Popular Masterton agent Mike Wiley has retired after 52 years in the livestock business. PHOTO/MARCUS ANSELM
If the secret of being a great livestock agent is relationships, Mike Wiley is peerless in his field, said his clients and colleagues.
Wiley, 69, of Masterton, finished up with PGG Wrightson this month after 52 years in the business.
“I have enjoyed every moment of being a stock agent in my 47 years on the road servicing my clients, some of them from day one, two generations.
“Now the third generation are about to take over and I think it is time to hang up my boots.”
In that time, Wiley has seen both Wairarapa and his industry change.
He said technology had changed the business.
“Technology is taking over, with online selling in of livestock, texting and emailing.
“Most farmers have scales now weighing their lambs and cattle before selling.
“Twenty-five years ago, we hand-drafted lambs going to the works. If the farmer wanted to average a certain price, we had to draft that to that store or fat.
“You become pretty good at estimating their weight. Now with scales, it’s done for you.”
Wiley joined the National Mortgage Stock and Station Co. from school in 1967.
He went on the road in 1972, moving from Martinborough to Masterton in 1977.
He joined Neil Cobb as an independent agent in 1986.
The Wairarapa Livestock company started up 12 years later, a team of four independent agents.
PGG Wrightson bought out Wairarapa Livestock in 2008.
Blairlogie farmer Bill Morrison has known Wiley for over 40 years.
Morrison said Wiley’s “integrity and knowledge of Wairarapa” and being “a people’s person” was the secret of his success.
“He knows everyone, he follows up on the stock that I sell to make sure the clients are happy.
“He’s a people’s person really. It’s that personal contact from buyers and sellers really which is the most important thing.”
Dermot Fitzgerald was Wiley’s predecessor as livestock manager at PGG Wrightson, Masterton.
Fitzgerald said Wiley is “the sort of fella every agent or every livestock agent should aspire to be”.
“I haven’t heard anyone say a bad word about Mike. He gave outstanding service to his clients.
“He became a personal friend to me, to many, and his clients as well. That’s always a good judgement of a guy.”
Fitzgerald said Wiley had experienced the tough times, such as drought periods.
“But Mike was a guy who rose to all those occasions and I think he surpassed everybody else.
“There won’t be another Mike Wiley, because he was just one of those special guys.”
His old colleagues said it was likely he would still be a fixture at the sale yards.
A Gladstone boy, his father was a gardener.
The Lansdowne home he shares with Ruth, his wife, shows these skills were handed down.
But he now has more time to keep his garden blooming and to visit Ngawi for a catch of blue cod.
“I will miss the personal contact with my clients and their families,” Wiley said.
“I have been very lucky in having a great wife supporting me in my job and really bringing up our family on her own.
“Away early in the morning drafting in the season and then on the phone at night.
“She was the backbone.
“Now I’ll have to talk to her at night. Perhaps even share the remote!”