Carl's 40 years is a darn good effort

24 Feb, 2017 02:00 AM
Wool broker Carl Poingdestre shows off his certificate recognising 35 years of service to Primaries of WA wool division.
Wool broker Carl Poingdestre shows off his certificate recognising 35 years of service to Primaries of WA wool division.

FORTY years in the Western Australian wool industry belies Carl Poingdestre's place of birth and its historical link with dairying.

Mr Poingdestre, 55, was born on Jersey, the largest of the Channel Islands off the coast of France, which gave its name to a breed of dairy cow.

But a family move to Fremantle when he was 10 ended any chance of a career with cows and eventually turned his attention to sheep and wool.

Like many Fremantle boys of his ilk, Mr Poingdestre left school at 15 and took the first local job he could find.

With Fremantle home to long-standing company names in the wool industry, the western wool selling centre and with wool stores and wool processors clustered around the port, inevitably that first job was in wool.

It was with Lohmann & Co, a German-based company that became part of Standard Wools.

"They were good days, I worked with Bert Travia and Ron Kruger in the sorting department - they're names people in the industry will recognise - and Sam Denic was the store foreman," Mr Poingdestre said.

"I worked there for two and a half years then I did a sheep and wool certificate at Fremantle Technical College in 1980, studying full time for 12 months to better myself."

His certificate is still proudly displayed in his office at Primaries of WA in Bibra Lake where he now works as a wool broker.

A 12-month stint with shearing teams followed the study.

"I worked all over the station country (and) right down south, as a rousey (roustabout) and then a wool presser.

"It was with Daryl Beatty - they use to call him the bald eagle, people will remember him, he was my first boss.

"I ran into him again a few years ago wool-classing down at Boddington.

"I met some great characters, one of the shearers was (Les) Porky Bowditch and his wife Doreen was the cook.

I took Porky up to Edjudina (a sheep station 150 kilometres north east of Kalgoorlie) and I had all the stores in my car, it was Falcon station wagon.

"Porky said 'Carl, wind all the windows down and the back window and all the dust will just blow straight through and out the back'.

"Well, when we got to Edjudina we were just full of dust."

Like many who joined Primaries in its early days, he was introduced to one of the founders, Des Sheedy, by a family friend.

"It was the standing joke, Des said 'I can promise you a job until Christmas' - he always said that - but 35 years later I'm still here," Mr Poingdestre said.

He was Primaries' wool store foreman for 10 years.

"We used to start at 5.30am and knock off at 8pm - they were big days, we were busy, busy (at the height of the season).

"After 10 years of running the store I was pretty burnt out but Des said we'll find another position for you - because I knew a lot of the cockies from unloading their wool.

"I knew wool already from working in the sorting department, with the shearing teams and in the store - I knew how to skirt a fleece - I had to learn the marketing side of the business.

"I ended up doing some training under Des and going bush with him and then Simon (Simon Joel who became a partner in Primaries in 1982) learning from them before I was allocated an area (Goomalling).

"It was a bit daunting going out on your own, but I met some nice people.

"Then I went to Corrigin and branched out to Kulin and had a lot of success out through Corrigin-Kulin and still hold a lot of those clients today.

"As Des started to move towards retiring, I took over his clients at Boddington, Wandering, Pingelly and Brookton.

"I've formed a lot of friendships and still enjoy the job."

Mr Poingdestre's service - he is the company's longest serving employee - was recognised with Primaries of WA general manager Andrew Lindsay presenting him with a certificate.

He sees a positive future for the industry that has been his working life.

"There was a time in the early to mid-1990s where it was pretty depressing - it was a difficult time for everybody, the selling off of the (wool) stockpile and the quota system with sheep," Mr Poingdestre said.

"But we're through that and the market is very buoyant.

"I'm a strong believer in cycles and we're in a really good position at the moment, everyone's confident which is good to see.

"Those difficult times probably weeded out all of those cockies that weren't really sheep people.

"The ones that have stayed in (the industry), I believe, now produce a better quality clip, overall we've got better quality wool.

"And with the prices today, the young blokes are actually starting to show a bit of interest in sheep, which is encouraging."

Mr Poingdestre paid tribute to his colleagues for their help and support, particularly after he had a bad cycling crash in Italy in 2013 while competing in the Masters Games World Championship.

He spent three weeks in hospital and three months recovering before returning to work.

"You know who your friends are after something like that," he said.

Mal Gill

Mal Gill

is wool and dairy writer for Farm Weekly


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