Warrnambool livestock agent Josh McDonald has attributed his success to his late grandfather, Noel Saffin, for teaching him how to be an "honest and respectful person", and an all-round good stockman.
Mr McDonald won the 2021 ALPA Victorian Young Auctioneer Competition at Pakenham's Victorian Livestock Exchange on Monday after vying for the prestigious title against eight other young budding auctioneers from across the state.
The 24-year-old has worked in the stock and station industry for six years and joined Rodwells at Warrnambool at the age of 18.
Following the merger of Rodwells and Rural Co, Mr McDonald joined Nutrien Ag Solutions and in 2020 was made livestock manager of the Warrnambool branch, making him one of the youngest people in a management role in Victoria.
Mr McDonald said he developed his love for the industry from his late grandfather, the late Noel Saffin, who was a director of the then branch Saffin Kerr Bowen Rodwells.
"I grew up going around with him on school holidays," Mr McDonald said.
"He never sold when I was around ... but he was a stock agent and I remember him as a very honest person who treated everyone with respect.
"He was a true gentleman."
Mr McDonald said he was "pretty nervous" before the competition but advice and constructive feedback from industry heavyweights helped him in good stead.
"I've had a lot of people help me along the way and I give full credit to Anthony Delaney, Adam Mountjoy, Rob Bolton and Tyson Bush but at home Phil Keane and Simon Henderson are like family to me," he said.
"The hardest part about auctioneering is getting up there and having the guts to do it to start with and then getting to know the buyers and the pricing.
"You often become that nervous that you get quite wound up but I've tried to settle down and just go with the flow and then it comes naturally if you know your values well and I've learnt that from my mentors."
The nine young Victorian auctioneers were judged on their voice, diction, price and manner.
Each auctioneer had the chance to sell two lots of two cattle (four in total) through the sale ring.
Both the winner and runner-up will compete in the national young auctioneers competition at the Sydney Royal Show in April.
The 2021 Victorian ALPA Young Auctioneers Competition finalists included:
- Ryan Bajada, Elders Rural Services, Bairnsdale
- Ned Balharrie, Nutrien Ag Solutions, Ballarat
- Jacob Brennan, Mulcahy Nelson Livestock, Tatura
- Alister Bright, Nutrien Ag Solutions, Ararat
- Ryan Carpenter, Nutrien Ag Solutions, Ballarat
- Josh Chiavaroli, Elders Rural Services, Korumburra
- Harrison Cozens, Elders Rural Services, Barnawartha North
- Jack Ginnane, Nutrien SGL, Leongatha
The competition was supposed to be held in September 2021, however, due to COVID-19 lockdowns and restrictions, the event was eventually rescheduled to early February.
Mr McDonald encouraged other young auctioneers to "get in and have a go".
"My favourite part about the job is working with the livestock; I love selling and auctioneering cattle and I enjoy doing something different each day," he said.
"There is no harm in trying and you build a very big network with all the contacts you make along the way."
Runner-up moved to Australia from Malta at the age of 10
Gippsland's Ryan Bajada, a stock agent with Elders Bairnsdale, claimed silver in the young annual competition.
Mr Bajada, 23, said he also developed an interest in agriculture at a young age and remembers his grandfather running a poultry feedlot in Malta, where he lived until the age of 10.
"That's when I got my first love for the agriculture industry," he said.
When he and his family moved from Europe to Australia, Mr Bajada was introduced to showing animals at agricultural shows, including at the Royal Melbourne Show, by his then school, Marist-Sion College, Warragul.
"I felt at home again when that happened," he said.
The runner-up joined Rodwells Pakenham in 2017 after working as a farm hand on both a beef and dairy enterprise, which taught him about animal husbandry and working with livestock.
"(Agent) Malcolm Reedy flagged to me that there was an opportunity at Rodwells and he organised an interview and that got the ball rolling," he said.
After a few years, he joined Elders firstly at Pakenham before transitioning to its Bairnsdale branch 10 months ago where he has worked in the business' stud stock division.
He said he enjoyed the fast-paced nature and hype of being an auctioneer, and brokering the best money possible for his clients.
"Initially my first teacher and mentor was my first boss in Anthony Delaney back in the Rodwells days and he is one of the highest regarded auctioneers in the business and he taught me my basis," he said.
"Since joining Elders, Morgan Davies has been my biggest mentor and I'm very grateful for both of them."
Judge says he would give a gig to all auctioneers
Everitt, Seeley and Bennetts director Les Seeley, one of three ALPA Victorian auctioneer judges, said he was impressed by the performance of all of the judges.
"I thought the winner (Josh McDonald) was a stand out with a voice beyond his years," Mr Seeley said.
"After Josh McDonald, we would be happy with any of the other eight contestants to sell cattle for our company."
All auctioneers were consistent says ALPA chief executive
ALPA chief executive Peter Baldwin said the Victorian competition attracted a high calibre of entrants.
"The highlight of the competition was the depth of the auctioneers and their consistency," he said.
"The foundation stone is the work that their employers have put into them and they're all beneficiaries of the ALPA auctioneer school; they've listened, they've learnt and they put it into practice.
"In our opinion, these fellas will make fine auctioneers."
Mr Baldwin, an auctioneer himself, said taking on a selling role helped you become a knowledgeable person.
"The hardest thing about being an auctioneer is picking up a bad market but if you know your values and you're researched enough, you will always win at the end of the day," he said.
"The competitors today respected the buyers and they commanded the respect, they didn't demand it, all while showing good personality - they weren't robots."