Time has come to sell and move on
20 years in the meat trade
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.