AS he farewells a 45-year career as a livestock agent, Mike 'Juice' Newton says it is a nice time to hang up the boots with clients thriving and the industry at such a high point.
The Miller Whan & John agent says the industry is "without a doubt" in the strongest position it has resided in since he walked into Elders Strathalbyn as a fresh-faced youngster in 1977 to embark on a fulfilling career.
"This industry has been really, really kind to me and I hope it continues to be kind to the people I've dealt with," Mike said.
"I see no reason why the industry will fall off in the short term, short of something we can't foresee.
"I think our farmers have got better and our marketing has got better. We produce a product that has worldwide demand.
"We've got a growing population and more people need more food."
Growing up in Strathalbyn and starting out with the local Elders branch, Mike had brief stints on the Yorke Peninsula and in the Lower North before moving to Kingston SE in 1980.
He made the seaside town his home and has been based there ever since.
After 22 years with Elders, Mike made the switch to the Mount Gambier-based firm Miller Whan & John in 1999, which he described as one of the best decisions of his career.
"It's a family more than a company," he said.
"While I was based in Kingston and worked on my own primarily, you'd still get great support from the company."
A familiar face at Mount Gambier markets, Mike said the reliability of the South East made the region a great place to work in and for livestock enterprises to operate in.
"Kingston is very much a breeders area so you tend to do the same thing at the same time each year and tend to sell the same livestock to the same people so you develop a lot of strong relationships," he said.
Having traversed almost the entire country to attend livestock sales across nearly five decades, Mike has seen a great deal of change within the industry and within his own role.
He has seen small town markets go by the wayside - when he came to Kingston there were markets held there, in Lucindale, Kalangadoo, Keith and more - as well as the advent of Computer Aided Livestock Marketing then AuctionsPlus.
He said online selling, as well as mobile phones, had had the biggest impact on the agency game in his time.
"You used to have to make all your phone calls at night," Mike said.
"You'd get home from work, have dinner and then be on the phone until 10 o'clock.
"Now you do a lot of that in between jobs.
"A lot of those phone calls were telling someone a truck time or ringing people to tell them their stock or wool prices and going through each individual lot."
Even in the reliable SE, Mike has witnessed many highs and lows throughout the years.
He said the wool crash was undoubtedly the low point.
"The cattle market was ordinary in the late '70s but I'd only just started," he said.
"We then struggled through the mid to late '80s when the industry was forced to shoot sheep because they couldn't sell them.
"That would have been the lowest ebb in my career.
"The '90s was tough enough, but certainly in the last five or so years we continue to see prices we would have only ever dreamed of."
Reflecting on a 45-year career as a livestock agent, Mike says the people and relationships he made along the way are what he holds dearest.
"I've got clients that we're into the fourth generation of people that you've done business with," he said.
"There's not too many occupations around where you continue that relationship for that amount of time and I think that's a really special part of what we do.
"The friendships you make and the involvement you have in people's businesses and watching them grow to become more successful through the generations have no doubt been the highlight of my career."
Start the day with all the big news in agriculture. Sign up here to receive our daily Stock Journal newsletter.
Sign up for our newsletter to stay up to date.