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updated: 5/12/2014 10:33 AM

Martins learn about wool from pros in New Zealand

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  • Rae Martin, co-owner of Naperville-based Russell Martin Carpet & Rugs, watches some Alpacas during a recent trip to New Zealand with her husband Dave Martin. They visited some farms to see how wool is sheered, gathered and selected for wool that goes into rugs and carpets sold in the United States.

      Rae Martin, co-owner of Naperville-based Russell Martin Carpet & Rugs, watches some Alpacas during a recent trip to New Zealand with her husband Dave Martin. They visited some farms to see how wool is sheered, gathered and selected for wool that goes into rugs and carpets sold in the United States.
    COURTESY OF RUSSELL MARTIN CARPET & RUGS

  • Dave Martin, owner of Naperville-based Russell Martin Carpet & Rugs, watches as Phil Bremner shears a sheep at the Burnham, Canterbury woolshed in New Zealand.

      Dave Martin, owner of Naperville-based Russell Martin Carpet & Rugs, watches as Phil Bremner shears a sheep at the Burnham, Canterbury woolshed in New Zealand.
    COURTESY OF RUSSELL MARTIN CARPET & RUGS

  • Dave Martin, at left, owner of Naperville-based Russell Martin Carpet & Rugs, talks with Ross Townshend (in stripe shirt), CEO of Wools of NewZealand, at his farm in New Zealand.

      Dave Martin, at left, owner of Naperville-based Russell Martin Carpet & Rugs, talks with Ross Townshend (in stripe shirt), CEO of Wools of NewZealand, at his farm in New Zealand.
    COURTESY OF RUSSELL MARTIN CARPET & RUGS

  • Mark Santacrose

      Mark Santacrose

  • Mark D. Schwabero

      Mark D. Schwabero

  • Katherine Konkel

      Katherine Konkel

  • Peter Hahn

      Peter Hahn

 
 

Rae Martin, co-owner of Russell Martin Carpet & Rugs in Naperville, has always wanted to go to Scotland. Her husband and co-owner, Dave Martin, has always wanted to go to New Zealand. But with a sore knee, she put off any trips for a while until Dave said he would take her on a trip of a lifetime after her knee replacement.

She had the surgery and Dave surprised her with tickets -- to New Zealand.

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"At first I had to grow into the idea," Rae admitted with a laugh. "But once we got there, it was the most beautiful place on earth."

After a 13-hour flight, they took a few days to adjust and then they began their monthlong journey mixing fun with business, a firsthand look at the wool industry.

The couple visited three sheep farms and were hosted for a few days by Ross Townshend, CEO of Wools of New Zealand. It helped them to learn how sheep are raised, sheared and how the wool is selected for carpets.

"The CEO had his own helicopter and asked us if we wanted a ride," she said. "He took us for a ride over Hamilton and we saw the countryside and we also noticed a lot of people here had their own planes and helicopters to get around."

In fact, she said Townshend was planning a trip to Shanghai in a few days.

"They travel a lot. It's exhausting," she said.

Then Dave was given the chance to watch how sheep are shorn and was invited to do some.

Dave took the shears in hand and started on one leg of a sheep. The rest was done by a professional hand on the farm.

"The sheep survived," Rae laughed.

About 300 to 400 could be shorn in a day, she said.

They hold the sheep back toward the worker, and once off their feet, the sheep go limp and can be quickly shorn, she said.

"The sheep really don't like to be shorn," Rae said. "But it takes about 3 minutes and when they're done, it's like they hop, like they have springs on their feet,"

While their business portion of the trip lasted a few days, the memories will last a lifetime.

"I'm still trying to convince him we're not moving there," Rae said. "We have three grandchildren here, we're not moving there."

But she' still waiting for tickets to Scotland.

Author, author for new books

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FastTrack

Mark D. Schwabero of Naperville is the new president and chief operating officer, reporting to Dustan E. McCoy, chairman and CEO at Brunswick Corp. in Lake Forest. Schwabero, most recently president of Brunswick's Mercury Marine engine segment, will be succeeded by John C. Pfeifer, who had been vice president of global operations for Mercury Marine.

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•There's more to business than just the bottom line. We want to tell you about the people that make business work. Send news about people in business to akukec@dailyherald.com. Follow Anna Marie Kukec on LinkedIn and Facebook and as AMKukec on Twitter.

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