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24 November 2021

Trainee programme marks ten years

Clients of livestock business benefiting from fresh talent, professionally trained 

Succession planning is a significant issue for farmers. In common with much of the agriculture sector, around ten years ago, PGG Wrightson confronted the fact that our livestock team wasn't growing any younger.


To address that fact, we introduced a comprehensive trainee programme to provide new young rural professionals recruited to our team with the skills necessary for a career advising farmers on their sale and purchase of livestock. This is a programme intended to invest in the future of the business by supporting the young up-and-comers who will grow and develop with us to deliver that future.


Our trainee programme comprises a 12-month skills academy via an Industry Training Organisation (ITO) course, offering participants a formal professional qualification in livestock. This is supplemented by in-house training focusing on the likes of assessing livestock, analysing studs, and evaluating potential on-farm performance enhancement.


All PGG Wrightson trainees are assigned a sponsor or mentor within the company responsible for guiding them through their training.


Ten years on, the programme has shown its worth, with a multitude of fresh talent in the shape of graduate trainees now fully embedded in the business, providing excellent service to our clients and creating their own legacy within PGG Wrightson.


Graduates of the trainee programme are becoming our top performers, mainly stamping their mark with their auctioneering ability. Several former trainees have gone on to win or place highly in the annual Heartland Bank Young Auctioneers Competition.


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NZFAP Wool Launched

27 October 2021

The New Zealand Farm Assurance Programme (NZFAP) officially introduced wool into its programme from 1 September 2021. From this date all wool growers who are certified to NZFAP for their meat company requirements have had their wool formally accepted into the programme.

This enables grower’s wool to be sold and marketed as “Farm Assured” into the future.

 Farmers have been advised of their NZFAP code by Asure Quality and scheme owner NZ Farm Assurance Inc. However, any farmers who do not know their NZFAP code can email for help.

Important Information:

  • Wool can only be sold as farm assured if wool is received into store with a “Wool Specification” sheet that has a valid 7 digit NZFAP code on it.
  • A new standardised NZFAP Wool Specification sheet can be found here.
  • NZFAP wool can only be sold through certified companies of which PGG Wrightson is a founding wool member.


We look forward to marketing and growing the awareness of NZFAP certified wool to all purchasers of New Zealand wool both domestically and around the globe.

Cameron Gray: Knowing you've made their day

24 November 2021

A '100 per cent country boy' makes the shift from rural transport to livestock rep

With roots in the region, Cameron Gray started as a PGG Wrightson South Canterbury and Waimate livestock representative in October 2021. A 100 per cent country boy, Cameron's home patch is Cannington, Cave, 35 kilometres west of Timaru, where his parents have a 200-hectare property running 800 ewes and 70 breeding cows. 


Cameron left school in 2012.


"I went to work at Temuka Transport. My father drives, which led me into it. I graduated to driving stock trucks through the South Island. Although I made a good living and enjoyed the countryside, after seven years, I started working out what I wanted to achieve in life and thinking about a different direction." 


Around that time, Greg Uren of PGG Wrightson South Canterbury approached Cameron in the Temuka Saleyards. 


"He asked would I like to become a stock agent? I said: 'Funny enough, I've been thinking about that,' so I came on as a trainee for two years.


"I had no idea what a livestock rep did. Driving a stock truck, I only saw part of the job. I thought agents leant on drafting gates and drove around looking cool. Being a trainee for two years opened my eyes to the industry. I achieved things I never thought I would," he says.


Auctioneering was one, taking Cameron into the unknown. 


"Greg said, 'You need to do this.' I like being in the background, doing my own thing, so when he put me up to sell prime lambs at the Temuka sale, that was in the deep end," he says.


However, he quickly became good enough to compete in the 2020 Heartland Bank Young Auctioneers Competition, pitting rural professionals under 30 up against each other. He finished third in his first shot at the title.


Once the two-year trainee-ship finished, Cameron went back to Temuka Transport as a group sales rep.


"It was a job I fancied a crack at when I was driving. After finishing the trainee-ship, I knew I wanted to be in livestock and was keen to come back to PGG Wrightson, though there was no suitable position right away, so I decided to bide my time, give it two years and see what happened."


Seven months on, the right job came up, and Cameron came back. 


"One of the best parts of the job is rocking up to people's places knowing they appreciate you. You might be the only person they see that day, so even though you are there for business, that's only part of it. Seeing your clients, having a yarn, one on one when no one else is listening, some people open up. I enjoy hearing stories: how they got where they are. 


"You can't beat driving out of the gate knowing you've made their day. If you've helped them outselling or buying something, given them some advice or just put a smile on their face, that's the best part of the job," he says.


As a livestock newbie, Cameron knows he can do the job, though he also has to earn the right to work with clients.


"You have to earn that trust by being honest and being yourself. You have to be a people person. You have to make sure not to let your clients down, and be prepared to admit when you make a mistake. There's nothing worse than running away from a problem, though the key is not having that problem in the first place.


"Confidence is important, and you can't stress about something you can't change. People worry what will happen in future, though the first decision is usually the right decision: if you want to do something, either make it happen or move on," he says.


With plenty of experienced colleagues in the region, Cameron has some good mentors on which to base his own career.


"Many of the guys we have here have been loyal to the company for 20 or 30 years. I would like to be like that. When we get together in Temuka, they talk about the old days. When I'm in that position, if I'm lucky enough to be like them, I wonder what stories I'll have to tell the young fellas then," he says.

Clean sweep for young PGG Wrightson auctioneers

24 November 2021

Ben Wright and Brooke Cushion make a nationwide mark among young rural professionals

PGG Wrightson secured a quinella at the tenth annual Heartland Bank Young Auctioneers Competition, held in Canterbury in early November. Ben Wright, a sheep and beef representative for the company based in Manawatu, finished first in the contest, while Brooke Cushion, a PGG Wrightson dairy, sheep and beef representative in Waikato, was runner up.


Ben Wright says having plenty of practice selling in Feilding and being surrounded by experienced colleagues willing to train him in the basics has helped develop the skills that won him the young auctioneer title.


"I was thrown straight into selling at auction from the start of my career and have no shortage of older guys coaching me the whole way through.


"A good auctioneer needs to be confident, as well as having a bit of charisma and character. You also need to be able to use your voice, which has always come easy for me," he said.


Callum Stewart, PGG Wrightson livestock national genetics manager, said the competition was an excellent opportunity for young rural professionals to show their skills.


"Auctions have played a vital role in the rural economy for centuries and have always been an essential part of PGG Wrightson's identity. Although technology is providing some exciting alternatives to sell livestock, produce or property, the auction is likely to remain an integral part of agribusiness for the foreseeable future.


"Earlier this year PGG Wrightson implemented an auctioneers strategy, which helps identify and train promising auctioneers with a bright future. Ben and Brooke are part of that programme, which helped them to show up, shine, and edge out their peers from other companies. They can be proud of their success, which stands them in good stead as they develop their careers. 


"A smartly run auction will achieve the best possible price for a farmer selling stock, feeding directly into the business bottom line. Ben and Brooke have shown they are masters of the craft and will do that for many farming businesses in the future," said Callum.


PGG Wrightson reps Russell Moloney of South Otago and Matt Holmes of Oxford also featured strongly in the Young Auctioneers Competition, which was for entrants under 30.


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