turn offer significant savings for southern WA clients.

Then in 2006 Westcoast moved into exporting wool in their own right, allowing them to provide exclusive market information, intelligence and advice, more market opportunities and maximum price benefits for their grower clients.

In recent years they have invested heavily in the local industry, including installing some of the latest wool testing equipment available in Australia.

Westcoast invested half a million dollars into a state-of-the-art Wooltech core machine for its Bibra Lake wool store in 2019, the first such investment made in a core line system in WA for many years, and with the capacity to do 1000 bales per day, at least 25 per cent quicker than their previous machine.

Westcoast is an accredited member of the Independent Livestock and Property Agents of Australia, and has selling facilities at Muchea and Katanning.

It also has strong links across the supply chain, including with processors and supermarket chains, and supplies all major livestock exporters which ensures optimum competition for producers.

True to their ever-evolving business model and willingness to move with the times, Westcoast again branched out in 2011 and added a livestock arm with the acquisition of the FarmWorks Livestock business, driven by Faithfull and Kulin-based chairman Barry Gangell.

The move was seen by the company as a natural progression and way of cementing their wool business, by offering clients another option when selling their stock.

This year Westcoast’s livestock division marks 10 years in the industry, during which time it has grown to carve out a 20 per cent market share, including significant growth in sheep and cattle numbers handled by the company.

It has all the while continued with its original building blocks of providing personalised, face-to-face service to growers.

> Back to the Wheatbelt Special Sheep Sale, Kondinin, 2021.

Over the years the company has built up an impressive network of both wool and livestock agents and staff to cater for growers all over WA.

So it is not surprising that it is making a foray into yet another field to benefit those growers, with real estate now on its agenda as of July 1 this year.

Westcoast Wool and Livestock has teamed with Raine & Horne to launch Raine & Horne Rural WA to service the rural broadacre markets primarily in WA and the Northern Territory.

Livestock managing director Gerald Weatherall said real estate was a natural progression for the business and fit comfortably with the livestock arm.

It would offer primary producers yet another option to sell their farms, while also giving the company the opportunity to deal with the new owners of the property and present their livestock and commercial finance services to them.

 

Despite all the growth and expansion, one thing has always remained the same- the Westcoast Wool and Livestock commitment to service and working with their clients at ground level.

For Luke Grant, it’s been an incredible 25 years.

“To end up the size we are, exporting and broking wool, dealing in livestock and moving into real estate, is probably not what Mal and I expected when we started 25 years ago,” he said.

“It’s been a steady growth, and it has exceeded what we thought we could do when we started, thanks mainly to the support of WA growers.”

Westcoast leads new markets for WA wool growers
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Westcoast leads new markets for WA wool growers

AUSTRALIAN-owned wool business, Westcoast Wool & Livestock, has invested in certification to the
global Responsible Wool Standard (RWS) now increasingly demanded by major retail brands,
opening new markets to local growers and the opportunity for above auction prices.

The company also has partnered with AWEX to promote the use of SustainaWOOL.

Westcoast Wool & Livestock is the State’s first brokering company to gain certification to the RWS,
an independent, consumer-driven, voluntary standard recognising best practices of farmers for their
sheep and land management. It also was the first in WA to partner with AWEX and the Australian
industry’s SustainaWOOL Integrity Scheme, ensuring it has sustainability and traceability programs
for all growers to leverage benefits.

These latest moves are attracting an increasing number of growers keen to market wool through the
company under both systems.

Coordinator of RWS and SustainaWOOL for Westcoast Wool & Livestock, Justin Haydock, said the company understood the push coming from the consumer level and the programs were about
acknowledging farmers were “doing the right thing’’.
“As a broker, we understand we have a responsibility to offer growers the best possible avenues to
market – that is why we are leading the industry and promoting the programs in WA,’’ Justin said.
He said under RWS, which is managed by the Textile Exchange, farms must meet certain standards in
the areas of animal welfare, land management and social welfare. Justin conducts the required onfarm audits for RWS-certified wools.

