Fountain and Co Pty Ltd has had a long, varied and exciting history in auctioneering commencing in 1907 when, in that year, in Grenfell New South Wales, Mr L.J. Flanagan established his auctioneering and stock and station agency, trading as L.J. Flanagan & Co.
Around 1924, Flanagan took into partnership Mr James “Jimmy” Stein and they traded as L.J. Flanagan Stein & Co until November 1944 when Mr Clarrie Fountain, the father of present day Managing Director Tony Fountain, entered the business and they commenced trading as Stein & Fountain.
Around 1950, Clarrie Fountain bought out Mr Stein’s share and traded as a sole agency until 1963 when Tony joined the business.
In the intervening years, Clarrie built the agency to where he and it were a byword within the stock and station industry in New South Wales and Victoria. Sales of livestock, property and farming equipment were principally conducted within the Grenfell district.
In 1970, Tony, along with three other young blokes - John Buttfield and Gorman Tobin from Bathurst and Tom Ellis from Orange - founded Combined Rural Traders (CRT), now one of Australia's largest and most dynamic rural merchandise marketing groups.
In 1972, Stein & Fountain was merged with John McDonald Stockmasters, then Australia’s leading stud stock agency. Whilst selling continued in the Grenfell area, Tony also became involved in stud stock selling with an accent on horses.
In June 1975, following the 1973-75 beef cattle crash, Tony and his partners - Hugh Moffitt and The Hon Alastair Williamson - took that side of the business over and in re-establishing Stein & Fountain, commenced trading as Fountain & Co Pty Ltd.
Over the next 5 years they expanded to where Fountain & Co were conducting pedigreed cattle and horse sales in every State and Territory of Australia (as well as selling in the Grenfell and Forbes saleyards) and Tony, after obtaining his pilot's license in 1977, flew the team in their own Cessna 172 and then Rockwell Commander 114 to and from sales across the nation.
They were the leading Shorthorn auctioneers for a number of years at the (old) Sydney Royal Easter Bulls sales (then Australia's biggest) and at the Shorthorn breed fixtures at Bendigo, Dubbo (now the National Shorthorn Show and Sale) and Dalby. Tony was also on the judging circuit, judging Shorthorns up to, and including, Royal Show level.
At this time, ABC television based an episode of their award-winning TV series "A Big Country", entitled The Auctioneer, on Tony's life story.
In the early 80s, Tony (and Fountain & Co) became pioneers in the computer-based marketing of livestock when they combined with Sydney agents, Partridge and Harvey, to develop a system of selling pigs by auction based on a weight/fat measurement. This led onto the CALM cattle selling system and it in turn to AuctionPlus, now a widely used marketing force in the Australian beef industry.
In 1981, having bought out his partners, Tony moved Fountain & Co to the NSW/Victorian border city of Albury/Wodonga where he also made a move into publishing with the launch of two beef cattle magazines The Cattleman and The Drovers Journal.
With the horse and cattle auction and advertising client base now principally in northern NSW and southern Queensland, an opportunity came up in 1986 to relocate to Chinchilla in the Maranoa district of south west Queensland, and a further advance into publishing through his association with the Fuller family and their newspaper "The Chinchilla News".
Then in 1988, quite out of the blue, came an offer to move to Sydney and commence the real estate auction operations for the then Queensland and now international real estate group, Ray White, who were planning to enter that market.
The move was made and Fountain & Co Pty Ltd put the magazines on hold and as franchisee owners of Ray White Auctions (NSW), Tony took Ray White from market newcomers to market leaders in just over two years, a position they retained until he underwent heart surgery in 1966 and "retired" – or so he thought!
From 1997, Tony lived aboard Tringriz and HaCienda cruising the East Coast of Australia whilst he built Fountain & Co further through his Rainbow Chaser public speaking and the training side of the business.
In 2000, with his circumnavigational plans and dreams on hold, Tony became General Manager of the Queensland-based Ray White Rural network and in December that year, Fountain & Co again entered the livestock and stock and station agency industry again trading as Ray White Rural Rockhampton and Ray White Stud Stock, based in the Central Queensland city of Rockhampton, "the beef capital of Australia".
Here they were involved in selling in a range of areas through pedigreed and commercial cattle, pedigreed horses and real estate, to farming, residential and lifestyle properties.
In December 2002, whilst visiting Sydney at Christmas to see family, and with Ray White having slipped from number one spot back to number three in the real estate auction market, an offer "too good to refuse" was made and once again, come February 2003, Fountain & Co were engaged in the battle for market share in Sydney, Australia’s biggest real estate market.
By year's end, Tony had Ray White back to a very close second, and by December 2004 they were market leaders again, having offered and sold more property for more dollars than any other agency that year – a position that they still held in 2006.
In mid-2006, Tony retired as the Chief Auctioneer for Ray White to concentrate on building the Fountain Auction Academy. He still conducts real estate auctions as a "contract" Auctioneer.
In November 2008,after having moved base from Sydney to Bowral, the Ray White Bowral real estate franchise was purchased and the franchise created.
In December 2011, Tony sold the Ray White Bowral franchise, and whilst remaining selling property in the Southern Highlands, Fountain & Co Pty Ltd are now "back in the game" auctioneering stud stock with the accent on the Shorthorn breed where they were amongst the selling agents at the 2012 National Shorthorn Show and Sale in Dubbo in June and are involved in a number of on-stud bull sales.
Tony has also written a best selling book on the auction method of selling real estate ,The Complete Guide to Selling Real Estate by Auction which was published by Molpir Publications. The book has sold across Australia and into Canada,China, Indonesia, New Zealand, South Africa and the United States. It is used by TAFE Colleges in NSW for their auction courses. (The book has now sold out and will be available shortly as a 3-part downloadable e-book series.)
The companion volume, written especially for real estate auctions from the vendors side and entitled, no surprise, The Vendor's Guide to selling Real Estate by Auction, is also available as a downloadable e-book.
So, yet again, it is "back to the future" as Tony and Fountain & Co find themselves in auctioneering and publishing.
As Tony has commented more than once - "words are our business"!
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Fountain & Co Pty Ltd
PO BOX 897 BOWRAL NSW 2576 Australia
Ph: +61 2 4861 4600 Mobile: 0418 238 341 Fax: +61 2 4862 5483
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