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July 2014

Welcome to the New Jemalong Website

Wed, 23/07/2014 - 16:03

By virtue of the fact that you are reading this, means you are now viewing our new Public Website. We have over the last year or so been working to give our web presence a whole new fresh look and feel, and to do this we engaged the services of D. A Yates Photography + Design in Grenfell. Michael (the designer) and Denise (the photographer) have done a fantastic job, and have completely fulfilled the requirements of their brief.
Behind the Public Website though, we have also been working to rectify the out dated coding in the Grower Website, particularly in the Results and Estimates screen. When we first built the original website, we were using Internet Explorer version 2, and now, nearly fifteen years on, we are up to Internet Explorer 9, or so, and every version in between. On top of that there are other browsers such as Google Chrome and Mozilla Firefox. There are now Apple Macs running Safari, iPhones running Safari, Android devices, Windows devices, and the list goes on. Many of these programs and devices were not even thought of in 2001.
As you would appreciate, the essential changes we need to make don't come cheaply, and they take time, and we really want to get it right. The basis for our updated Grower Site has been modelled around the tablets, in particular the iPad. Once this re-coding is complete, the Grower Website will be viewable on all devices with all the functionality of using it on your PC at home.
With the new Results and Estimates page, we have made some significant alterations to enable you to have more control. Once we have gone “live” with this, we intend to run a series of workshops to re-educate our clients on how to operate the system for maximum benefit. This process has taken far longer than we expected it to, but all going well, it should be running about the end of August. I appreciate your patience on this. I know it has been annoying for some.
This year has also seen some structural improvements to the business, brought about by several factors. Firstly, three very key personnel have returned to the company on a full time basis at the Forbes and Tamworth branches. David Quirk, who had been working in Technical Services on a part time basis, has returned to full time based in Forbes, and is taking on more responsibility, and more clients. Sandy Paterson has also returned after a three year absence to fulfil the position of Store Manager at Forbes. Sandy's experience and leadership qualities made him the perfect choice for this role. In Tamworth, David Hallam has been elevated to Technical Services, whilst Grahame Scott (Scotty) has returned to the position of Store Manager. Scotty has always had a knack for keeping the store ship shape, and having him back, frees Tim, David and Colin up to service clients.
At Jemalong Wool we have always prided ourselves on the level of customer service and support we afford our clients, and we believe now more than ever, this needs to be the case. With this in mind, we have slightly readjusted the delegation of roles within the company so that each of our section managers has responsibility for a specific part of the business, thereby taking load off some and spreading it over many.
For me personally, running the business day to day, spending every Wednesday or Thursday, and sometimes both, at a wool sale, representing the company on relevant industry bodies, and still being responsible directly for a third of the company's throughput, has started to take its toll on how well I feel I'm able to adequately service my clients. My intention is therefore to give more of that responsibility to the section managers. That way I know our clients are getting the best possible service at the right time.
The Management team at Jemalong Wool, who all report directly to me, are Tim Drury (Regional Manager at Tamworth), Maxine Blyton (Regional Manager at Cooma), David Quirk (Technical Services Manager - Central West at Forbes), Steve Quirk (Technical Services Manager - Western Plains at Forbes) and Sandy Paterson (Store Manager at Forbes). Tim and Maxine both have wool store and technical services responsibilities, whereas David and Steve have no store responsibility, but they are responsible for a larger client base and area, whilst Sandy has no client responsibility, but is charged with ensuring our largest store and its associated staff are operating smoothly.
This is a relatively young and very enthusiastic team, and I have the utmost faith in what they are doing. People of this calibre and quality, make the difference, in my view, between us and our competitors. There's an old saying that “if you pay peanuts, you get monkeys” and I believe there to be some truth in this. Our costs continue to climb, as do yours, and if we are to maintain the high level of customer focussed service, and services, then we need to have the right personnel. We are confident that we offer the best in marketing choices to maximise your returns, and at almost half the cost of some of our competitors. We take great pride that we can demonstrate good value for money, and continue to remain supportive of our communities with sponsorships of Ewe Competitions, Wether Trials, Shearing Events, Yard Dog Trials, Shows, Race Meetings, Rodeos, Gymkhanas, Fleece Shows, and so on. We always aim to keep our cost to you as competitive as we can, and this year we will only adjust our fee in line with the CPI (Consumer Price Index), keeping our rate to $33.50 per bale.
There are some exciting things underway at Jemalong Wool, apart from our revamped and updated grower access. David and Steve are working hard to get the Forbes & District Maiden Merino Ewe Competition off the ground next year. Forbes has not had a merino ewe competition for nearly 20 years, and to support an event that promotes and encourages the merino ewe, is in our view, time and money well spent. Also at Forbes, Jemalong Wool is one of the major sponsors of the Forbes Ben Hall Shears, shearing and wool handling competition. That committee is hopeful of running the national titles next year or the year after, as well.
Up in Tamworth, as mentioned earlier, David has been elevated to Technical Services, and I believe he is really starting to “hit his straps”. David is, amongst other things, a very enthusiastic and customer focussed rep, and I'm sure he will do well in the role. Tim also advises me that this year, Nundle will play host to the Shearers Reunion, an event that we will look forward to being part of.
Meanwhile, down in Cooma, we have just this year started our first “Trainee Wool Broker”. Our Cooma clients may already have met Edward Thomas, and will no doubt have discovered that he is already fitting in well to the role. Ed will soon start auctioneering, and is learning all facets of the brokering business from receivals and reclass, to valuing and selling. Ed has also just completed his AWEX ID course. At the Cooma store meanwhile, we are about to further expand the rehandle by another 30 bins, to cater for an increase in wool volume. Maxine, Stuart, Suzie and Ed have obviously done a good job on the Monaro. Even though the clip generally continues to contract, the throughput at Cooma has risen. (I assume they must be doing something right!)
From a whole company point of view, 2013 / 2014 was a good season for some, but for many in the North, it was as bad as you can imagine. Fortunately we've been able to facilitate some agistment for some, and Ken and David have organised hay to go to the North to alleviate the suffering for others. Overall, our throughput was within a couple of hundred bales of the previous year, however, the sold wool was down. The finer end of the market being weak has been the main reason for this, as most clients hold onto their fine fleece wool. The carding market is the exact opposite. The strength in this sector has been astonishing. In general terms, everything offered in Room 2 (pieces, bellies, locks, crutchings, stains and crossbreds of all descriptions) have been bullish. This can simply be explained by the strength of the knitwear sector in the northern hemisphere, the raw material for which is mainly sourced from these “room 2” types.
It is my belief that the market generally will improve from here. For me, it all boils down to supply, or the lack thereof, and the capacity (particularly of China) to process this raw material. It's enormous, and even though “the pipeline” may be slow at present, you would have to be a total pessimist to think that would last. I do however also fear, that the finest end of the market may take some time to recover, and possibly some years to recover fully. It would appear, that with little difference in price from 18 to 22 micron, the most profitable sheep are those who can produce high fleece weights, regardless of the fibre diameter. Over the coming few years, I believe the dual purpose merino will yet again prove to be one of the best options for sheep and wool producers.