Alan Hutcheon, Auctions Operations Manager, Aberdeen and Northern Marts
 
What is your role at ANM Group?
In summer 2015, I received the senior promotion to Auctions Operations Manager which involves managing our team of livestock auctioneers and canvassers, facilitating the canvassing process with our cattle and sheep managers and maintaining strong connections with our customers.  My new position also includes a more strategic role to develop and grow the Marts division and seek out new business opportunities.
 
How long have you worked at the ANM Group?
I have worked with the ANM Group for 36 years since I started as an office junior and clerking for the auctioneers on the 16th May 1979.  In 1983, I began carrying out valuations on plant, machinery, furniture and antiques.  I was then promoted to auctioneer at the Insch market in 1986 selling prime sheep then within a year I was selling prime cattle and store cattle and canvassing livestock in the Insch and Huntly areas.  In 1990, I moved to Thainstone and was responsible for prime cattle sales on a Monday and the development of the quarterly Saturday plant, machinery and equipment sales.  In 1992, I became the Prime and Over Thirty Months Cattle (OTM) Manager and was also made part of the management team.  In 2000, I was promoted to Deputy General Manager responsible for co-ordinating the auctioneers and auctions sales at Thainstone and liaising with our Caithness Livestock Centre in Quoybrae.  From 2001 onwards, I was also in charge of the vehicle auctions for the new weekly date of Thursday and developed stronger links with the Group’s Thainstone Specialist Auctions (TSA) division.   
 
Why did you choose ANM Group?
I am from a farming background and my father sold prime cattle through the auction ring in Aberdeen.  I used to attend the sales with him and one day a family friend highlighted the job opportunity to us and I applied - the rest is history.

What projects do you/will you work on?
On the livestock side, I have been involved in developing our programme of renowned events (the Aberdeen Christmas Classic, September Spectacular, Spring Show and Young Farmers Overwintering competition) from their inception to what they are today.  This involves a real team effort and months of preparation to liaise with staff, customers, sponsors, auctioneers, supporters and breed societies to maximise these events.
 
Other major project work includes working alongside Mark Barrack and the TSA team to deliver auction support and source items for our prestigious Saturday sales.  The auction, now held eight times a year, is an extremely large operation with ten auctioneers at the helm and together we aim to maximise the success of the day.
 
What skills do you need?
Part of my job for over 15 years has been to mentor and support our professional team of auctioneers.  It is essential for new and young auctioneers to learn and develop from the wealth of experience and knowledge of the Group’s long- standing team members.  Communications skills are really important; an auctioneer needs to be well-trusted and respected in the industry to deal with a range of new and existing buyers and sellers.  We have a hard-working team across the board; an auctioneer is only as good as the people alongside them. 
 
What does your average day entail?
Today, I arrived at work at 8am and started networking with buyers prior to the prime and OTM cattle sale – I then conducted the auction before returning to the office to phone customers with prices.  I liaised with the marts office and yard managers regarding staff management for upcoming auctions before meeting with our Executive Director to discuss any matters arising from our busy Friday sale. 
 
On sale days, I work with the marts office to check sales reports and also work with other members of the team on weekly adverts, press releases and catalogues.  I have regular meetings with key staff to make plans for upcoming auctions.  On a major show and sale day, I would liaise with the auction staff and judges to ensure the smooth running of the show.  I would then liaise with sponsors, photographers, the media and our communications manager to ensure the event receives maximum publicity on the day.
 
What are your current challenges?
Falling livestock numbers is an obvious concern, so we endeavour to really look after our existing customers whilst continuing to look for new business.  With today’s technology we now have live internet bidding at all of our major livestock events and plan to expand on this a cross the board.
 
What are your long-term plans?
Our long-term plans are to continue to keep the Group at the forefront as a leading farming co-operative.  This includes maximising the use of our internet bidding function at auctions and use of our websites and social media to ensure we are communicating with our customers through all avenues.  We plan to further develop our programme of events by always looking for new opportunities to build on their success.  Furthermore, to safeguard the business for future generations, we will provide additional support and mentoring to our team of young auctioneers. 
 
Are there any travel opportunities?
Networking is essential in our line of work; I attend a number of annual farming events such as the Highland Show, Border Expro, Summer Shows and LiveScot as well as young farmer events.  I also like to visit our Caithness Livestock Centre as much as possible including anniversary and Christmas shows and sales to maintain a vital link with Quoybrae.
 
What would you say to someone looking to join ANM Group?
I have had a long and happy career with the Group and have always felt part of the team.  It has had its fair share of challenges but the characters and people you meet are second to none.  I have received great support from my fellow colleagues and customers over the years.
 
What about hobbies/interests?
I enjoy going for long walks with my partner and have also enjoyed playing badminton with Group colleagues every week for a number of years.  As an avid Don’s supporters - I am also revelling in Aberdeen’s latest success!