Time has come to sell and move on

20 years in the meat trade

Daily Mercury - - NEWS BETTER BUSINESS - Tara Cas­sidy Tara.Cas­sidy@dai­ly­mer­cury.com.au

I’d just watch on in awe and... want to grow up like them.

AF­TER 12 years in busi­ness and 20 years in the meat trade, the owner of award win­ning butcher Mt Pleas­ant Meat Spe­cial­ists has de­cided to sell.

Craig Ste­wart be­gan as a “work ex­pe­ri­ence kid” for for­mer own­ers Adrian and San­dra Ed­wards, and even­tu­ally moved into an ap­pren­tice­ship in Novem­ber 1998.

Years later, af­ter spend­ing some time in Bris­bane, he re­turned to Mackay and be­came the cou­ple’s busi­ness part­ner. He spent the next 12 years of his life there, the last three as a sole owner.

Hav­ing loved ev­ery minute, ev­ery chal­lenge and high­light of his ca­reer, Mr Ste­wart said it was sim­ply his time to head in a dif­fer­ent di­rec­tion while re­main­ing in the meat trade.

“It’s just the right time,” he said. “I’ve been in and out of this place, in those walls for the last 20 years.

“I still want to be in the in­dus­try but head to a bit more of a cor­po­rate role, I’d love to end up in ex­port sales and mar­ket­ing, but first I’ll do a bit of con­sul­tancy work over­seas.”

Mr Ste­wart said the de­ci­sion was bit­ter-sweet. It’s taken him a year to phys­i­cally act on it and put the busi­ness on the mar­ket.

“It took me a while to ac­tu­ally be­come com­fort­able with the idea, maybe in June this year was the first time I ac­cepted it was the right thing to do for me,” he said.

“I feel like I’ve done all I can with the busi­ness now and it’s ready for a new set of hands and eyes to take over.

“Hav­ing been there, I think the most ideal kind of own­ers, hon­estly, would be a fam­ily; make it a fam­ily busi­ness, you’d have some­one to cover all ar­eas and also, be­cause you spend so much time there you get to be there with your fam­ily in­stead of away from them.”

While learn­ing all he has over the past two decades in busi­ness, Mr Ste­wart’s first glimpse into the meat world came when he was only five years old.

His grand­fa­ther, fa­ther and un­cles were all butch­ers at one point or an­other. They owned busi­nesses around Mackay and were his role mod­els from a young age. Mr Ste­wart re­mem­bers grow­ing up watch­ing his un­cles run Jamie’s Meat on Nebo Rd, think­ing to him­self, “I want to be like that when I’m older”.

“My grand­fa­ther had a butcher shop on Fer­gu­son St in the fifties and six­ties, Jim Ste­wart, and when he died my grand­mother got my fa­ther and two un­cles to run it,” he said.

“Then my other un­cles went on to open Jamie’s Meat and we’d be in there most week­ends and the place was just packed, this was be­fore su­per­mar­kets and meat was big busi­ness.

“You’d go in and it would be lay­ers deep of peo­ple, and they were work­ing but it was al­most like they were en­ter­tain­ing too. They were smart, charis­matic, they knew what they were talk­ing about and I’d just watch on in awe and be like I want to grow up like them.”

Now de­cid­ing to hang up his butcher’s boots and apron, Mr Ste­wart said look­ing back there was a lot about the busi­ness he would miss.

“It’s an in­ter­est­ing job where you get to meet a lot of great peo­ple and watch this whole evo­lu­tion hap­pen in front of you. You see kids grow up, peo­ple get­ting old who have been com­ing in at the same time, same day the last 20 years,” he said.

“There’s been ups and downs, the eco­nomic down­turn changed busi­ness, lit­er­ally overnight, but it has picked back up. I’ve re­ally seen it all in my years here but it was all worth it and I’m go­ing to re­ally miss the cus­tomers and re­la­tion­ships that I’ve built over the years the most.”

Mr Ste­wart said the butcher shop has taught him ev­ery­thing he knows to date, about busi­ness, life and more than he could ever learn “from a text book in school”.

He wants to pass on that knowl­edge, pas­sion and op­por­tu­nity to some­one else and hopes they will make have as much suc­cess as he has over the years.


Craig Ste­wart, owner of Mt Pleas­ant Meat Spe­cial­ists, is sell­ing his award-win­ning busi­ness.


LEFT: Craig Ste­wart with Steve Chap­man of Slade Point Meat Spe­cial­ists.

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