The Chamber of Commerce is sitting down with each of the winners from the recent Waikato Chamber of Commerce Business Awards, supported by Foster Construction Group, to find out what they did to stand out from the crowd. This week's Winners’ Insight is with Coromandel butchery The Chopping Block, which won the Micro Business of the Year category.
It’s not unusual for people to wander into The Chopping Block to congratulate Matthew Colvin and Chelsie Geldard on winning the Micro Business of the Year award. They may not be there to buy any meat; they simply want to pass on their well wishes to the young couple on their effort.
But chances are they might also be there to buy some pork and seaweed sausages, which they sell five times as many of compared with their other sausages.
This hard-working couple were looking at buying The Chopping Block in early 2020 before Covid hit. They decided to go ahead with buying the business after the first wave of Covid.
“We knew that no matter what, people will always need to eat!”
Fast forward two years, and the couple’s work ethic and commitment to offering innovative, delicious products – like the pork and seaweed sausages – has seen them build up a loyal clientele.
And it’s not just locals who love The Chopping Block’s products. They have customers around the North Island who regularly place orders. Those are generally visitors to Coromandel who’ve experienced how good The Chopping Block’s products are, and then want them delivered to them at home.
When they bought the business, the couple decided they wanted to enter an award in a year or two.
“We knew we’d done a lot in a small amount of time, and we were quite proud of that,” Chelsie said
“But ultimately, we were keen on getting feedback from the judges. The entry process was a good reflection process because you’re writing all the knowledge down, everything that’s in your head but you don’t necessarily document.”
It was during the judging process that Matthew and Chelsie had an “aha!” moment. The judges could see that The Chopping Block had a niche – paddock to plate. But Matthew and Chelsie hadn’t realised the uniqueness of their business model.
“We were operating that model but hadn’t necessarily articulated it,” Chelsie said
And that model sees beef raised on a family farm. Once it’s been slaughtered at an approved processing facility, Matthew processes the carcasses. He also processes home kill and wild game.
And nothing goes to waste. Everything in store is handmade including the sausages and salamis.
“We really pride ourselves on being an old school butchery and offering a range of products that are affordable,” Matthew said.
They’re also all gluten-free, except for their black pudding.
“We’re always looking for new ways to make our black pudding gluten-free,” Matthew said. “The trick is getting it to taste just as good as the amazing handmade one we have already!”
And the Business Awards judges agreed: “The Chopping Block has turned around a business that was declining in what is becoming a competitive niche market. They did this by looking through the eyes of their customers to see that the business wasn’t just about being a butchery, it was about the concept of paddock to plate, the Coromandel community and the visual presentation of their products.”
With the shop open six days a week – seven during the busy summer period – the hardworking couple don’t get much of a break. So closing the shop to attend the Business Awards gala dinner in Hamilton was something of a novelty.
“It was one of the best nights we’ve ever had,” Matthew said. “We were all hoping to win but we weren’t expecting it. It’s been quite overwhelming and exciting to know we’ve been recognised for all our hard work, and outside our small community.”
So what’s next for The Chopping Block?
“We really need some more staff, but that’s a bit tricky in a small place like the Coromandel. So we’re working on that, but the next big thing is seafood. We’ll have everything from fresh fish to smoked fish, smoked and marinated mussels.”
And you can be sure they’ll be making plenty of pork and seaweed sausages to feed the masses over summer!