TEN Queenslanders will break new ground in the state final of the Australian Livestock and Property Agents Young Auctioneers Competition in Brisbane in August.
Contestants from Rockhampton and Moura in central Queensland to Silverdale in the south-east graduated from the Auctioneers School held a few weeks back at Gracemere and will be returning to the Ekka stage after COVID enforced changes in 2020.
They are Samuel Clarke, Corey Evans, Jacob Gaske, Morgan Harris, Simon Kinbacher, Jake Robinson, Justin Rohde, Ashley Steel, Cody Trost and Wyatt Wrigley.
The winner will walk in footsteps left by past stars such as Mark Scholes, Anthony O'Dwyer, Liam Kirkwood and Brodie Hurley.
But they'll be doing things quite differently to their predecessors in 2021, according to ALPA chief executive officer Peter Baldwin.
"We are very excited about going back to the Ekka and for the first time the auctioneers will be selling led steers and that takes things to a new dimension as the Queensland finalists previously sold prime cattle," Mr Baldwin said.
"In another boost for the industry, the young auctioneers will be selling dressed weight as opposed to live weight with the steers and this means they will need a sharpened knowledge of pricing. It will also be a great demonstration in how adaptable they can be to a different selling environment and a different classification of selling."
Mr Baldwin said the finalists were tested on their ability to sell led steers during the school at the Central Queensland Livestock Exchange in Gracemere, just outside Rockhampton.
But selling dressed weight would take the finalists "outside their comfort zone", Mr Baldwin added.
"Most of them would traditionally be selling live weight or open auction in saleyards and this will test them from an assessment viewpoint and of their knowledge of the animal they are selling," he said.
Mr Baldwin said the ALPA community was backing the finalists to enjoy and learn from their Ekka experience.
"We had a record number of 32 attend the auctioneers school and that in itself was pleasing and we wish each of the young auctioneers the very best," he said.
"We know this will be a milestone in their career and what a chance it offers. It's like travelling from the country to play at Lang Park.
"They're in the big zone, selling in the biggest theatre of all and we want them to enjoy the experience.
"We want them to be enriched by the experience and we know their skills will be expanded and their network is going to grow."
Samuel Clarke, GDL Roma
HIS parents are proud as punch but it's grandad's footsteps Samuel Clarke is following.
He has been held in thrall by the stock and agent side of the agricultural industry from his earliest days courtesy of Clive Herbert, his grandad.
"He was a stock and station agent for 40 years down home at Forbes in NSW," the 23-year-old said of his granddad.
"I've always looked up to him and when I was young, I would go round the yards with him and all I have ever wanted was to follow in granddad's footsteps.
"I ring him regularly and pick his brains. If you can talk to people with lots of experience, you might be a step ahead of the guys who don't.
"He is proud of what I have done and granddad will be on the list to call after the final no matter what happens."
Mr Clarke said he was "over the moon" when chosen among the 10 finalists after working hard to secure his place. He joined the GDL team last November after cold calling Peter Daniel to introduce himself and ask for a job.
"It has been an unbelievable experience and I couldn't be happier. I sell weekly in Roma and love the job," he said.
"I love the atmosphere when selling, getting the best prices for the clients and this is the life for me.
"I draft every Monday and it's good for auctioneering because you get to understand why they are being drafted a certain way."
Corey Evans, Aussie Land & Livestock Kingaroy
AT 23 Corey Evans has seen a fair bit.
But look him in the eye and fully understand why he has no intention of looking outside the agricultural sector.
"I live and breathe the cattle sector," he said.
"The family runs a Limousin stud (Jen-Daview) at Kingaroy and I haven't missed too many Ekka since I was a little fella."
Mr Evans, who holds a Chattels and Real Estate licence, will appear in his fourth Young Auctioneers Competition and expects to learn from this experience as has always been the case.
"If I come away with one of the ribbons that would be ideal, but every time you get to be in the competition you get the chance to meet a lot of people and catch up with mates who have been through this before," he added.
