Jones endsstellar career in livestock industry
After 45 years Brenton Jones has retired from the livestock game.
“You wouldn’t last if you didn’t like it” – that is how Landmark Tintinara’s Brenton Jones sums up the life of a stock agent, with many hours on the phone and on the road.
He has not only lasted but gained enormous respect from his colleagues, clients and buyers.
But after nearly 45 years in the business, he has retired.
Much of the time has been spent in Tintinara, including the past 22 years as franchise owner, with his wife Deb.
Brenton, who grew up on a farm at Brinkley, started with Bennett & Fisher in Murray Bridge in February 1973.
His childhood best mate’s father Dean Cottle, who was the branch manager at the time, gave him his start.
“He knew a bit about me and said you had better go down to Currie Street (in Adelaide) on Tuesday and have an interview, which I did,” he said.
“A couple of days later he rang again and said come in at 8am on Monday.”
Among his first jobs were sweeping the office floor and keeping the boss’s car clean to take buyers to markets, but also double entry book-keeping and handwritten ledgers.
The busy fortnightly sheep, cattle and pig markets at Murray Bridge were a chance to develop his livestock eye.
Both Murray Bridge and Karoonda – which was a sub-branch – held large offshears sales, meaning long hours loading and unloading rail carriages.
“The senior bloke would be on the top deck and the little junior would be on the bottom where it (the roof)was lower and you would gradually creep up until you got a gutter bolt to the head,” Brenton said.
In the early 1980s when Dalgety merged with Bennett Farmers he had a chance to “get on the road”.
In May 1983 he was transferred to Tintinara.
It was interesting times with blue green aphid having destroyed thousands of acres of Hunter River lucerne and the area still reeling from the 1982 drought.
But Brenton says they had many happy years there and it was great sheep breeding and finishing country.
“In the early days there would have been more than 100,000 sheep sold through Tintinara yards in four offshears sales with us and Elders,” he said.
In 1991 Brenton accepted a position in Broken Hill, NSW, having always wanted to work in the pastoral area.
The Western Division was in the grip of one of its worst droughts on record and it took 18 months before the heavens finally opened, with 625 millimetres falling in two months.
He remembers marvelling at how quickly the country and stock improved.
“The cattle which on one day were near death were suddenly fat,” he said.
THE sale of Dalgety Bennett Farmers to Wesfarmers in late 1994 had the company franchise some of its branches, including Tintinara.
Brenton and Deb Jones made the move back to the Upper SE from Broken Hill, NSW, and Wesfarmers Dalgety Jones was born.
They have provided livestock, real estate, insurance and wool services ever since, as well as merchandise until 2000 when IAMA was bought out by Wesfarmers.
Brenton says he has been fortunate to work with many of the “great characters” of the industry.
He is very grateful for the trust and support his clients and also the buyers have shown in him.
“It is the people who have made it, but it has also been a great area to fatten stock out of seasons, especially in the past 10 years when they have really worked out how to grow lucerne again,” he said.
Brenton says the time is right to retire, especially with high livestock prices.
“I've seen some good prices over the years but they all pale into insignificance of what is happening now,” he said.
He is looking forward to spending more time with his wife, three daughters and their families spread across the state, as well as fishing and playing lawn bowls.
“We are caravaning novices but have bought a van and plan on getting away to the West Coast and a few other places,” he said.
Landmark Tintinara’s branch manager is Ashley Obst, with Michael Lawrence now handling livestock and Brittany Hancock in merchandise.