As the last of the pens were filled recently at the new Palm Grove feedlot in NSW, Jack Sher succinctly captures the sentiment of the last four years in bringing Australia’s first dedicated Wagyu feedlot to be built from the ground up in a single word – momentous.
For Jack, it also signalled a complete career switch and a move that brought him 3,500 kilometres back to his family roots.
Taking the long way round
With parents Nick and Vicki Sher founding Sher Wagyu in 1991, Jack’s love for producing quality Wagyu beef is well-ingrained, but his career initially took him in a different direction.
Having earned a Masters of Chemical Engineering, Jack spent a few years in Western Australia working on a multi-decade, natural gas project. But in 2021, the allure of the family business grew stronger and an exciting opportunity came knocking. Today, he’s just wrapped up two years as Feedlot Manager at Palm Grove and stepped into the position of Feedlot and Project Director.
Jack shared the lessons, challenges, and triumphs in bringing the state-of-the-art, 8000-head feedlot in Finley, NSW to fruition.
Leadership isn’t for the faint of heart
“When I look back over the last two years and what we’ve done in taking what was a greenfield site and brownfield commodity area, it’s a hugely proud achievement but I don’t think I realised what I was getting myself into I guess,” Jack laughed.
“There were so many aspects that needed to be learned to make it a success.”
And at the top of the list?
“Managing staff and how to get the best out of our people has been my biggest lesson,” Jack reflected.
“I’ve managed contractors but this was my first experience in direct reports, so learning how to keep staff engaged and the logistics of managing rosters, holidays, and everything in between so that it all runs smoothly has been challenging but really important.”
Walk the talk
Like the best leaders, Jack is proud to lead by example.
“There’s no job here that anyone can say ‘management won’t go and do that’ and I’ve tried to make that very clear from the beginning. I’ve done every job when it needs doing,” Jack said.
“I feel strongly that staff know that what I’m asking is achievable and that I’ll do it but we need, and really value, their help in getting it done.”
Never stop learning
Sher Wagyu exports to over 14 countries and has a loyal customer base across Australia. It’s known and loved by Wagyu connoisseurs globally, but Jack is passionate about continually striving to improve every aspect of their beef production.
From completing courses on managerial improvement to antimicrobial stewardship in feedlots, Jack shares his most valuable piece of advice for others entering the lot feeding industry.
“Keep open to new ideas because it doesn’t matter what title you’ve got or what you’ve done, you’ve always got to be open to feedback or new ways of doing things.”