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Now a 50-year-old sheep and beef agent for PGG Wrightson, he is achieving a lifelong ambition and exceeding his own expectations. A familiar face around South Canterbury, Mr Sands attends the Temuka saleyard every Monday and second Thursday alongside an auctioneering role.
He attributed his love for animals to time spent with them in his youth while visiting his uncle during school holidays.
"My uncle John was a stock agent for Dalgety's which gave some insight into what the role of a stock agent was and how to do it. I have been lucky."
As a 16-year-old he left Rangiora High School for a position in the Pyne Gould Guinness mail room.
"I was completing a ‘career research’ project at Amberley Primary and chose a livestock representative, which is quite funny looking back," he said, laughing.
"Leaving school and doing my time in the mail room, I was moved to accounts and then went on to become a junior stock agent. It all took time."
He transferred to Darfield in 1989 as a trainee agent and then on to Geraldine in 1991, where he has remained since.
"Geraldine and South Canterbury are great places to live and a great place to be an agent.
"We are fortunate to have an excellent community and great landscape. I would not have stayed in my role without the help of those around me."
He believed a stock agent was a vital link between farmer and market.
"Whether it be local markets or private treaties, we act on behalf of the farmer as crucial members of the farming sector. To make sure they are kept up-to-date with trends and current values.
"Every day is different; there are no two the same. You are getting out there and dealing with different clientele and clusters of stock. Basically, it is up to you how you run your business. While you have a boss, you are essentially your own," he said.
On August 16, Mr Sands will have been involved in the company for 34 years. He attributed his long success to a strong team and clientele.
"I feel very lucky to have great people around me. It takes a number of years to gain trust and respect, a crucial element to the job."
The biggest change he had seen was the development of technology.
"It is the next generation of farmers that have adapted pretty well to technological change with apps and data almost immediately available in the field. When I started auctioneering at the pig pens at the Addington saleyards, the game was very different."
Those looking to become involved as a stock agent needed to know it was a pivotal role within the agriculture sector.
"Work hard, show respect and push through the average days. Climbing the ladder is a progressional thing. Junior, to intermediate, a senior agent. It is a natural progression."