THE auction room at the Western Wool Centre (WWC) recently became the classroom for Tianyu Wool's least experienced wool buyer to learn from its most experienced.
Tianyu is one of Australia's biggest wool buyers - fifth on the Australian Wool Exchange (AWEX) national weekly buyers list after last week's sales, with 35,568 bales or 7.9pc of the national wool clip purchased by its buyers at the WWC and Melbourne and Sydney auction centres so far this season.
There is a lot more to being a successful wool buyer than simply calling price bids, you have to know wool and its technical specifications as well as its 'feel' and appearance, know the stencil names of woolgrowers who produce the types of wool your company buys and be able to match what you buy to what your company requires to fill orders.
So last week Tianyu, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Tianyu Wool Industry in Jiangsu Province, China, the world's biggest vertically integrated wool scourer and top maker, sent junior wool buyer Zena Wareham, 22, over from Melbourne, Victoria, to the WWC to learn from its master buyer.
Dave Cox has been in the wool industry since 1966 and has been Tianyu's wool buyer at the WWC for the past 20 years.
"I'm the company's longest-serving employee in Australia and Zena is the newest," Mr Cox said.
Ms Wareham joined Tianyu in March and, like Mr Cox, attended the company's annual meeting in China in July.
She has been working at the Melbourne auction centre.
Her background was in horticulture - she grew up on a vineyard at Heathcote in central Victoria - and she graduated from Melbourne University with a degree in animal science and management before joining Tianyu for her first job as wool buyer.
"It's been great coming to Perth to learn, coming from Melbourne the sunshine and warmth over here is wonderful," she said.