CHRIS NORRIS SIGNS OFF FROM ELITE
Founder of the online platform Elite Livestock Auctions (Elite), Chris Norris, will sign off from the business after eight years and 500,000km to shift focus to further developing his online business focused on the machinery and equipment market.
Chris built Elite to become one of Australia’s leading online auction platforms, broadcasting cattle, sheep and stud stock sales with live video and sound, allowing buyers and sellers to connect in real- time.
Despite being at the forefront of an online revolution when he founded the company in 2014, Chris said he “could barely turn on the computer” at the time.
“When Elite started, we needed IT gurus to be at the auctions with us to help with the technology,” he said.
“No-one in Australia had ever broadcast a saleyard auction from selling pens with live video of the cattle and live audio from the auctioneer.
“But we gained confidence in it pretty quickly and completed 53 successful auctions in the first year with just me on the ground.
“I wasn’t reinventing the wheel – I could see how well this technology was working overseas and in other industries and modified the systems to apply to livestock auctions.”
Like most new technologies, uptake was not immediate, but with transformation and acceptance it is now expected at all credible sales.
“A lot of people told me the industry wasn’t ready, and that internet connectivity in the bush couldn’t handle it.
“I looked at the big picture – I told them it was getting better, and that people wanted to be connected to the live auctions and see what they were bidding on to get a genuine feel for the market.
“They don’t want to read about sale results a week after the fact, they want to participate in them no matter where they are in Australia or the world.
“At one of our early auctions, we sold 700 head to an online bidder in regional New South Wales whose client was in Greece at the time – both watching and bidding on the sale live.
“I was fortunate to have a lot of connections in the livestock sector from my time at an ALPA (Australian Livestock and Property Agents Association) young auctioneer school, and working with the great team at GDL, so when I came back to the livestock industry, they trusted me and were willing to give the platform a go.
“We’ve definitely had our challenges – mainly with telecommunications services – but that’s been probably the biggest area of development too. It’s becoming easier and cheaper for people in rural areas to access technologies, that has enabled the platform to be so successful.
“It’s created a lot more transparency by exposing the market to everyone. Gone are the days you’d hear ‘gee those cattle were cheap’ – online platforms have helped to put a floor in the market and eliminated sales that fall through the cracks.”
In 2017, Elite was purchased by privately Australian-owned AAM Investment Group (AAM) and has since formed part of the StockLive Group (StockLive).
Today, StockLive delivers services to all sectors of the livestock and agricultural industry from the largest commercial sales, equine and working dogs’ auctions, while Elite, which focuses on the seedstock industry, has expanded its operations to all states.
Libby Tyrell (Hufton) has been the operations manager of StockLive since January 2020, working with Chris and the broader team to achieve significant growth and to expand the company’s service offerings including growing and enhancing its technology.
Libby said in 2022, StockLive simulcast nearly 900 auctions Australia-wide in 2022 with that number set to expand in the coming year.
“Chris is a performer on sale day, the ultimate showman, and someone I have learnt a lot from, and I sincerely thank him for his continued support, determination, and ongoing passion for enhancing live simulcast sales,” Libby said.
“Chris has changed an industry in just eight years and should be extremely proud of his achievements in the livestock technology space. It just goes to show what one person with genuine passion and knowledge can do in this industry.”
Chris will now turn his attention to his new venture, the ‘Auction Exchange’, an online service provider tailored to the machinery and equipment market.
“The markets are booming and there’s a lot of demand out there for second-hand machinery,” he said.
“I’m leaving Elite on a high. My last sale had over $1 million worth of stock transacted online, and when I got on the plane afterwards, I said to myself ‘it’s time’. I am leaving the business in very capable hands; the team is stronger than ever and extremely passionate about providing a quality service to our current customers and new clients. Tammie Robinson will do a fantastic job servicing Elite’s clients as she has a genuine passion and unique knowledge of what we do and why we do it.
“As technology has enhanced, the team has introduced new features including the ability to sell stud stock through a selling ring complex providing multiple camera angles and shots to ensure buyers have an all-encompassing view of livestock, enhancing their online experience.
“The ability to provide a genuine real time, live, experience is why the platform outshines alternate service offerings in the industry today.
“Clients often refer to the unique ability to buy online with a real-time experience , including the superior audio, live video as the reasons to keep returning to Elite and StockLive.
“I want to thank everyone who’s utilised our services over the years, particularly those in the early days who were taking a bit of a punt.
“AAM is a business which is passionate about improving the agricultural industry and invests a lot into agriculture around Australia, so they’ll definitely take the business to new levels.”