Brad and Justin discuss some of the wools from Westcoast Wool & Livestock grower clients targeted for the RWS and SustainaWOOL programs. Justin says wool types range from short fleece wools through to cardings and pieces, and while prices can vary, market premiums are definitely available.

 

Brad and Justin discuss some of the wools from Westcoast Wool & Livestock grower clients targeted for the RWS and SustainaWOOL programs. Justin says wool types range from short fleece wools through to cardings and pieces, and while prices can vary, market premiums are definitely available.

Westcoast Wool & Livestock participated in an independent audit to gain its own RWS certification,
which incorporated the company’s wool store operations and management, occupational health and
safety, and full traceability from the moment wool entered its stores through to its sale.
“We have previously had exclusive relationships with processing partners, but under the RWS, we
can sell wool through to any exporter, mill or buyer in the world,’’ Justin said.
“We are currently working closely with five to six different companies, from exporters through to
processors, each looking at the next RWS clips we will have available and their ‘specs’.’’Westcoast Wool & Livestock commences promoting the wools up to a month prior to test results
being available, then offers either direct or via auction.

Westcoast Wool & Livestock participated in an independent audit to gain its own RWS certification,
which incorporated the company’s wool store operations and management, occupational health and
safety, and full traceability from the moment wool entered its stores through to its sale.
“We have previously had exclusive relationships with processing partners, but under the RWS, we
can sell wool through to any exporter, mill or buyer in the world,’’ Justin said.
“We are currently working closely with five to six different companies, from exporters through to
processors, each looking at the next RWS clips we will have available and their ‘specs’.’’Westcoast Wool & Livestock commences promoting the wools up to a month prior to test results
being available, then offers either direct or via auction.

 

‘Rattle your dags’ for Boyup Brook DHS
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‘Rattle your dags’ for Boyup Brook DHS

‘DAGS for Scallywags’ has been a little catchcry in the Boyup Brook area in recent years to help raise important funds for the local high school and has been circulating again this season.

The funds have previously supported school camps and while the coronavirus pandemic has put a halt to those this year, it remains invaluable to prepare for similar events hopefully returning in 2021.

Coordinated by the Boyup Brook District High School Parents and Citizens Association (P&C) and WA-owned company, Westcoast Wool & Livestock, #DagsforScallywags encourages local growers to donate their wool oddments and dags.

 

Westcoast Wool & Livestock has been a proud supporter of the Boyup Brook District High School, raising funds for the school via donations of wool oddments and dags to its local store.

Westcoast’s local livestock agent, Brenton Tynan, said it was easy for growers to get involved in the dag drive and contribute vital funds to the school.

“They can drop-off any wool oddments and dry dags, bagging Merino wool separately to crossbred wool, at our store in the main street of Boyup Brook,’’ Brenton said.

 

“We are also happy to collect any donations on-farm.’’

Wool and dag donations are then transferred to Westcoast’s Katanning store, which, as the only regional Australian Wool Testing Authority-accredited wool handling and testing facility in WA, also offers significant freight savings to the region’s growers. The wool is later taken to the company’s main store in Bibra Lake.

The P&C receives payment for the total weighted donations and by-product, with Westcoast on-selling the wool component. The by-product is a unique, high-quality and weed-free pelletised sheep manure produced via the company’s dag crushing machinery and pelletising plant.

Dags are processed through a hammermill and crushed, separating the wool from the manure before the pelletising process, which uses high heat to kill any remaining weed seeds.

The sheep manure pellets are available for purchase at the Boyup Brook Co-Op.

P&C President Georgia Wallace said despite the cancellation of camps and some other activities this year, she was pleased the dag drive could continue and raise vital funding that could accrue for next year.

“While the funds have generally supported the camps, it can be directed into other events and we are very grateful,’’ Georgia said.

“It’s a great community initiative and we hope people can get behind the funding drive once again.’’

Brenton said the dag drive through the Boyup Brook and surrounding area was one of many fundraising and sponsorship efforts by Westcoast Wool & Livestock throughout rural communities.

