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An Early introduction to Business and Economics.

John Clothier


Going to the livestock markets with Dad and Jim from about five years old was my earliest recollection of my introduction to the business side of our farming and cheesemaking business.

You may be thinking how on earth would that help anyone to improve their understanding of what makes the world of business tick. I can assure you that there are few better lessons in the forces of economic reality, than watching a community of traders and farmers, who were not particularly well off, go about buying from and selling to each other.

The livestock market auctions then were so reflective of the supply and demand theory, and a few extra buyers or sellers on the day would move the market quite distinctively in one direction or the other.

I was immediately fascinated by the way that markets worked and quickly became so interested in what made things tick that I could not wait to visit the following week.

The hour or so before the auctions started the buyers and sellers would mingle with each other and they new well before the sales began, whether or not “trade” as they used to call it, would be up or down for that day. How did they know?

Because if there were more sellers than buyers “trade” would be down on the day, and vice-versa more buyers than sellers, would mean that the demand from more buyers would move the the market in the opposite direction.

As I say I was absolutely fascinated by the theory, and in my early years wanted to be an auctioneer so that I could be in the thick of this daily market excitement more often!

There were livestock markets every weekday somewhere locally and some farmers and dealers were in the markets every day of the week to buy or sell, and match their skill of trading against the laws of market supply and demand.

My father and Jim were excellent judges of local supply and demand for pigs and cattle particularly, and bought and sold sometimes on two or three days of each week in the local markets. Why were these markets so important to farmers? Because that other than doing a private deal on the farm, this was the only method that farmers and dealers could trade with each other.

Without wishing to sound too arrogant, I became quite good at spotting the market trends and from about the age of ten or so, I was allowed to bid in the auctions sometimes to buy or sell the cattle or pigs that we were trading.

All of this experience with Father and Jim gave me such a good grounding in the economic forces of trading anything in business, that I have been able to use those skills so many times during my business career.

I am convinced that had I not acquired those marketing skills at such an early age, that I would never have been able to run a business as successfully as we have as a family. I have always tried to pass that experience on to the next generation of Clothiers which will help them to manage in a much more challenging global market place, than the first three Clothier’s had to deal with!

In later years as the business expanded and we traded large quantities of pigs and cheese to a much larger market, I learnt that those basic market theories never really change and were just scaled up as the market place got larger.

The skills that I had acquired as a lad have served me so well, and being able to spot market trends early in the curve is priceless in any trading business, and as I said earlier, as the world expands into a global market, then skills like the ones that I have described are even more important in business decision making.



July 2020


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