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Tim Black thinks the future of New Zealand wool could be fantastic.
"The price of wool is so cheap and below production value and therefore a wantless product at the moment. We could have an incredible future with it if we educate people well.”
Mr Black grew up at Tai Tapu, just outside of Christchurch, leaving Christ’s College to work as a general farmhand at Levels at 18.
He attended Lincoln University to study for a bachelor of commerce in agriculture degree, finding a job back in South Canterbury at PGG in the mailroom licking stamps.
"I enjoyed coming to South Canterbury. I admittedly did not know too many people down here [but I] made friends pretty quickly. It was good fun."
He was keen to be a junior stock agent — his father had been one — and knew he wanted to progress to becoming an auctioneer, knowing he must start at the bottom and work his way up.
“I found that I could read wool quite easily and Pyne Gould Guinness [PGG] sent me back to Lincoln University for a wool course, where I had previously struggled with study. Was posted down to Timaru in 1998 after a wool rep opportunity came up and have remained ever since.”
Black was passionate about Timaru and the central South Island.
“I used to love hunting, shooting, fishing and diving ... The location made it easy access."
After working for PGG for 13 years, he saw the wool industry was changing and company mergers becoming commonplace.
"When PGG merged with Wrightson, our fine wool business had to be relinquished to New Zealand Merino. That was the majority of my work down here but I was fortunate enough to be offered a job at Elders New Zealand being their merino specialist."
He then found an opportunity to go out on his own, joining a Timaru business doing the reclass for New Zealand Merino.
"I gave Gary Clarke, the boss, a bit of an ultimatum — would he be interested in selling? So I bought that business that I have now.”
Black and Associates primarily do reclass and interlock work for NZ Merino, which is putting similar types of wool from different properties into saleable packages.
They sort incoming part bales and class them into different grades for purchase.
Black had an entrepreneurial streak with his hands in wool, hospitality and retail.
He owns Hector Black’s lounge bar in Timaru, aptly named after his companion Jack Russell, who died a few years ago.
A taxidermied Hector is the centrepiece in the taproom.
Mr Black and wife Brooke also own gift shop Tuesday and neighbouring Black & Co, stocking a range of designer and eclectic clothing.
His bar represents his background in agriculture, with quirky items hung on walls and near well-placed sofas.
“I would like to grow with hospitality and have had a great time with the bar. With wool I would like to get into education and teach people benefits for the environment and economy," he said.
"If we could get people to understand it and use it again I would love to do that. The wool business has greatly affected my life and it hurts to see it not operating as it once did. My plan is to keep doing what I am doing, trotting along and hopefully get some young people passionate about it again.”