FOR young wool broker Rohan Gaunt his first year in the industry has been a steep learning curve but he has thrived on the challenge.
He started during a tumultuous time in the wool market and has also been part of a historic combination of agribusiness powerhouses.
Mr Gaunt, 25, joined Primaries of WA weeks before its parent company, Ruralco, was officially acquired by Nutrien Ltd and joined with Nutrien's Australian subsidiary, Landmark.
This week he said initially he was a little uncertain about the change, but the support from the Nutrien Wool WA team has been "outstanding" and he now sees many opportunities being part of a national business.
"With Nutrien Wool, everyone is part of the team," said Mr Gaunt who has recently been extending his knowledge of the wool industry by attending ram sales.
After completing a Bachelor of Agribusiness at Curtin University, he took up a casual position at a Fremantle woolstore, where he learnt the foundations to take him to the next step which was in January, when he became a wool broker.
He is out on the road with as many of the Nutrien Wool team as possible to see how they work with clients and make sure they understand and meet client needs.
"It's a big learning process, but the thing I'm learning is it's all about how you deal with people, including how to talk with growers," Mr Gaunt said.
"It's not always necessarily talking about wool.
"It's about having that relationship with your client and just making sure that they're catered to properly."
With COVID-19 severely impacting global wool demand, that has meant some tough conversations with clients.
"The team has supported me and given me more responsibility.
"While it's not very nice having to tell clients that their wool didn't sell or that the price has dropped, you've got to be honest with them and help them find solutions."
Mr Gaunt said being part of the broader Nutrien Ag Solutions network provided benefits to clients and to him.
For his clients, there's financial security as well as the convenience of branches throughout WA where they can meet and talk face-to-face with staff.
For him, the bigger business has defined structures and different learning opportunities.
He is confident wool will bounce back.
"I think once we do get on top of this virus situation and people once again increase their spending, wool will become popular again," Mr Gaunt said.
"It's still one of the best raw materials you can get.
"That's why it's used in luxury suits to woollens and high-performance activewear and it being a natural, renewable product, it's always going to grow back - you cut it and it grows back.
"There's a lot of guys out there that probably wouldn't still be farming if it wasn't for sheep - not just in wool, but also meat - so I think it is a really vital part of Australian agriculture."
As previously reported, Mr Gaunt grew up in Mukinbudin and his interest in wool began as a child playing in Wheatbelt woolsheds with friends.
Many of the woolgrowers he visits are older than him, but he is glad to see more young people are starting to realise the importance of wool in their farming system and how much it brings to their business.
"It is good to see young guys out there, male or female, who are willing to give wool a crack and I think they will see the benefits of it too if they stick to it," Mr Gaunt said.
The generations can learn from each other, he said.
He is learning from the older wool brokers and growers and he is hoping young people like him can bring new ideas and energy into the industry.