Hammer falls on brilliant career

05 Jan, 2015 01:00 AM
TOP AUCTIONEER: Pathfinder stud’s Elle Moyle and Landmark auctioneers Malcolm Scroop and Kevin Norris at the Pathfinder sale in 2012 with the stud’s $14,000-top price bull which sold to Nigel Campbell, Kinloch Pastoral, Perth, Tasmania.
TOP AUCTIONEER: Pathfinder stud’s Elle Moyle and Landmark auctioneers Malcolm Scroop and Kevin Norris at the Pathfinder sale in 2012 with the stud’s $14,000-top price bull which sold to Nigel Campbell, Kinloch Pastoral, Perth, Tasmania.

A DECADE is a good innings for a stud stock auctioneer, but Landmark stud stock account manager Malcolm Scroop has well and truly gone further - spending more than 35 years working for SA seedstock producers.

His professional approach, personable nature, and livestock knowledge has seen him gain enormous respect in the state's sheep and cattle industry, and help further many SA studs.

However, six months ago at the age of 66 he made the difficult decision that it was time to put down the gavel and step off the rostrum.

Asked about his longevity in the rigorous job his answer was simple: "every day was an adventure".

In recent years he has clocked up about 70,000 kilometres per annum travelling to on-property auctions, interstate multi-vendor breed sales, and dispersals.

"I just loved going somewhere different everyday, the stock, and still get a buzz out of every auction - that is the hardest part to give up," he said.

His astute eye for sheep and cattle was fostered in a six-year apprenticeship at the old cobblestone Gepps Cross saleyards.

It all began on January 4, 1965, when - fresh out of Seacombe High School - he became a cadet with Southern Farmers. Each week the yards were a hive of activity with as many as 50,000 to 60,000 sheep and lambs, 6000 cattle, and 3000 to 4000 pigs.

Livestock were sent in from huge distances on rail wagons, from as far afield as the Birdsville Track, and Alice Springs. One memory etched in his mind is of cattle being walked across Main North Road.

Malcolm was able to learn from some great auctioneers.

"I didn't realise it at the time but it was a great learning experience," he said of his first chance in a branch in 1970 - a position at Kapunda.

He credits branch manager at the time Jack Dermody with teaching him integrity and values which would stand him in good stead for years to come.

Kapunda was home for three years and he was kept busy with four weekly markets - Truro, Freeling and Eudunda pig sales, and cattle at Kapunda.

In 1973 he moved to Truro, promoted to livestock salesperson.

The following year he made the decision to leave the company, which had been taken over by Farmers Union, and the modest pay packet, to deliver bread for Tip Top Bakeries. At the time, Malcolm and his wife Shirley lived at Reynella, they now live at Woodside.

But in 1978 he was lured back, taking up a stud stock role.

He enrolled in a three-year night wool classing course at Marleston Technical College which he credits with igniting his passion for Merinos and wool.

The course included two shearings at Wertaloona Station in the northern Flinders Ranges, where 22,000 sheep were shorn in 15 working days.

Over the years Malcolm has seen many buoyant selling seasons, but also the downturn of the cattle industry in the late 1970s and sheep being shot in the 1980s.

He has had the honour of standing over some outstanding catalogues and says one of his career highlights was the opportunity to take over from John Sinclair at The Basin Angus sale at Willalooka.

He also feels privileged to have spent time in a car with some of SA's great livestock producers including Don Moyle of The Basin Angus stud, Colin Greenfield of Billa Kalina Station, Harold and Joan Broad of Jervois and Etadunna stations on the Birdsville Track, Jack Boughen of Karoonda, and Steve and Rita DiGiorgio of Lucindale, listening to their experiences.

Malcolm says modestly that he is not a natural auctioneer. "There are gifted auctioneers around but it didn't come easy and I had to work at it to reap the rewards," he said.

"I've had to work at it but I think I have gained people's respect. People have got to trust you and I think you can see it in their faces when you are taking their bids."

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    Catherine Miller

    Catherine Miller

    is Stock Journal's livestock editor and South East correspondent


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