A ?Topmaker for a Day?
March 31, 2005
By Barry Savage
March/April 2005 -- The "Topmaker for a Day" Workshop conducted at the 2005 American Sheep Industry (ASI) Convention was again a success. The workshop, the second of its kind in as many years, was run by Bob Couchman , Capronex Services Pty Ltd, Melbourne, Australia, with assistance from ASI staff. Diego Paullier and Guillermo Fenoglio of Chargeurs, the United States' only wool comber, also assisted with the popular workshop.
Approximately 22 participants from several sectors of the U.S. wool industry -- ranchers, shearers, warehousemen, wool processors, exporters and university personnel to name a few -- enjoyed a full day of education and interactive fun in learning about the physical attributes, technical and financial elements of wool that combine to make a successful topmaker.
The first part of the program familiarized participants with the language used by wool combers, as well as which technical aspects are crucial in determining how the comber goes about selecting wools to meet the specifications and price criteria of a wooltop he has sold to a wool spinner.
Participants then separated into groups and competed against one another to buy wool at an open-cry auction. The wooltop they bought had to meet the specifications of the wooltop they had sold - hopefully at a profit. Meeting the specifications with the highest profit margin was the criteria for the winner of the day. (A very sophisticated computer program converted the greasy component lot specifications to final wooltop result.)
And as some participants found out, friends can quickly become verbally competitive antagonists under such circumstances.
"I never realized how competitive he really was," said one participant good-naturedly of another.
"In the end, all participants are winners," said Couchman, the workshop's lead instructor. "It is a unique opportunity for raw wool growers and marketers to immerse themselves for a day in those characteristics of wool that are crucial to the success of the topmaker - in most instances, the initial customer for our wool.
"Such knowledge is critical to driving on-farm decision-making in a successful and profitable direction," Couchman added.
The "Topmaker for a Day" workshop is part of an overall ASI program to further improve U.S. wool quality and commercial understanding of the wool market, both domestically and internationally.
"Success in these elements of the program are key to improved profitability in wool growing," said Barry Savage, ASI's international wool marketing consultant.