WA’s wool handling service has spun into a new state-of-the-art age with the opening of Elders Wool in Rockingham, the 185-year-old company’s newest venture for supplying the global market. WA Agriculture Minister Jackie Jarvis had a touch-and-feel of the 19 micron Glen Devon Farm fleece sample, produced by the Doudle family of Darkan, before declaring the brand-new facility open at the official on-site launch on February 1. “Wool is a very highly valued export for WA and a massive contributor to the State’s economy. I would like to congratulate Elders for their significant investment in this industry,” Ms Jarvis said. “WA produces some of the best wool in the world: the State’s exports were about $600 million last year. “We need more young people to understand how wool is sustainable versus synthetics. I encourage people to wear more natural fibres like wool and cotton.” The event, also attended by Rockingham MP Magenta Marshall, brought together about 70 producers, buyers, suppliers and Elders staff. Elders general manager agency Dave Adamson said the wool-handling facility would build on the company’s weekly wool auction offering, providing a full end-to-end service that aimed to improve efficiency and outcomes for its woolgrower clients. “This wool-handling facility was designed to get wool to market more efficiently and faster, particularly to our international buyers,” he said. “It’s exciting to be bringing wool handling back into the Elders’ centralised business model that supports a low-cost service network. “Today is a very exciting milestone for Elders; 185 years ago, the company first began buying and financing wool (and) we honour that legacy as we continue to adapt and innovate.” Mr Adamson said the Rockingham fit-out was designed to offer industry-leading innovations and improved traceability and sustainability outcomes across the wool supply chain. “Ideally located on the doorstep of the port of Fremantle, the Rockingham centre combines wool sales activities with storage and handling operations,” he said. “It was designed to provide a unique experience for visitors. It brings together growers, buyers and Elders staff to connect and see the journey and results of their wool post farm gate.” “It is hoped that the Rockingham centre will be a welcomed addition to the WA wool industry.” Mr Adamson said since operations began last July there had been overwhelming industry support for Elders’ investment. He said the Rockingham site was one of two new centres in the Elders wool handling network, the other situated in Ravenhall, Victoria. “Elders has invested $25 million in the wool-handling business — the largest single investment in wool handling this century, signifying a long-term commitment to the Australian wool industry,” he said. “We are very proud to be making this investment, which aims to help our clients deliver the best, sustainable wool supply globally.” Elders WA State livestock and wool manager Dean Hubbard said Elders’ team members were now responsible throughout the wool process, from the paddock to the container. “Our sheep and wool industry has experienced significant disruptions over the past two years,” he said. “I am pleased to note that today’s sheep and wool narrative is turning for the better — partly contributed to today’s gathering.” Elders WA wool operations manager Ryan Fletcher said the Rockingham wool handling facility’s core line, known as the “big red” machine, was custom made and represented the best in the world. “It processes bales quickly and efficiently. We have modern technology, and I am proud to be part of it,” he said.