HE MIGHT NOT BE ON THE OPEN SEAS, BUT HE'S STILL STEERING HIS OWN SHIP - AND CATCHING A FEW!!
RUNNING a Brookton wool and livestock operation might be a far cry from some of the early childhood dreams of sailing the open seas as a ship’s captain, but Stephen Keatley is still at the helm of his own domain and wouldn’t want to be anywhere else.
Of course, farming was also in the dreams and he has remained pretty close to that.
Stephen has chalked-up three years with Westcoast Wool & Livestock in the Brookton, Pingelly and Narrogin areas, and it appears his destiny always was to carve out a career in this industry.
Hailing from Kojonup, he grew up living and breathing sheep and wool alongside his father, Kevin, who managed Hyfield Merino and Poll Merino stud.
This lit the fire and after graduating from Narrogin Agricultural College, gaining a Certificate II and III in Agriculture and later an owner wool classer stencil, Stephen initially took on a ‘stockie’ role before working at Willemenup Merino stud near Gnowangerup and then at Woolkabin Merino stud at Woodanilling.
In 2014, he completed the AWI Breeding Leadership course at Clare in South Australia and, just quietly, the passion has delivered some results along the way – State Wool Judge Winner in 2006 and National Wool Judge Runner-up in 2007.
Stephen strives to maintain very close connections and understanding with his clients, to assist their production where suitable and to help generate the most from it. The old adage, ‘don’t leave anything to chance’, has become a strong personal mantra.
He loves the fact Westcoast is WA-owned and managed, always on the front foot to have a crack, rather than holding back, and continues to grow from strength to strength. Recent investment in a new wool coring machine in Bibra Lake and the fact it is the only company with a core machine outside of Perth is testament to that.
Stephen says Westcoast also consistently adds young, motivated individuals to its team and this all points to further expansion on the cards. He plans to play his role in an effort to make a difference in the industry and further grow the company.
He sees exciting times ahead for wool and livestock. “The local industry is in a great position with state-of-the-art facilities at Muchea and Katanning, comparable to most in Australia, and with the full supply chain from producers to processors putting the right foot forward, the future is looking bright.’’
Away from the wool and livestock passion, Stephen services his other passions – family, football and fishing to name a few, plus anything else “ag-related’’. Even going for a casual drive will do, as long as there are no snakes about! Rather, a visit to the Brookton Deli or a good counter meal along the way would top it off.
He flies the flags of the Westcoast Eagles, Subiaco Lions and Brookton Pingelly Panthers, and doesn’t mind tuning into Formula 1 and V8 Supercars action, plus fishing shows. If not these, you can probably find him watching Brooklyn Nine-Nine, Shameless or Chicago Fire.