ALPA Recognition for industry stalwart - David Corcoran
Article I Lucy Ziesemer
Photography I Dean Kinlyside
As it turns out, receiving life membership for time and commitment to a representative body does not equal exemption from mundane chores such as taking rubbish to the tip.
Delta Livestock and Property General Manager, David Corcoran, knows this all too well as that’s exactly where we found him when we tracked him down to discuss his recent and very well deserved ALPA accolade.
After contributing eight years to the ALPA (Australian Livestock and Property Agents) national board and spending four years as chairman, David was recently honoured with life membership to the esteemed group.
His work as a livestock and property agent began in 1993 when he was offered the opportunity to work as a specialist wool salesman for Elders.
Boorowa born and bred, David jumped at the opportunity to work in his local region and, given his affinity with Merino sheep thanks to his family’s mixed farming operation, he flourished in the role.
David recalls business was solid, with the region around Young boasting one of the largest Merino sheep flocks in New South Wales at the time.
“The wool industry was very strong in the early 1990s. There was always ups and downs as there always will be, but wool was a key product in those days,” David says.
David enjoyed the wool game, however, when the chance appeared to step into an Elders branch manager role at Young in 1996, he couldn’t let it slip.
“Wool was very one dimensional in that I was dealing with just one product, whereas the branch manager role took me into livestock, which was broader and more interesting,” he says.
“I also gained experience dealing with real estate and was responsible for the branch overall. It was a successful business and I was there until 2006.”
After 10 years as branch manager, David surely had the nuts and bolts in order and no doubt well oiled, so it was no surprise he was approached for a similar role with then up and coming agency – Delta Agribusiness.
“Delta’s key creators, Gerard Hines and Chris Duff, knocked on my door in 2006 and asked if I would be interested in running their livestock business,” he says.
“They were more or less starting from scratch and I thought to myself, these blokes could be onto something pretty special here and I knew I’d regret it if I didn’t give it a crack.”
Since those early days, David has played a crucial role in taking the livestock side of Delta from strength-to-strength, and no less can be said for his years working with ALPA.
On receiving ALPA life membership, David said he was sincerely surprised. “There is a history of good people that have life membership and to be Chairman and have a photo on the wall in the office is a great honour, but to be made a life member is very humbling and above what I deserve.”
ALPA acts as a lobbyist group for agents and has a place on a number of industry bodies including but not limited to the National Farmers’ Federation (NFF) and the Australian Meat Industry Council.
“A lot of people think agency is a thing of the past and they question how agents can add value to producers’ businesses,” David remarks.
“ALPA itself is involved in policy making and the direction these policies take and these things ultimately effect agriculture more broadly.”
David believes agency needs to challenge itself and continue to evolve to meet modern day expectations in order to remain relevant in the agricultural sphere.
“People need solutions in a timely manner that suit their enterprise and their geographic location,” he believes. “Online marketing is a huge factor of our business model now. Some agents may resist coming on board with the online world but they may find they get left behind.
“Good agents these days play a 50/50 role of consultant and marketer. Agents that are progressive, quick on their feet, involved and embrace new ways will always have a place in the industry, in my opinion.”
Adaptability is a learned skill for those operating in the livestock realm, with red meat experiencing significant growth on the world market as niche cuts and a growing product range become in-demand on consumers’ shopping lists.
David believes quality and consistency held the Australian livestock industry in good stead and could not afford to be taken for granted, from anyone’s perspective.
“More and more Australian producers are now focussing on efficient production through pasture development and winter crop production across all landscapes in their own way compared to 30 years ago,” he says.
“Once upon a time you could sell anything to anyone but these days we offer a specific product that’s produced under the right conditions- animal welfare is huge nowadays.”
He believes this business model needs protection at all stages from on-farm through to transport, marketing and delivery, and beyond.
“That’s the industry we’re involved with and it’s exciting because it progresses all the time. The next generation of producers coming through are doing amazing things and making huge advances in both production and the basic operation of their enterprises. They’re the sort of people leading the way and our job as agents has got to be to deliver options that add value to what they’re already achieving.”
While he is now retired from the role, David reflected on his years on the ALPA board and as Chairman with great fondness. “I dealt with really good people across my time with ALPA and felt the work we were doing was truly valued,” he says.
“The same goes for my role with Delta – you develop close friendships and bonds with the people you’re involved with. As agents, if we can say a key part of our role is creating strong relationships along the supply chain, that’s something worth nurturing.”