Paul Quigley: His sweet run

Paul Quigley: His sweet run

Sales
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Paul Quigley has retired after 21 years as pastoral manager for S. Kidman & Co.

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AFTER 21 years with S. Kidman & Co, Paul Quigley can look back on his time as pastoral manager of the vast empire of far-flung cattle stations with a sense of satisfaction in achievement.

"I had a sweet run, good bosses and excellent properties and people to work with. I am happy with the result and to walk away on that basis", he said.

Interestingly, Paul's career had come full circle as the first job he had as a 17-year-old lad in 1968 with virtually no rural background was at Humbert River Station in the Northern Territory then owned by Charlie Schultz.

Paul grew up in Adelaide in a family of nine children and parents who ran a successful catering business.

He looks back on that time now as being somewhat similar to agriculture in the sense that irrespective of what day of the week or hour it was, if it was busy you just got in and did it.

School was initially in Adelaide run by an Order called the Salesians and later at the Rupertswood School in Victoria they also ran.

They offered an agricultural course there which appealed to Paul as he had developed a liking for the few acres his parents had in the Adelaide Hills where they ran a few cattle, pigs and poultry which supplemented the needs of the catering business.

Paul Quigley: "I had a sweet run, good bosses and excellent properties and people to work with. I am happy with the result and to walk away on that basis."

Paul Quigley: "I had a sweet run, good bosses and excellent properties and people to work with. I am happy with the result and to walk away on that basis."

When an Adelaide mate of Charlie Schultz mentioned he was looking for someone to go up there to work, it was the priests at Salesians who said they knew someone they thought would make a go of it.

In the three years he worked there, Paul said he could not have been treated better.

He remembers Charlie Schultz as a brilliant horseman and an out-and-out smart cattleman well before his time.

Charlie was careful with plant and equipment.

He did things once, did them properly and didn't waste a cent and that philosophy stuck with Paul ever since.

Paul followed Charlie when he moved down to Yankalilla but soon moved on to a position at a Simmental stud at Clarendon run by Jan and Ian Gray.

Proximity to Adelaide was a bonus as it was around this time that Paul married Fran, an Irish girl who had come out to Australia as a child but had no experience of country living.

The Clarendon location provided access to city benefits while at the same time an immersion into rural life.

What Paul learned there in the two years that followed was to prove very beneficial later on as not only did the Grays run a very good operation but they were also early adopters of ET.

A period of time as overseer with another good teacher in the form of Brian Ashby who ran stud Merinos as and poll Shorthorns at Tintinara came next before Paul took up his first position as manager at age 27.

This was at Woorabinda in Victoria's western district.

Again, another good family to work for but a mean drought combined with rock bottom cattle and sheep prices made it tough going.

When the cattle came home from agistment, Paul instigated joining the heifers at 15 months instead of the traditional two-year-old joining in order to accelerate herd renewal and the practice stuck since.

Six years on saw Paul enter a very memorable period from the perspective of both work experience and family.

He and the family moved to Dunmore, Harry M Miller's property at Manilla, NSW.

When an Adelaide mate of Charlie Schultz mentioned he was looking for someone to go up there to work, it was the priests at Salesians who said they knew someone they thought would make a go of it. In the three years he worked there, Paul said he could not have been treated better. He remembers Charlie Schultz as a brilliant horseman and an out-and-out smart cattleman well before his time.

Harry M was not long out of jail when Paul arrived but there was nothing in Miller's character that alluded to this experience; just an exceptional worker always going at 100mph in pursuit of success and excellence in their stud cattle business.

Miller's wife, Wendy, was a vet and knew the ET side of the business but he was the entrepreneurial salesman always thinking of new ways to do things.

They were already taking cattle to AgQuip when Paul first went there long before anyone else recognised the opportunity.

"We used to man the stands all day and talk to people to get names and addresses", Paul said.

Miller would very quickly identify the tyre kickers and drop them like a hot potato.

"Don't waste your time on those guys, move on", he would say.

He was similarly tough when it came to spending money; everything that was done had to be necessary.

Paul recalled "You had to have a strong argument and go in with the sums done right."

But he regarded Miller as a really decent, hardworking person and the opportunity to learn from his approach to business plus the bond between the children of the two families made it a special time.

Up to that point Paul had been fortunate to encounter family-run enterprises which in one way or another excelled in what they did.

However it was time to gain some corporate experience so the next move was to Twynam Pastoral Company.

Paul recollects old Mr Kahlbetzer telling him a story from his early beginnings.

He had been working in Western Australia when offered a job in Melbourne.

Driving across, he ran out of petrol in Adelaide and washed bottles at Halls soft drink factory to get enough money to get to Melbourne.

Having started with nothing and building the Twynam empire, it was not surprising that he had a reputation for being tough but as Paul noticed he exhibited a deep appreciation for all aspects of the business.

Paul went to Gunyerwarildi in the North Star district initially and later to Jemalong near Forbes.

In the 10 years he spent with Twynam, he upgraded the Angus herd, developed a composite breed, bred the company bulls, ran a large cropping program, a lot of cross-bred ewes for fat lambs and gained an introduction to serious irrigation.

  • Next week the Kidman years.
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