For more information on how growers can get involved, Brenton can be contacted on 0459 222 318.

FarmWorks Narrogin partners with Westcoast
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FarmWorks Narrogin partners with Westcoast

FARMWORKS Narrogin has joined the list of independent rural retailers teaming up with the WA-owned Westcoast Wool & Livestock business to provide wool and livestock services throughout its local areas.

Owned by Ashley Wilkins and Charlie Farleigh, the store has continued to grow and is enjoying another promising season in the Narrogin and wider region. It supports growers out to Wandering, Boddington and the Williams area towards Collie, down to Highbury and towards Wagin, across to Wickepin and up to the Cuballing, Popanyinning and Pingelly areas.

The business, also with the support of Bernard Maley (merchandise sales), Karen Fazey (sales/administration) and Brett Coxon (Summit Fertilizers), and using consultant agronomists Trent Butcher, Garren Knell and Jordy Medlen from ConsultAg, offers a full range of farm inputs and supplies, now sourced via another local independent, David Grays Aglink.

Ashley, who earlier worked on his uncle and aunty’s farm west of Wickepin for five years, as well as for other agribusinesses at Narembeen and Narrogin for 11 years, said after buying into FarmWorks Narrogin four years ago, they had been keen to expand the business with wool and livestock services.

“It’s another service we can offer and we partner up with the Westcoast Wool & Livestock team very well,’’ said Ashley, who is well settled in Narrogin with his wife, Kellie, who works for an agribusiness bank, and their two daughters, Piper and Riley.

“It’s great that Westcoast Wool & Livestock are WA-owned and operated. They have exceptionally good livestock and wool agents and I have worked with a lot of the team at Westcoast in the past.

Ashley Wilkins (second from right), FarmWorks Narrogin, welcomes Westcoast Wool & Livestock team members to the Narrogin store, including Justin Haydock, Brad Faithfull, Adrian Dabinett and Stephen Keatley.

“It has been really exciting to see some of the people who have been joining the company. Westcoast is investing in great people and they are really supporting the younger team members who are going to become the next generation for our industry.’’

Supporting FarmWorks Narrogin in extending its wool and livestock services to growers will be Justin Haydock, Stephen Keatley and Adrian Dabinett from Westcoast Wool & Livestock.

In addition to already working with Justin previously, Adrian was Ashley’s football coach for the Narrogin Hawks, while his wife, Kellie, is also friends with Stephen’s wife, Dannielle, so the team have taken little time to hit the ground running.

Ashley said sheep numbers were up in the region following a warm season with high lamb marking and weaning numbers.

He said early feedback on the partnership with Westcoast Wool & Livestock, and particularly some of the strong benefits it offered growers, had been excellent.

Westcoast builds ‘Great Southern land’
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Westcoast builds ‘Great Southern land’

SIGNIFICANT investments into a facility upgrade, livestock market sales, an expanding team and new finance products for producers is set to position Westcoast Wool & Livestock as a major player across the State’s southern region.

Director and WA Wool Manager Brad Faithfull said a $1 million investment announced earlier this year by the company, which included some of the latest wool testing equipment available in Australia, signalled its commitment to the industry and also resulted in an additional core machine at its Katanning wool store.

Brad said the Katanning facility, which had also undergone refurbishment, now mirrored the Westcoast Wool & Livestock store at Bibra Lake.

“Our Katanning store is the only Australian Wool Testing Authority-accredited out-centre for wool testing and sampling in WA,’’ Brad said.

“For growers, this means considerable freight savings in the vicinity of 50 per cent compared with freighting wool through to Perth.’’

He said the latest developments were a major boost for operational efficiencies at the store, allowing growers from Boyup Brook to Albany, out to Lake Grace and Dumbleyung and down to Esperance to quickly get their wool tested and through to market stage.

“Our ultimate focus is to provide the best service for growers.’’

 

The Westcoast Wool & Livestock store at Katanning is the only Australian Wool Testing Authority-accredited out-centre for wool testing and sampling in WA.

