Westcoast moves into northern WA

THE next region in the growth map of locally-owned business, Westcoast Wool & Livestock, has been marked up, with the company this week announcing an expansion of its services into the State’s northern pastoral zone and two new appointments at Broome.

Livestock Manager Gerald Wetherall said the move would well complement the company’s Northern Territory business launched early last year under the Westcoast Northern Livestock banner.

“It’s a good strategic move for us. It really does fit like a glove for us to push into the region and leverage our relationships right across the supply chain,’’ Gerald said.

“We now have great network coverage across the Pilbara, Kimberley and Top End.’’

He said the company had been looking at the right opportunity and timing to make appointments in the Pilbara and this week welcomed highly experienced agribusiness manager and livestock specialist, Tony O’Neill, as well as enthusiastic young livestock representative, Nick Benson, to its wider WA team. Tony and Nick are both based at Broome.

Tony has a long history in livestock and is well-known right across the Pilbara and Kimberley pastoral communities having worked for and successfully managed full-service agribusinesses in the region.

Two knee replacements earlier resulted in a short break from the industry, but he said joining Westcoast Wool & Livestock and supporting pastoralists throughout the area was highly motivating.

“There are some really great people in the Westcoast business,’’ Tony said.

“Some of my best times in the industry was when I was working for a company many years ago that was like a small family company, and the Westcoast business has that feel.

“There are also a lot of people here who are pretty excited to see the company coming into the region.’’

Originally from a family farm at Pingaring, Tony earlier spent time in livestock and rural merchandise in various locations including Narembeen, Midland, Carnamah, Coorow-Eneabba and Bunbury, including successfully managing businesses that also included real estate and finance services.

The move north, firstly to Derby and later to Broome, was prompted by his wife, Michelle, who was keen to extend her social work skills to support indigenous communities throughout the region. 

New Westcoast Wool & Livestock team members at Broome, Nick Benson and Tony O’Neill.

Gerald said Tony’s 42 years of experience, including his respected profile and understanding of the northern area, was invaluable to the Westcoast Wool & Livestock business.

Nick is originally from Bunbury, but family friends at Beverley and Boyup Brook sparked his interest in farming and he completed his education at Narrogin Agricultural College.

Nick’s experience with livestock further developed through early roles at Alcoa Farmlands and then in Queensland with AACO, which ran Brahman and Brahman composite cattle. He later spent a number of years on Pilbara and Kimberley cattle stations, which also involved Droughtmaster and Shorthorn herds.

More recently, Nick was based in Geraldton, supporting pastoralists and the local export industry, including producers with large sheep enterprises.

He said a strong involvement with campdrafting had generated a special affinity with WA’s northern areas and great relationships with many pastoralists, so he was pleased to be joining Westcoast Wool & Livestock at Broome.

“The company has been very welcoming and supportive and I’m looking forward to getting around the region with Tony and also connecting with our Northern Territory colleagues,’’ Nick said.

Pastoralists in the Goldfields, Gascoyne and Murchison areas also will be assisted by Westcoast Wool & Livestock representative Paul Gatti.

In terms of the local live export market, Tony said there were some concerns around the cancellation of a shipment by an Indonesian importer recently and depreciation in the country’s currency, however he said various areas were experiencing much improved conditions and low cattle numbers also should help support market demand.

Pastoralists can contact Tony on 0455 480 609, while Nick can be contacted on 0428 653 767.