Western Australia is my second home, considering the amount of time I spend over here, so it’s only natural that I am currently sitting in Busselton reflecting on the year that’s been – and looking forward to what will be our 35th year in business next year.
It has been a real mixed bag for the Australian livestock industry in 2018. While we have had record wool and lamb prices, some parts of our country have been in crippling drought, and other areas have been facing uncertainty with the ongoing Live Export debate.
While the media continue to focus on the hardships (which I don’t discount), I hope that we can all continue to focus on what lessons we can learn, for continuous improvement and risk diversification. We visited Craig Heggaton from Kojonup, WA, where we heard about his diversified income streams including a sheep artificial breeding centre (Genstock Pty Ltd), lupin and barley pallet production, sheep feedlot and cropping to effectively manage their risk in all conditions. We also hear about customers like Ray Haigh from Trangie, NSW, who is uncovering grain buried over 15 years ago.
In these tough times comes stories of true resilience and community spirit. It was important to us that we support those who are supporting farmers in need, by providing back loads to trucks delivering hay to NSW and QLD for a majority of our deliveries.
On a separate note, I often reflect back to my days fencing in western Victoria and how far we have come as a business. My eldest daughter, Hannah Gilbert, wasn’t even born when I designed and supplied our first sheepyards in 1984 – yet she was answering phones from the age of five, and in January this year, came back to the fold as General Manager – my boss! I imagine many of you can relate to this intergenerational change. It’s difficult for many of us to ever step away completely, but there is a real sense of pride as one of your children comes home to take on the family business.
This year I have been able to step back from the day-to-day running of the business and can now focus on what I love: stockyard design. I genuinely love what I do each day. I travel the country, meet like-minded rural Australians, and regularly realise that it’s a lot less than six degrees of separation throughout the country! Now that Hannah has freed up my time, I plan to spend even more time travelling across the country creating stockhandling solutions that will last the next 50 years.
With the next generation comes fresh thinking and new ideas. Some of the great improvements we’re looking forward to in 2019 include our new website and associated brand refresh; our significantly improved delivery experience with the purchase of a new Freighter 45 foot trailer and Palfinger crane; and 3D visualisation to bring our customised designs to life.
We wish you all a dry and successful harvest, a relaxing Christmas season with family and friends, and toast to a successful 2019 where (hopefully!) our stars align with seasons and prices.
Founder and Principal Stockyard Designer