Elders Hamilton’s David Whyte is celebrating his 35th year with Elders. Going through considerable changes within the industry and the business itself, David says that managing time still remains a key challenge and the value of building relationships face to face will never be replaced by digitalisation.
Tell us about your background with Elders
I started as a District Wool Manager for Elders in Hamilton at 21 and moved into my branch manager role four years ago. The branch is a merger between Elders and Victorian Producers Cooperative. I’m still in wool though, currently building my client base back up and juggling the branch manager role. It’s challenging but great because we are in a reliable grazing area.
How have things changed in your time with the Company?
There have obviously been significant changes as a result of digitalisation. Mobile phones and emails have really sped up operations because information and communication is so accessible. It’s all a lot faster than it used to be but I think it’s for the better – digital allows you to be more efficient and makes the whole ag landscape more interesting.
What hasn’t changed?
Conversations remain the same. You can’t beat one on one conversations at the kitchen table or in the paddock – they give you a much better understanding of your clients business and how to plan for the future. Working face to face also helps manage the transition period where the next generation takes over which is a critical time for maintaining business.
What is the most challenging part of your role?
Time. I think this problem is synonymous across all jobs but for me, being able to manage my time to ensure I’m across everything and up to date with all parts of the business is the biggest challenge.
Second to this is finding the right people – having a good team around you helps to make everyone’s job better and easier.
What characteristics would you use to describe the Elders culture?
Determination and resilience. I think this is a result of being through really hard times and coming out in a better position. We know how to whether a storm, be a supportive structure for each other, and combat challenges and competition in the market.
How do you like to spend your spare time?
Whether working or not, my life is pretty thoroughly immersed in agriculture – working on my own farm that I own with my sons is definitely an outlet.
In my annual leave I love to travel. I’ve been running overseas farm tours for a number of years now which have taken me across the globe learning about other industries and practices.
The knowledge I’ve gained on these trips is invaluable and I always bring back something that helps me in my job, whether it’s developing skills in leadership by being responsible for the tour group, or learning about how other farmers deal with common challenges that we experience here.
I build relationships and am able to share my knowledge with my clients – which is really what it’s all about for me.