“The turnaround time for test results is usually about 72 hours. Wool comes into the store via carriers or direct from growers, it goes through the process of receiving, lotting and sampling and then the samples go to Perth and the physical bales remain in Katanning. Once the wool is sold, Westcoast Wool & Livestock trucks it through to Fremantle for shipment without any extra costs incurred to growers.’’

Brad said the company’s wool team from the Upper Great Southern down through the southern areas had continued to grow, buoyed in recent times by younger team members joining alongside experienced advisers and gaining excellent training and support.

Westcoast Wool & Livestock team members Brenton Tynan, Livestock Manager Gerald Wetherall and auctioneer Steve Harris during a recent Katanning market sale.

“I have been in the trade a long time and to see the enthusiasm from the younger team members is excellent. They love the product and the game, they are seeing the business grow and are embracing the challenges ahead.’’

Westcoast Wool & Livestock offers all available wool marketing options from private, on-farm sales through to forward selling and the auction market, while its export business allows invaluable market intelligence and advice for growers.

“Our export business trades wool daily into China, Europe and India markets, so we get a good feel of the market on a daily basis,’’ Brad said.

“We can all read market reports, but when you are dealing with overseas trade, you get a good signal of what’s going to happen in the foreseeable future and we can pass that expert knowledge on to growers to assist their wool marketing.’’

He said the company’s foray into livestock eight years ago was a logical move, offered good synergies with the wool business and was the origin of considerable growth in recent years.

Less than 12 months ago, Westcoast Wool & Livestock joined the selling roster at the Mount Barker Regional Saleyards and has been steadily expanding its southern team.

“Mount Barker has helped to develop our cattle business in WA, linking into the Great Southern region and out of the South West,’’ said Livestock Manager Gerald Wetherall.

“We have a number of staff dedicated to our cattle business and the team will continue to grow, particularly in the South West.’’

Gerald said another 10 staff had joined the wider livestock team over the past year.

“It is a diverse team with young and experienced staff, they are very personable, take pride in a close association with clients, and we are well networked to the eastern States through the RMA (Rural Marketing Agents) Network. This has been a strong connection for our business during the dry conditions over the last 12-18 months.’’

Unloading another wool delivery at the Westcoast Wool & Livestock Katanning store.

He said the team strived to provide excellence in service and the best possible returns for producers every time their stock was sold, whether through saleyards, processors or direct to eastern States.

“Not only do we market stock in the correct way, but our team drafts and weighs stock, ensuring all stock leaving properties is designated to a specific market and maximises the return to producers.’’

Gerald said financial products were another growth area of the livestock business and the company had appointed a designated Finance Manager to assist producers.

Hayden Baker busy with wool testing via the core machine at the Westcoast Wool & Livestock Katanning wool store.

“Feedlots have become a bigger part of the program for a lot of our cattle and lamb producers and it is an area we have focused on. We are looking to extend our finance products into feedlotting and backgrounding, as well as breeding for both sheep and cattle.’’

“With the depleted stock numbers in areas of the wheatbelt due to the lack of rainfall, we are making sure we are in a position to assist producers to finance back into breeding stock.’’

He said a key component having a strong impact in the market for the Westcoast Wool & Livestock brand was the fact it was not only Australian owned, but Western Australian owned.

“It is very unique. Producers recognise it and our staff are encouraged by it and are proud to be that way.’’

“Being an independent, Australian owned company makes it easy to make decisions within the business – we are not going through a number of levels to get understandings and everyone on-board.

“It’s also the warmth it brings to your heart – you can look people in the eye and they can be very proud and we can be very proud of being Australian owned.’’

Gerald said he looked forward to the company’s continued growth.

“Every day I love getting up and going to work because the future for agriculture and the livestock business in WA for Westcoast is very bright.’’

“With our clean, green image and few diseases in WA, local and overseas purchasers can be very confident of what they are buying here. We are in a great environment in WA and our producers are doing a great job,’’ he said.