During the 1990’s there was much commotion in the livestock industry; entire branches worth of agents walked out of their jobs due to unsatisfactory working conditions. However, many of these agents continued independently buying and selling livestock in the areas where they had been working and, as such, were able to retain many of their clients.
It was during this period that the idea for Combined Independent Agents Association (later abbreviated to CIAA) came into being.
Tom Wardle called Jeff Emms one night after looking at the numbers of the day’s market, only to see that the independent agents were buying over 60% of the stock on offer – an occurrence which would have been unheard of in the years before. Together, they were able to form the concept of CIAA – a company owned and run by its own agents, rather than by a large corporation. There was much support from their fellow agents, as this was seen as an opportunity to make a positive change within the industry. But as word got around, many critics forecasted the early demise of CIAA. The concept was simply far too bizarre to some.
However, in 1992, less than a year after the first meeting of agents, CIAA was a legitimate company and ready to attend their first sale. This sale set the scene for the scene for the future of CIAA as a successful company, as there were over 650 head of cattle sold.
Now, over two decades later, CIAA remains a force in the livestock industry. Many of the original agents, including Tom Wardle and Jeff Emms, remain to this day, but many more have been added across South Australia.
The recent sale of CIAA to Platinum Operations has only brought good things – a new beginning of sorts. As was promised during the sale, nothing has changed within the company.
The future of CIAA remains in the hands of the independent agents, as it always was.