Livestock Market Update: Cam Heggie - Becoming part of each client's business
Growing up in Palmerston North, Cam Heggie decided he wanted to go into agriculture. A short stint as a farm cadet reinforced that decision, though persuaded him that he wasn’t cut out to be a farmer.
“I went to Palmerston North Boys High and made friends with a lot of boys who were boarders, coming into school from the likes of Taihape and Hunterville. They were bloody good guys, and I thought working with people like them would be an excellent career.”
Moving to Dalgety Crown in 1986 after the cadetship set Cam off on his path in the rural sector, mostly with PGG Wrightson and its predecessor companies, with a couple of overseas stints in the mix.
From managing the Frankton Saleyards for the company, he jumped at the opportunity to become PGG Wrightson Livestock Genetics Representative and Auctioneer for the Northern North Island in 2011, a role he thoroughly enjoys.
“I love it.
“We are not just a service, not just turning up on sale day and selling livestock. Our role is to become part of each client’s business, guiding them through their breeding programmes, advising on and helping source the bulls and rams they rely on. I gain huge satisfaction from that.
“On top of which, being part of the genetics team, with seven or eight of us throughout the country is a bonus. We are a tight knit bunch and a strong network with an excellent culture, which I am very fortunate to be part of,” he says.
Despite the high levels of satisfaction, the role contains a few challenges, not least of which is continuing land-use change through many of the districts in Cam’s patch.
“Declining breeding cow and ewe numbers are part of the landscape. Dropping numbers doesn’t make selling bulls and rams any easier. Building strong relationships with clients, and wider, becomes more important than ever,” he says.
Such a wide region has its privileges, travelling through a diverse range of country, though brings other challenges.
“When you organise a sale in Northland, where breeding numbers have particularly dropped, you rely on a large number of purchasers driving up from further south, and coming through Auckland, which of course can be hard work, so you need to make it worth their while to sit on the motorway,” he says.
Cam particularly enjoys the most high profile part of his role.
“Being a genetics auctioneer was where I always wanted to end up, and I’ve been right into that side of the job since I started my career. It doesn’t matter if you are doing one of the marquee sales, or someone less well known, if it ends up being a good day, as the auctioneer you have contributed to making a large proportion of that farmer’s annual income. It’s a big responsibility.
“You have to know what you are selling, which takes plenty of homework. You have to understand your client and their programme, and you have to know what it will take to get the gallery going.
“When you can get all that right, it is hugely satisfying,” he says.
One particular highlight was running the auction when last year’s highest priced two-year-old bull went under the hammer: sold by Cam for Andrew and Tracey Powdrell of Turiroa Angus to joint purchasers at Kaharau and Orere Angus, the bull, named Turiroa Ragnar, fetched $104,000.
Outside work, Cam and wife Sara live on a small block at Glen Massey, Waikato, which they are slowly planting in natives. Sara has a catering business, which sees Cam helping out at weekends, and the couple have four adult children.