"All 10 of us go in as mates and it's a good thing. I was excited when I got named."
Mr Evans is looking forward to selling to the Ekka crowd after the event was shifted to the Silverdale saleyards last year because of COVID.
He is selling up to five times a month between appointments in Kingaroy and Murgon, but continues to seek advice to fine-tune his technique.
"No-one is perfect and there is always room for improvement and it is good to be out in front and have people point out the area where you can improve and be steered in the right direction," he said.
"With the right advice, you can move away from any bad habits and I can't see myself doing anything different. I love the job."
Jacob Gaske, Hayes & Co Silverdale
JACOB Gaske has vowed to do his best in the Young Auctioneers Competition, aware it will be his one and only opportunity.
"I won't be able to go next year because I will be too old, so for me it's a case of go hard or go home," the 24-year-old said.
A qualified farrier and also kept busy with a mustering business, Mr Gaske admits to a sense of accomplishment after qualifying for the state final.
He, too, feels a deep gratitude to his boss and is keen to repay the faith.
"I have been a yardman for years. I have switched and changed jobs a few times and whenever I was short of a job, I would come back and work at the saleyards as a yardman," he said.
"After a while, Peter (Hayes) offered me an agent's job. Now I sell twice a week at Silverdale, sometimes three times a week. I've been in this business for about two years and loving it.
"To be honest, I never really thought about this job until I started doing it.
"As to the competition, Peter said if I wanted to go to the (auctioneers) school, he'd pay for it and I'm pretty appreciative of Peter."
Mr Gaske is eager for the final. He's been aided by friends, who have given him an insight into the competition and offered tips to "sharpen" his presentation.
"It will be a good experience. Actually, I am a fully qualified farrier and I used to go to the Ekka all the time for shoe-ing competitions," he recounted.
Morgan Harris, TopX Gracemere
THE 2021 Young Auctioneers Competition state final at the Ekka will be a very different affair for Morgan Harris compared with his 2020 debut in the event.
Last year, the competition final shifted to the Silverdale saleyards after the Ekka was cancelled because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Mr Harris, TopX Gracemere, handled Silverdale where he found selling from the catwalk identical to his weekly selling duties at Central Queensland Livestock Exchange at Gracemere, just to the west of Rockhampton.
"Being behind a podium and microphone in front of a big audience will be different but I am looking forward to it," the 23-year-old Mr Harris said.
"I have only ever sold once at a sale with a microphone so it will be a challenge.
"I will be doing a bit of practice before the Ekka and I will be as prepared as I can and give it my best."
He found the auctioneers school, from which he graduated to make the state final, an immense help, adding: "The speech pathologists helped a lot and took us to a different level. They were a massive help.
"A few of the mentors are always saying you keep refining and I am definitely still working on what I do and people around the yards listen to me and I ask them how they thought I was travelling and to give me little pointers they think of."
When he finds time away from work, Mr Harris enjoys returning to the farm or lacing on footy boots for the Yeppoon Seagulls.
Simon Kinbacher, Elders Rural Rockhampton
SIMON Kinbacher will put an old chestnut to the test in the Queensland final of the Young Auctioneers Competition at the Ekka.
"I am selling at a few more saleyards nowadays than I was when I had my first go at the competition," Mr Kinbacher, 22, said.
"I still sell at Gracemere and Gin Gin but also sell at Sarina and Nebo now Elders have started selling there and because this branch is the closest, I have been given the chance.
"I really enjoy the auctioneering part and all the rest of the business, and I think my selling style has improved purely through experience.
"What's the old saying: practice makes perfect. I do hope to get a ribbon this time. I have been before and it's good experience and a great opportunity because every time is different."
Mr Kinbacher, who grew up in Biggenden then started work in Dalby before moving further north, said he learned from two previous appearances in the competition.
"I enjoyed the Silverdale competition because that's the way we would normally operate when selling, but the Ekka is an exciting opportunity in front of big audiences," he said. "With the auctioneering, I am always trying to produce the best possible result for the client. It is so rewarding to get good prices and makes the phone call more exciting."
