Jake McKenzie of MD and JJ Anderson, Crookwell plans to bring home the winning sash and trophy from the ALPA NSW Young Auctioneers Competition next month.
The 23-year-old is one of 10 finalists from the state who will step up onto the rostrum in front of a packed arena at Sydney Royal Easter Show on April 3.
Mr McKenzie has been practising auctioneering at the monthly and weekly cattle and sheep sales for MD and JJ Anderson owner Greg Anderson at South Eastern Livestock Exchange, Yass.
"I think I get more of a go than most young people," Mr McKenzie said. "I think I can be a bit of a pest sometimes, I get in his (Greg Anderson's) ear and say I want to do it."
Working for a small, family-owned business also gives Mr McKenzie more opportunities to get in front of buyers.
Mr McKenzie said he had a good grip of the cattle side of business when he started working for MD and JJ Anderson about two years ago, but has been learning the sheep side and how to auction from Mr Anderson. "Everyone is nervous at the start and I'm still a bit nervous going out and meeting new clients, but it's exciting at the same time," he said.
As part of the competition, Mr McKenzie has been to the ALPA Auctioneer School where they teach students how to conduct clearing, livestock and ring sales and engage students with a speech therapist. "They teach you to breathe properly, slow down and speak clearly. When you listen back you can hear the difference," Mr McKenzie said.
He also said it's been great to meet other young auctioneers. "It's always good to have their contacts. If you're trying to sell stock for a client, you can ring them up anywhere," Mr McKenzie said.
The competition also partnered Mr McKenzie with mentor Paul Dooley, who won the competition in its first year when he was branch manager of Elders Crookwell. "He's been really great, especially this past week," Mr McKenzie said.
Australian Livestock and Property Agents Association CEO Peter Baldwin said the aim of the 30-year competition is to bring young auctioneers up through the industry, incorporating practical and theoretical education.
"We're really proud of Jake. That's what the competition is all about, helping someone from a small town come up through the industry," Mr Baldwin said.
Mr Anderson had never entered an employee in the competition before and said he'd seen Mr McKenzie's confidence and skills grow as a result.
At Sydney Royal, each finalist will be given three steers to auction to meat buyers in the arena. The sale will be live-streamed to an international audience, Mr Baldwin said.
Mr McKenzie doesn't deny anticipating nerves on the day but said he intends to come home with a ribbon. "It's just the job really," he said.
Auctioneering has been Mr McKenzie's dream job since the age of four, having grown up around the sale yards at Wagga Wagga where his dad worked for 30 years.
"Ever since I was a young kid I was always going there. I was buying cattle when I was a two or three-year-old. I'd just put my hand up," he said.
Mr McKenzie finished school early and worked for a butcher shop in Wagga but was keen to get back outside and soon got work in the yards for a livestock business.
He moved to live with his partner in Boorowa about four years ago and started working for Mr Anderson.
Having mentors and being patient were Mr McKenzie's top tips for other young people wanting to be an auctioneer. "If you want something, just keep working for it. I had seven or eight jobs, working for six months on farms before I got this one."
Good luck to Mr McKenzie, who will head up to Sydney with his partner the day before the competition for the ALPA Young Auctioneers Competition Dinner on Thursday, April 2.
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