Thoughts from 38,000 Feet (11,582 Meters)
Back to the US
As I fly back to the US from my most recent trip to Australia, sleep won’t come as my mind is filled with thoughts from the past 10 days of travel, visiting with customers, attending meetings, visiting with our salespeople, Distributors, Dealers and staff, and generally immersing myself in the Australian Culture. Following are some of my thoughts on this fantastic journey, just completed.
My travels this trip took me from Sydney to Rockhampton by air, a massive loop West of Rockhampton by vehicle, Rockhampton to Brisbane by air and then, Brisbane to Coolatai, Ballendean and Armidale on to Orange then Albury to Melbourne and Bendigo and back to Melbourne to fly home, all by car. Many miles and a huge swath of country. What I saw was the greenest greens and the tallest forage I have ever seen in Australia. Conversations with people on the route reinforced that this is the best your wonderful country has looked in many of their lifetimes. In many areas, there were very few stock as the liquidation from your recent drought was significant and rebuilding is just beginning. When I did see stock, the cattle were belly deep in forage and the sheep were simply heads moving through a sea of grass.
Visiting with customers I observed smiles as wide as the swollen rivers I crossed due to the prices being received for cattle. It is a wonderful time to be a cattleman when all is as good as it is. From Queensland to Victoria, people are reinvesting in their properties, mending fences and making improvements that the lack of profitability in the past prohibited. It is encouraging to see the growth in infrastructure, the giving back to the country and the preparation for times to come. What those times will be, is anyone’s guess, but I would encourage all readers of this article to study what has happened in the US under similar conditions, pay attention to the history of weather and beef cycles past and review the fundamentals in your industry. They will guide you to the correct actions over the next couple of years. I met some amazing individuals along the way - the heads of pastoral companies, pure-bred operators, stock hands and Feedyard operators. I appreciated each one of them for the honesty of the conversation and sharing their thoughts about the products we sell and service, but also their needs going forward. In all cases, the attitudes are positive and confident. My emotional and enthusiasm tank was also filled by two remarkable individuals I met along the way. Sam and Jenny Bailey are living proof that no matter what turns (or rolls) life takes, it can always be worse. They taught me that enjoying the simple pleasures of a morning cup of coffee on the veranda with the sun shining on you during heartfelt conversation, is as great a blessing as getting top dollar for your cattle. Truly amazing individuals and if you haven’t read their book, I would suggest you go to town immediately and buy a copy, read it and bask in the telling of an amazing story.
Meetings are a part of my life and this trip was no different. However, I learned more about the passion of those who lead this company than I ever had in the past. Trust me when I say that the people you have managing Performance Feeds have your best interests at heart. They each wake up every day with the singular dedication to provide the highest quality products in the most cost efficient way possible.
In visiting with our salespeople, Distributors, Dealers and staff, I saw the joy and excitement that they have for servicing our customers’ programs. I met and/or traveled with 6 of our Distributor/Dealers during this trip, 3 of our sales staff and many of the manufacturing staff and was blown away by their compassion, enthusiasm, and dedication to our customers and the business in general. I have learned from these individuals that we might not agree on everything, but we will always be able to come to a consensus that the most important thing we do each day is to be good stewards of the business we are blessed to have from our customers.
This trip was somewhere between my 40th - 50th trip to Australia in 22 years and I continue to try and completely immerse myself in the Australian Culture. I notice I use some of your words and slang (although without the accent) and have grown accustomed to riding as a passenger in the same seat from which I drive in the US. I still try to get into the wrong side of the car and I occasionally have a panic attack when crossing the street and looking the wrong way. And I still most definitely don’t like Vegemite. However, some of the best steak and most definitely the best lamb I have ever eaten has been consumed here. I love the beer and pie and chips on occasion. And interestingly, every time I approach Melbourne from the North by car, I can’t help but think when I see the skyline of the city in the distance that it is the City of OZ in the movie, The Wizard of OZ. The people are down to earth and filled with funny stories, good humor and amazing lives. All in all, I could live here and may have to give it some consideration, depending on who has just been elected US President at the time you are reading this newsletter.
In closing, please accept my deepest gratitude for making me feel welcome in your country each and every time I have been here. I have never witnessed ill feelings, criticisms of perceived arrogance, unjust treatment or behavior, nor anything but appreciation for the effort which has been put in to creating and developing this business which we believe brings value to your industry, your economy, your cattle and our customers’ profitability.
As the holiday season is upon us, I wish each of you a blessed Christmas and a wonderful, safe and Happy New Year!
Wes Klett, Sales Director.