Calgary butcher plans to open a shop with a cause
Matthew Oliver Wong believes a business can be profitable and also give back
Matthew Oliver Wong is hoping to have his butcher shop up and running within the next few months. // Submitted
Matthew Oliver Wong is on a mission to revamp the butchery field.
The born-and-raised Calgarian describes himself as a traditional butcher with a modern style.
He has always enjoyed working with food, even before he decided to pursue it as a career.
“I was always cooking, putting myself through school when I was growing up. And there was a point where I kind of wanted to take cooking more seriously,” Wong says.
He entered into SAIT’s butchery and charcuterie management program and says it was an enlightening experience.
“To find out that I could implement a lot of those skills that I learned in the culinary industry and add them into the butchery field,” Wong says, adding he developed a passion for butchery.
A journey to self-employment
Wong has just finished a six-month self-employment program called Momentum, where he learned all about running a business.
He says the program taught him everything from business models, marketing, and accounting, to the importance of being a part of the community and giving back.
“They really try to encourage us to have an inner ‘why’ of our business… That's what really sets you apart from everybody else.”
Wong started putting together a business plan for his butcher shop, Oliver Meats, with values focused on community and honesty.
“We wanted to have a different take on it and just look at it a little bit differently. To have a reason, a real reason to do things.”
Cross rib roast. // Submitted
A business with a cause
He decided he wanted his business to have a cause, so he plans to provide products to low-income households.
“Essentially, we're going to set aside a portion of our profits to be turned into meat packs of equivalent value and donated to deserving families,” Wong says.
“We want to give that option to the consumer, that with their purchase, they're also able to make a difference, potentially, in someone's life.”
Wong says the Momentum program taught him a valuable lesson.
“You can have a profitable business, and you can also do something for a cause at the same time if you plan it right.”
Inspired by his own circumstances
When deciding on what kind of cause he wanted his business to support, Wong was inspired by his own family.
He and his partner Kourtney have five children, ranging in age from nine months to 16 years.
“We have gone through food insecurity issues and having to reach out to resources like the food bank,” he says.
“So we have had to do that as a family before. And that is the reason why we tried to incorporate this into our business model.”
Wong says he will be exploring options on how to roll out the logistics of the donated meat packs once his business is up and running.
Chicken legs. // Submitted
Getting up and running
Over the next few months, Wong will be presenting his business plan and applying for licensing. He says Momentum will help with securing loans, and he is also looking at utilizing the Futurpreneur program.
Oliver Meats offers all-natural, hormone- and antibiotic-free, locally sourced, hand-picked beef, pork, and chicken, Wong says.
“What I love most is knowing that my product is good and that I can stand by it. I know where the produce comes from,” he adds.
“I'm confident in my abilities to handle the meat and to process it, to give the customers a very high-quality product through my education in school and my past years of experience in the industry.”