Away from work, he likes to breed cattle, socialise with mates and follow horse racing.
Jake Robinson, Nutrien Ag Solutions Dalby
TWENTY two-year-old Jake Robinson is bound for the Ekka and the state final of the Young Auctioneers Competition with a distinctly different approach to his 2020 quest.
"The Ekka will be very different to (last year at) Silverdale because that was on a catwalk and we were competing in the way we would normally sell," he explained.
"At the Ekka you will be in front of a fair few people, up on a podium with a microphone and that's going to mean a whole different approach, so I'll be making adjustments because I want to give it my best shot."
Since his previous YAC outing, Mr Robinson has moved from Roma to Dalby while remaining within the Nutrien Ag group and the change has given him additional opportunities.
"In Roma there were four auctioneers, but here in Dalby there's just the two of us so I sell every week," he said.
"I am trying to build a new client base and that's something I have focused on. I have a different mentor and that alone has been beneficial because I am learning from someone else.
"I would like to think my auctioneering has improved and I have another year of experience on my side and reckon the more experience you get, the more you improve and the better your self-confidence."
He wants to represent Nutrien Ag to the best of his ability at the Ekka and feels privileged to make the cut for the final 10.
"When I went to the auctioneers school (at CQLX Gracemere), I just knuckled down and tried my best," he said. "When I heard about making the final, I was just about to sell a pen of cattle at Dalby when a call from the office came through so I couldn't think too much about it until later."
Justin Rohde, Nutrien Ag Solutions Rockhampton
JUSTIN Rohde is a realist.
He is well aware his second foray in the Young Auctioneers Competition will be vastly different to his debut at the Silverdale saleyards in 2020, when finalists jockeyed for attention as they sold off the rail.
At the Ekka, Mr Rohde and his nine rivals will face a bigger crowd and sell from a podium. He knows the two could not be any more distinct from one another.
"The bigger arena will probably require a different style of selling so I will have to knuckle down," the 21-year-old, who holds a Chattels and Auctioneers licence, said.
"I am looking forward to it because I got a lot out of the auctioneers school in Gracemere and made a few more mates and going to Silverdale last year taught me a lot.
"Being my first competition, I did not know what to expect and I needed to polish my style and going to Sydney (for the nationals) also helped.
"The Ekka will be something else again and while I am getting more experience selling every week at Gracemere and once a month at the store sales at Miriam Vale, I still need to work at it."
Mr Rohde "absolutely loves the business" and takes the view each day promises something new to learn and to experience.
"Talking to people and helping clients get the best outcome is part of the business I really enjoy," he said.
"I will definitely be giving this my best shot. Whatever happens, I will take it as it comes and I'm young enough to be involved for a few years yet if good enough."
Ashley Steel, Hourn & Bishop Moura
ASHLEY Steel has defied relative inexperience and limited selling opportunities for his place in the 2021 Young Auctioneers Competition.
Mr Steel, 22, has been in the agency side of the industry for only a few years and, unlike many contemporaries, sells only periodically.
"I have always had an interest in auctioneering but I've had two jobs - one at Cloncurry and one here in Moura - with Hourn & Bishop, and neither one operated out of a saleyard," he said.
"When I was in Cloncurry, I used to go down to Blackall and sell there maybe once a month.
"Then I moved to Moura where there was one auctioneer and they needed another. I saw a bit of a calling there."
Mr Steel, who admits he and fiance Casey enjoy sightseeing and relaxing, hopes his Ekka assignment, in which he will be selling before a big audience, parlays into greater opportunities.
"I have a few close friends who were agents and I was lucky enough that one of them put me in contact with Bruce Birch and he put me in touch with Peter Dowling at Cloncurry.
"I was lucky enough to get the start and I have been doing it for four and a half years and absolutely love it. I don't think I would do anything else. For me the buzz is doing a good job for my clients when they receive great results."
