Covering the Goulburn and Murray valleys

Going, going ... to Calgary

A national title is another stepping stone for a young Shepparton auctioneer

GEOFF ADAMS April 22, 2014 3:20am

Shelby Howard, back in the "office" after winning a national auctioneering competition.

It was only a few years ago when a young and nervous Shepparton stock agent Shelby Howard was thrust into his first auctioneering role.

Now he is headed off to compete in an international competition.

‘‘I think the first time was a clearing sale, at Dookie on a Saturday morning, and they said: you’re next,’’ Mr Howard recalled.

‘‘It was just boxes of stuff and some furniture in a shed. I made about $2.’’

Five years later, on April 10, he won a national young auctioneer’s trophy at Sydney’s Royal Easter Show, after competing against the best from the other states.

For the 23-year-old Rodwell’s agent, it was his first national win but his second state title.

Yea auctioneer Ryan Sargeant was runner-up.

Mr Howard had to auction three cattle in front of a crowd of thousands in an arena at the show, after watching the NSW state title being judged.

‘‘They’re real buyers who are from the big companies or the small specialist butchers around Sydney,’’ he said.

‘‘Some of these butchers take personal pride in buying top cattle and being able to show off the ribbons and ask top prices for the cuts.

‘‘Some of the best lots have sold for up to $15/kg.’’

But Mr Howard did not necessarily have the top lots for his auction and initially found it hard to push prices up.

‘‘I couldn’t get into my patter that I usually do, in my own style. But everyone said it was okay, because it was a tough competition.’’

He credits his training to input from agents Bernie O’Dea and Tony Pianto, and said he admired nationally known dairy auctioneer Brian Leslie, who he described as the best in Australia.

He has watched in amazement as Mr Leslie reels off cow pedigrees at an auction.

‘‘His head is just an index of cattle. He can turn a crowd from falling asleep into just about jumping off the chairs.’’

Mr Howard said he enjoyed working with clients and that the goal of an agent was to get the best outcome for the vendors.

‘‘I spend a lot of time on the road, just talking to my clients, discussing how to get their cattle in the best condition for sale, that sort of thing.

‘‘Or trying to pinch new clients!’’

As well as a trophy, Mr Howard will be heading to the Calgary Stampede in Canada on July 6 to participate in the international competition.

He will be extending the trip to include a holiday with family and friends.

Mr Howard said a good auctioneer had the following attributes:

A clear loud voice.

A patter that flows.

Knows what they’re doing and what they’re selling.

An assertive manner which takes control.

Knowledge of the value of the beasts in the pen.

An understanding of human behaviour and body language.

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