When Jeff Wootton talks farming, finance, family succession, friendship or fast bowling, it's a conversation backed with more than 25 years of firsthand experience.
The Darkan product joined the Elders network last week in the role of customer solutions manager and real estate sales representative based at Bunbury.
And while Elders newest appointee may be new to the role, he is not new to the pink shirt, to the ups and downs of agriculture and rural business or to regional living.
Mr Wootton grew up in Darkan, where his parents owned the local store, completed his schooling at boarding school in Perth and then studied business and property valuation at Curtin University, exiting with a Bachelor of Business degree and a real estate licence.
This led to eight years as a business and commercial property valuation specialist focused on leasing and asset management at a Perth-based firm before taking some sporting time out.
As a budding fast bowler, he was at the time playing first grade cricket for South Perth and took time off twice to play county cricket in England during the Australian off-season.
When he returned from England the second time, the yearning to get back to country WA was stronger than ever and he took the opportunity to work as a grain acquisition manager with AWB (the former Australian Wheat Board) based at Lake Grace.
"After Darkan, it was all about grain and less about sheep, but it was a great town to live in and I met some of my closest friends there," Mr Wootton said.
"And the grain trading side of it was fascinating, especially as it was during much of the period of upheaval for AWB."
In 2003, Mr Wootton and his wife Miranda (Bailey) moved to work with her parents on the family farm at Narembeen, giving him four years first hand experience working at the coalface in agriculture and seeing the highs and lows of an industry reliant on weather and world markets.
"2002 was a shocker, 2003 was really good and the last two years were average so it certainly gave me a better appreciation and understanding of the world of farming," he said.
Sticking to regional agriculture, but this time with a financial bent, in 2007 Mr Wootton joined Rabobank in Merredin, where his commercial and rural background and business degree were an obvious drawcard.
Financial and customer service roles would consume the next 10 years of his working life based at Bunbury, where the family relocated in 2010 to provide "stable education opportunities" for their son Bailey and daughter Sari, now studying commerce and sports medicine respectively.
This period included seven years with the former Landmark servicing predominantly dairy, beef, horticultural and mixed farming clients and three years at CBA working with its corporate agricultural and business clients as well as large family run farms.
With banking more lending orientated, he missed the all round involvement with farmers and their businesses, being involved in long-term decision making, succession planning, buying decisions especially real estate related, so joining Elders Rural Bank (now Rural Bank) in 2013 was like a homecoming for him.
"In growth and acquisition, sourcing the right property has a huge bearing on the success of the business," Mr Wootton said.
"And as part of succession planning, acquisition may be of non-farming assets or financial products.
"Given my background, I think I can provide insight and add value to these processes, with solutions tailored to individual specific needs.
"Farms today are huge businesses often being run with minimal staff with the farmer having to be a computer technician, chemical expert, financial and market analyst and his wife or partner the CFO and bookkeeper.
"Similar sized businesses in Perth would probably have a staff of 10 or more so we can provide support and value, especially in being able to package the many products, services and subject experts Elders can offer for best advantage to the client."
This included real estate, farm supplies, insurance, grain trading, livestock and financial solutions.
"Elders is an iconic Australian company, 100 per cent devoted to agriculture with a great work environment provided by staff whose common goal is making agriculture in Australia more successful," he said.
Elders Real Estate senior rural real estate executive Simon Cheetham said Elders was thrilled to have someone of Mr Wootton's calibre join the company given "the unique skill set he brings to the table".
"Over many years working in agribusiness and finance, Jeff has forged close working relationships with many growers throughout the State, with the customer solutions manager role being a natural progression to continue to do exactly that," Mr Cheetham said.
"As farmland sales and purchases are always part of a bigger picture, the dual role will allow Jeff to assist farmers through that process with a professional and strategic approach."
Mr Wootton will work alongside Jeff Bruce, who is already in a similar role at Elders, as they service all regions of the State.
More information: Phone Jeff Wootton on 0418 827 908 or email email@example.com
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