He finds marketing cattle and dealing with repeat buyers as "heartening" and "rewarding" aspects and is eager to do the best by clients.
"When I deal with a new client, I research their cattle and the buyers they attract and the needs of those buyers," he said.
Cody Trost, GDL Blackall
KEEPING the nerves at bay will be paramount for Cody Trost when he confronts the Young Auctioneers Competition state final at the Ekka.
The 24-year-old, who holds a full auctioneers licence, Chattels and full real estate licence, admits his first YAC outing in 2019 was "nerve wracking" to say the least.
"The first time was quite foreign to what I was used to and I learned that getting on top of nerves is a big thing," he said.
"You have to go in with some confidence and bring something different and try to do something that sets you apart from the rest."
Mr Trost followed his 2019 YAC debut with another outing last year at the Silverdale saleyards where the selling format was more familiar.
He continues to thank the string of fortuitous events, which led him to GDL.
"When I finished school, I worked on feedlots and properties and worked in Toowoomba for a little while for a property valuer before getting the job with GDL in Blackall," he explained.
"I got the job after meeting a bloke in a social situation who was mates with Peter Daniel. We were yarning and getting on quite well and he asked me what I was looking to do and I said I was trying to get a job as an livestock agent.
"He said, 'I know Peter Daniel and I will get you in touch with him'. We met a couple of weeks later, had a yarn and the rest is history.
"I keep trying to improve as an auctioneer and an agent."
Wyatt Wrigley, Eastern Rural Dalby
IT'S the one per centers Wyatt Wrigley will look to nail when he steps up to the mic at the Young Auctioneers Competition state final at the Ekka.
A finalist in 2018 and again last year, Mr Wrigley believes he is selling better than ever but is keeping any pre-Ekka confidence in check.
"Getting ready for this one comes back to your practice," the 22-year-old Mr Wrigley said.
"No matter where you are selling and what you are selling, if you get the basic principles right, it happens as it should.
"It's probably not a case of doing extra training but more about ensuring you do the basic things right.
"This year I am a lot more confident in myself as an auctioneer and probably less nervous but more excited about the opportunity.
"Having said that, it's going to be tough as it always is but it is great to be going back to the Ekka for the final."
Mr Wrigley said maturity, coupled with experience, is starting to stand him in good stead.
"I reckon I am happier going into this one than I was for the other two finals. In my first go I had not long turned 18, so I had not been selling for long," he explained.
Pressed to identify elements of the industry which appeal most, Mr Wrigley found it hard to separate pre-sales activity with the actual selling.
"I love dealing with fantastic families in the ag industry and fantastic people day in, day out," he said.
Brodie Hurley, past champion
WHEN Brodie Hurley proved best of an august group in the previous Queensland final of ALPA's Young Auctioneers Competition, he thought he was lucky.
A deserving winner of the 2020 competition at Silverdale for sure, but fortunate insofar as he thought he could have done better.
"I probably wasn't as fluent with my introductions as I could have been," he said.
"But it was great to win. It's a good opportunity and it's good publicity if you are looking to stay in the business and make this your career."
Pressed to offer any advice to the 10 contestants bound for judging at the Ekka next month, he thought carefully.
"They will have nerves, yet they shouldn't because it's like selling anywhere else," Mr Hurley said.
"My approach was to practice as much as I could and I'd say that should be something these guys could do. They have a couple of weeks to go and the important part is knowing what they are going to say and how they're going to say it.
"Most of the young fellows will be good at selling and if I was to give any advice, it would be to stay calm, look at the cattle, study what they are and find out who owns them."
Mr Hurley said his 2020 success boosted his profile and, in so doing, opened a few doors.
"After the final I got a new job (he's now with Shepherdson & Boyd working out of Toogoolawah) and people got to know me a bit better," he explained.
"It depends on who you talk to work out the impact of winning but it has given me a bit more confidence and I had the chance to go to Sydney (for the nationals). I wish these guys all the best."
The story Meet the young auctioneers set to compete at the Ekka first appeared on Queensland Country Life.