My first love was always farming, but at the age of twelve my dad suggested butchery, so I started as a Saturday boy in a local Perth shop.
After finishing school I went to serve my apprenticeship in the shop as a career. In 1986, at the age of 19, I was able to get enough money together to open my very own, very small, shop then away I went. I bought my first shop in Dunning for two thousand one hundred pounds, it was a sum of money at the time, but I doubt I’d be able to get much of a shop for that nowadays. That first day of running my own business was wonderful and I still remember my very first customer, Mrs Lawson (7.30am , 16th December 1986).
My first staff member started the following year, Jim Park, and we are still working together to this day. Jim often jokes that we now make more sausages in an hour than we did in a month.
I spent most of my spare time in those early years trying to source the top animals in Scotland to try and get a name for myself as the best butcher with the best Scottish beef. I focussed on local producers and my knowledge of farming proved invaluable. It took a little time, but soon people were travelling from Perth and the local villages and even Edinburgh to buy their meat from a small country butchers rather than the much bigger retailers.
As we started to gain a name for our produce and expertise, we began to expand and I was able to get another local shop in Perth, the very same shop I’d worked as a Saturday boy all those years earlier.
From one shop to several, from supplying local restaurants to the best in Scotland and eventually to where we are now. However, our tradition and heritage doesn’t mean we are not looking forwards, expanding our knowledge and trying to be as innovative as possible. It’s important for me to always look to the future, with farming you’ve got to think about the coming seasons and the challenges that will bring. In my business, I try to stay one step ahead, which can only be achieved by developing your ideas and listening to your customers.
It can be nice to take a look back once in a while though.
Our premises are based on Findony Farm in the beautiful Perthshire village of Dunning where I have lived all my life. Based nine miles from Perth and five miles from Auchterarder at the foot of the Ochil Hills, it is a tight-knit community steeped in history and its symbolic connection to farming.
Findony Farm is not only the centre of my business but home to me, my wife, and two children. From a boy to butcher and custodian of the farm, my passion has always been about promoting fresh, local ingredients, and of course, caring for the animals. A tradition which stretches way back to my great grandfather…
The craft and skill of our butchers may not have changed much over the years but some of the innovative techniques we have developed in our state of the art premises have. We still dry cure our bacon by hand and while supplying over two hundred hotels and restaurants, in addition to all of the national supermarkets is different from our early days, we’ve worked extremely hard at maintaining the quality despite the huge increase in volume. Our products and who we supply them to speaks for themselves.
We have a small team of individuals at Simon Howie Butchers who are passionate about every stage of the process from sourcing the best ingredients right through to the order arriving at your door. We strive to make sure everything for our customers is the best it can possibly be.