STOCK agent Phil Nagel’s long career in the livestock industry has taken him across the state in numerous roles, but after retiring recently he says one of the best aspects of his time in the job has been the relationship formed with clients and colleagues.
Phil grew up on a wheat and sheep farm at Swan Reach, but with the property in a low rainfall area and not covering a large area, Phil’s family sold it in 1977 and he then joined Southern Farmers.
“I spent a short time in Adelaide and then the first branch I went to was Lameroo,” he said.
“From Lameroo I moved to Karoonda, then to Naracoorte, and then to Strathalbyn.”
From 1977 to 1984 Phil remained with the company as it went through a number of changes, eventually becoming Dalgety Bennetts Farmers.
But in 1984 his career path took a detour as he left the business and began selling real estate.
“I gave it a go, but I didn’t enjoy it that much, so in 1987 I joined Elders,” he said.
Phil was based at Bordertown with Elders, first as a stock agent, then later as the branch manager.
He remained there for a decade before making another big change in 1997 and moving to Kangaroo Island with Elders.
“I just saw it as a chance to do something different, and I loved it there,” he said.
Health reasons meant a move back to the mainland was necessary, so when he saw the manager’s job come up at Murray Bridge in 2000 he applied. “I got the job and have been there ever since,” he said.
Phil says there have been many highlights in his decades in the industry.
“One of the things I’ve really enjoyed is conducting clearing sales,” he said.
“I’ve done a lot of them, probably 100 over the years, and it hasn’t just been big farm clearing sales. I’ve done clearing sales for a radiator shop, a bakery and an engineering works.”
The sales were sometimes conducted in trying conditions, with most farm clearing sales held in February or March.
“I’d often joke, when people asked what day a clearing sale was on, that I’d rung the weather bureau and asked which day would be the hottest day of the year,” he said.
Other highlights include the relocation of the Elders Murray Bridge office and rebuilding the Murray Bridge saleyards.
Phil says one of his favourite aspects of his job was the relationships formed with clients.
“One of the greatest things was becoming an important part of a farmer’s business,” he said.
Phil says it is pleasing to be able to finish his long career in the sheep industry at a time when the sector is on a high.
“Growing up on a wheat and sheep farm, I’ve always enjoyed working with Merino sheep,” he said.
“Recently I’ve been selling sheep at prices I wouldn’t have dreamed of 10 years ago.
“Seeing sheep make $300 a head has been a highlight, especially when you’ve been involved in preparing and drafting them. It’s been really enjoyable to see people who have stuck with sheep get rewarded for it.”
Seeing client Ian Farley’s, results at the Naracoorte first-cross sales has been a high point, although getting ready for last year’s ewe lamb sale was a challenge.
“More than 75 millimetres of rain fell while we were getting the sheep ready,” he said.
Despite being officially retired, he will auctioneer the Murray Bridge off-shears sales later in the year.
Phil was farewelled in mid-March with an event at the Murray Bridge Bowls Club, which was attended by about 100 people.