Craig Munro of Munro’s Quality Meats runs a highly successful butchery located at the Wilberforce Shopping Centre in Sydney’s North West, New South Wales. The secret to the business’s success is Craig’s passion for his craft, where innovation, continuous training, apprentice mentoring programmes and supporting his local community have given him an enviable reputation in the industry.

In 1985 Munro’s Quality Meats was founded by Craig’s grandfather Harold, and father Barry. They ran several successful businesses across Sydney but wanted to focus on providing customers with the highest level of quality products and service, which led to Munro’s Quality Meats moving to Wilberforce.

Craig’s grandfather was instrumental in laying the foundation of Munro’s Quality Meats’ success but it wasn’t until Craig and his father took over the business in 2011 that they were given the opportunity to realise their distinct vision of the future for the shop. The results have been impressive. Since Craig and Barry took over they have taken on three adjoining shops that have given them great high street real-estate and the ability to offer a large array of products, some of which you would not expect to see in a butcher’s window.

“Our focus has always been to deliver quality products to our customers and this philosophy has been the hallmark of our success. Initially, we were only one shop but as we grew we expanded into the shops next to us. This allowed us to reconfigure the shop and offer a greater variety of products that reflected the needs of our customers and our community.  We now offer pre-packaged products, a full continental deli, sauces, rubs, charcoal and woodchips for slow smoke BBQs and more,” Craig says with pride.

Innovation and mentoring

As the industry changes and it is becoming harder to achieve a profitable and sustainable business with so much competition, the need to create a point of difference has never been more critical. This is something both Craig and his father understand all too well, which has resulted in Munro’s thinking outside the box by offering an onsite chef.

“If we were going to stay ahead of the game we needed to provide a point of difference that would allow us to be competitive and profitable. Our onsite chef is a great example of how listening to our customers pays great dividends.  Our customers can directly talk to our chef to find out the best ways to create new and interesting meals, as well as how to make expensive cuts affordable. Our customers just love it! Part of being a butcher is to educate our customers and what better way to do that than through the culinary prowess of a chef. We also put these recipes on Facebook, a medium that has helped us promote and grow our business. ”

Another of Craig’s strength is understanding that staff are the cornerstone of any business and that investing in your people, in particular apprentices, is vital to delivering the highest standards of customer service. Craig has worked tirelessly to promote the meat industry trying to attract younger people. He works side-by-side with Nepean and Granville TAFEs to find ways to encourage high school students to go to TAFE and become certified butchers, allowing them to see butchery as a great career path.

“I’ve been in this industry all my life, it’s all I know and I love it. I started off washing floors and my payment was my favourite food, frankfurts. I then started to make rissoles then sausages to eventually studying my craft at Nepean TAFE. This is where my passion for supporting apprentices came about. I am a big believer in trying to give our employees a career path and I understand the importance of training staff and supporting our apprentices, who are the key to our industry’s future.

“All the apprentices we have had here we’ve trained to the point where they’ve opened their own shops and we’re quite proud to see our apprentices doing well for themselves. We try to bring a lot more young people through our doors to keep the industry alive in the Hawkesbury, and to expand our business. That’s what we’re all about, trying to train the next generation of butchers coming through, as they are the future of our industry.”

Awards and accolades

To stay innovative you need to learn from the best. This is one of Craig’s greatest strength not only sharing his knowledge and skills with his staff and apprentices but also acquiring a broad skill base through entering and winning prestigious competitions, such as being awarded the first NSW Master Butcher Award and being the winner of the Sydney Meatstock Butcher Wars.

“I started entering competitions five years ago as an opportunity to showcase my skills and promote our shop. It was very intimidating at first but I came to realise that these competitions were an opportunity to learn from the masters. You learn so much from each competitor, the latest trends, recipes, techniques and the generosity of spirit is awe-inspiring. Competitions are a great way to unite our industry and develop the skills that you couldn’t get out of a book. Everything you learn you take back to the shop. It gives you that competitive edge, creating excitement for your customers. It’s why we have been so successful and continue to grow.”