FOR Sam Howie, 21, a career in wool was as natural as following in his father Peter's footsteps.
He is starting out at the bottom of the pile, as a wool industry trainee, but if he continues to follow this path, Sam could end up at the top of the pile.
But he does not get - nor does he expect - an easy ride.
This young gun has to prove himself to fellow workmates and to his father that he can satisfactorily carry out whatever task he is given on his own merits.
Sam is one of two trainees taken on by WA wool marketer Dyson Jones in the past 18 months.
The aim of its traineeships is to ensure there is a flow of young people coming through and gaining experience in all aspects of the wool marketing industry so that Dyson Jones continues to prosper for the next 40 years - it celebrates its 40th anniversary this year.
Brothers Terry and Ken Dyson established the company as Dyson Wools in 1979.
In changed its trading name to Dyson Jones Wool Marketing Services in 1997 to reflect the shareholding of senior marketing director Shane Jones and in 2003 Sam's father Peter was offered a shareholding and was appointed trading director.
Dyson Jones Wool Marketing Services and Australian Wool Network merged in 2008, with the WA arm of the business retaining the Dyson Jones name and Mr Howie and another long-standing shareholder and employee John Stothard retaining directorships.
Mr Howie was appointed State manager.
Sam joined Dyson in February and is currently based at its Bibra Lake office and wool stores.
"He's doing a bit of everything at the moment, but once he's done his 12 months traineeship we'll send him out to the country," his father said.
The other Dyson trainee Christie Felber has completed her 12 months traineeship is now working with the company's clients in the Pingelly region.
But Christie and Sam were back working together last week at the 47th Newdegate Machinery Field Days where Dyson Jones Wool Marketing Services is a major sponsor.
There they helped man the Dyson Jones Wool and Technology Pavilion over the two days, met with clients and together judged the fleece wool competition.
Sam was also a wool judge representing Dyson Jones at this year's Make Smoking History Wagin Woolorama.
At Newdegate previously he has judged the ewe hogget competition and when he was at WA College of Agriculture, Cunderdin and later working for the Bolt family at Claypans Poll Merino stud, Corrigin, he judged Merino rams as part of youth judging competitions at the Perth Royal Show.
"Basically I'm following in dad's footsteps, he started out as a trainee and was a wool buyer for a while," Sam said.
"Even though he's the boss, it's pretty tough, I don't get any slack.
"I'll have to learn to make good coffee before I get to move up.".
Joking aside, Sam is appreciative of the chance to start a career through the traineeship.
Raised on a small property at Serpentine, he attended Tranby College, Baldivis, and completed his years 11 and 12 at WA College of Agriculture, Cunderdin, which awakened his interest in agriculture.
"I really loved going to ag college and it sort of steered me towards finding a career in something to do with agriculture and probably sheep and wool," he said.
Sam's first job, arising from a chance conversation with a member of the Bolt family soon after he completed his education, confirmed his future career path would probably be with sheep and wool.
"I worked for Claypans for two years and that's where I got my passion for Merinos," he said.
"I learned a lot there about genetics and breeding and it sort of set my sights on the Merino sheep and wool industry."
But without a permanent position available to him, Sam moved from Corrigin to Dumbleyung and 12 months there helping with harvest and working as a farm labourer only served to reinforce his desire for a career in wool.
When the opportunity arose to apply for the traineeship with Dyson Jones this year he grabbed it with both hands.
"I'm doing all sorts of different things learning about the industry, from driving the forklift in the wool stores to helping prepare the (sale) catalogues," he said.
"I've been going out on the road with (Dyson Jones' Wheatbelt area managers) Peter Ryan and Andrew Kittow and down south with (Great Southern representative) Gavin Shepherd.
"I've gone on lots of trips with dad over the years to call on farms so I know a lot of his clients.
"Hopefully one day they'll give me my own area, but I don't know where that will be."
Sam has also been learning about the sharp end of the industry - selling wool lots by open cry auction at the Western Wool Centre (WWC).
He has pencilled - recording whether wool lots are sold or passed in, the price bid and by which buyer, a job with a lot of responsibility and requiring maximum concentration for the whole auction - for Dyson Jones' normal wool auctioneer Lyndon Webb.
Sam has also had two cracks at auctioning wool himself at WWC.
"That was quite challenging, it really got the nerves going," he said.
"The buyers were pretty good to me though and I'm sure I'll get better at it once I've done it a few more times and the nerves have settled down."
Wool auctions require the auctioneer to recognise the voice of the buyer calling the bid to speed up the process and Sam admitted he had to read the name tags on the tables in front of buyers to identify who was calling the bids and for which company, as some buyers bid for two or more client companies.
"I think I'll enjoy selling wool once I've had more experience at it," he said.
A move back home while he works at the wool stores has also come with the benefit of a return to home-cooked meals rather than fending for himself.
"I've put on a bit of weight since I've moved back home," said Sam, who has his father's lean build.
Although living in Perth, he played a second season this year with the Kukerin Dumbleyung Football Club in the Upper Great Southern league, but the team only won three of its 14 games and finished on the bottom of the ladder.
Compared to his football career, his fledgling career in the wool industry is looking a lot more secure.
"I certainly think there's a good future in wool, there's a demand for it and I don't see why that won't continue on into the future," Sam said.
"From what I've seen on the market reports today it looks like prices have levelled out and hopefully they will get better from now on."
Perhaps without realising it, Sam has already adopted the WA wool broker's incessant habit of watching what the Melbourne and Sydney wool markets are doing - they trade two hours earlier than the WWC so are a good indication of what the local market is likely to do.
It is a habit that might help him step up into the big footsteps stretching out ahead of him.