Staking out a life change
Toby and Kay Cotter are hanging up their knives after more than 35 years in the butchery industry.
The couple began their adventure in Tokoroa in 1978 when they went into a partnership with South Waikato Meats.
The industry was so thriving that it wasn’t long before they opened up a second shop – Mr Meats – in the mid-80s.
‘‘In the early years it was a big thing.’’
With more than eight butchers in Tokoroa alone, the couple said they were more like dairies in those days.
‘‘Independent stores were well supported,’’ Mrs Cotter said.
And it was no bloodied apron industry.
Mrs Cotter remembers having a clean white shirt and tie ready every morning for her husband.
Making hand-made sausages and cutting meat with a handsaw blade called for 14- hour days at least.
But there was certainly a work hard, play hard philosophy.
Before the days of health and safety, Mr Cotter remembers making sheep eye sandwiches for fellow workers or locking them in the freezer.
He said he had never lost the passion for the industry.
‘‘My family were all butchers,’’ he said. ‘‘Most butchers are jovial, they are a breed of their own.’’
The couple bought Export Meats in 1993 and have officially handed over the keys to Ivan and Elizabeth Gray.
They wish the Gray’s all the best and say it is the people they will miss the most.
And the people will miss them.