New Westcoast Koorda rep attracts support
DEREK Henning has not taken the more traditional pathways to a “stockie’’ role, but his enthusiasm for developing an independent local service business in his home town of Koorda is capturing support from the area’s producers.
Derek, one of the fourth-generation members of the Henning family that farms between Koorda and Cadoux, operates Agri-Stock at Koorda and was recently appointed an agent for expanding WA-owned business, Westcoast Wool & Livestock.
The Hennings run a cropping and livestock enterprise including Merino and Dohne sheep, and while Derek has always had a special interest in livestock and still helps out on the farm today, up until mid-2018 he was travelling a different road, gaining experience in other industries.
He has a Bachelor of Commerce and Arts from Curtin University, with majors in International Business and Japanese, which he continued from secondary school before switching to Mandarin as Australia increased its trade with China.
Graduating during the Global Financial Crisis (GFC) made it difficult to land a coveted commodity trading position and Derek found himself working for a logistics company and a construction business before progressing to the medical industry with Stryker Corporation.
Derek’s logistics and supply chain skills soon saw him also working with the sales team and assisting the company’s sites in Sydney, Adelaide and Melbourne, as well as in Queensland.
However, it didn’t stop him from missing agriculture and the family and he returned home to work with his father, Neil, and brother, Grant, before later taking advantage of the opportunity to acquire the local rural services business, where he thought he could apply his supply chain experience.
“In country towns, as a consumer there can be limited products and services, so sometimes you have to travel to get them. I wanted to give people in my home town more opportunity to purchase things locally,’’ Derek said.
“As a general stockist, we want to offer the full package and cater to the customer’s needs. There is a lot to learn and I am loving it.’’
He said he also was grateful to have received a warm reception from the region’s producers.
“It is actually pretty humbling. They are keen to see the business do well. It is one thing to have an idea and see it come to fruition, but it is another to then see the support, which is great.’’
Derek said he aimed to build a full, independent stockist business and being appointed as an agent for Westcoast Wool & Livestock was an excellent fit.
He said he had always worked with his family’s sheep, including on various occasions with their livestock adviser Paul Gatti, also with Westcoast Wool & Livestock.
“I was always working with Paul in the yards, estimating what the sheep could be worth in certain markets.’’
“Before heading over east, I also was interested in producing my own sheep.’’
Derek said he was impressed with the strong company culture at Westcoast Wool & Livestock.
“The leadership within the company is very good and it’s definitely a team environment.’’
“Paul spends a lot of time with me. Everyone is just really keen to help.’’
He said with the strong interest in sheep, including from eastern states’ farmers, he was enjoying assisting producers and also looked forward to supporting their meat and wool businesses in future.
Derek can be contacted on 0413 003 043.