Westcoast builds ‘Great Southern land’

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

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 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.

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

“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.’’

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.

“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.

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