Ideal Foods founder to be inducted into business hall
‘Be honest with people and tell them the way it is’
This is the second in a series of four stories highlighting this year’s inductees to the Cape Breton Business and Philanthropy Hall of Fame
When Joe Braunmiller is asked the secret to building a successful business in Cape Breton he has a straightforward answer.
“Be honest with people and tell them the way it is,” the founder of Ideal Foods said. “Don’t tell them one thing and then there’s no truth in it. Like the fella says, ‘Don’t BS me, tell me the truth,’ that’s the way I always found was the best way to go with people.”
Delivering a good product for good value to customers is how to build trust with your market, he said.
“When you’re small, that’s the main thing you’ve got to work on, is quality and good work, if you say you’re going to get something to them by such a date, do your best to get it there.”
On May 23, Braunmiller will be inducted into the Cape Breton Business and Philanthropy Hall of Fame to recognize his business and community involvement.
Where Master Meats is currently located on Johnston Street in Sydney, Braunmiller’s father used to operate Ideal Sausage, where he made sausage and pepperoni and other items. When his father’s health began failing, Braunmiller, who was in his mid-20s and in the American air force at the time, was asked to return home to offer some assistance.
While he describes himself at the time as being a bit of a “roamer,” Braunmiller made the decision to return to Cape Breton.
“I came home and I ended up buying out his partner and the two of us got into business,” he said. “Later on, I got out of the manufacturing end of it and got more into distribution.”
Braunmiller ended up providing distribution for Schneider Foods and some other companies. The work mostly involved purchasing food products from larger companies and reselling it locally around Cape Breton. He later went into business as a minor partner with a Halifax-based friend in a similar venture until his partner eventually sold out to IGA.
Braunmiller said there have been a lot of changes in the food service industry since he first got involved in it.
“Today, there’s hardly any small fellows around, it’s all just the big guys left,” he said.
Braunmiller and his late wife Connie — who he said played a big role in the business looking after the bookkeeping — had three children, Darlene, Brenda and Darryl.
At the business’s peak, Ideal Foods employed about 14 people. He has also contributed to his community, through roles such as serving as president of the Kinsmen.
Braunmiller retired from business in the early 1990s.
“Playing a little golf, helping out around the neighbours, friends,” he said, when asked how he now spends his retirement years.
When asked to reflect back on memories from his years his business, Braunmiller recalled the early days of another successful local business, Master Meats, noting he sold that company the property where it’s located.
“I had built a new place out on Keltic Drive and I told them, I’ve got this place down on Johnston Street, it’s got refrigeration already in it, you’ve got a walk-in freezer,” he said. “I said you may have to make some changes inside … They’ve been there ever since. They put out a good product.”
Braunmiller generally tries to deflect attention paid to him but agreed to the Cape Breton Business and Philanthropy Hall of Fame acknowledgement because he believes his children were likely behind his nomination.