By Amy Conner
November 2004 -- Developed from the needs of area wool producers, Sonora Wool and Mohair was established in 1930. Since that time, it has diversified its product offering, and now sells both wool and mohair to domestic and international buyers.
Wool volumes peaked at more than 5 million lbs. of wool and mohair in one year at Sonora Wool and Mohair, but today yearly volumes average around 1 million lbs.
?Sheep numbers are declining, and ranches are being sold for other purposes such as hunting and recreation,? says Seco Mayfield, Sonora Wool and Mohair Co. warehouse manager, addressing the decline in wool volumes.
Although the amount of wool sold through the warehouse has declined over the years, Mayfield says he is still proud of the fact that he is able to sell some of the finest and highest yielding wool in the country.
?My goal is to get as close to Australian wool prices as possible,? says Mayfield. ?I think the wool that is produced in this area deserves that kind of price as long as it is prepared correctly.?
Mayfield encourages good preparation of wool, which entails taking out the bellies and also skirting and classing. Along with core tests and samples, these practices allow him to get a better price for the wool being sold.
In order to assist producers during shearing time and to assure that their wool is being prepared correctly, Mayfield employs two crews during the springtime to ensure accuracy and proper preparation.
?These procedures help maintain our low color-fiber count and also allow us to receive top dollar for the wool,? says Mayfield.
Mayfield recently became certified in AWEX-ID (Australian Wool Exchange Identification) and says that it could be of benefit for the producers and him.
?I see the process being used to help me describe wool directly to the buyers,? he says. ?It will standardize our marketing and will also be helpful in bringing our procedures up to world standards.?
Mayfield has also seen the number of wool buyers decrease since he began his career at Sonora Wool and Mohair in 1997. Because of these circumstances, Mayfield says that a good deal of his job consists of ?market timing.?
?One of the few ways I can affect the price of wool is to pick the right time to sell,? he says, ?and I like to think I?m doing that more often than not.?
Mayfield also states that the American Sheep Industry Association (ASI) has assisted in finding new international markets for the wool sold at Sonora Wool and Mohair, and looks to the association for answers to his questions on legislative issues.
?One of the most valuable things I do all year in terms of wool is attending the ASI yearly convention and its Wool Council meetings,? says Mayfield. ?It is of great benefit to me to have this type of interaction between warehousemen and buyers so that we can learn what is important in terms of marketing from year to year. This type of activity needs to continue.?