They grew up watching their dad slaughtering cows in the butchery, Andre Huber shares.
“Times have changed since but the fundamentals of being hardworking, disciplined, honest and providing quality and good service remain.”
Since 1995, Andre and Ryan Huber have come a long way from Dad’s helpers to brother bosses with their own butchery at Dempsey, except that their butchery looks nothing like the ones at wet markets.
With 13,000 sqft of retail space, Huber’s Butchery has come a long way from its beginnings as a small shop and so have the brothers.
Entrepreneurship had never been on the radar for either Andre or Ryan. It was only in 2005 that they decided to go into it full time.
A brand new experience for Automotive Engineering-educated Ryan, things were a little smoother for Andre with his degree in Business.
The brothers picked up “the workings of a small business” from father Ernst Huber.
“This helped at the start but very quickly we had to learn on our own how to take the business to the next level,” says Andre.
In the beginning, a lot of time was spent “convincing customers to switch to us, building sales and setting up systems,” says Andre.
The biggest investment was time. We were working 16 hours, 7 days a week, holding off any plans for marriage and family until everything was more stable.
“We [also] had to work hard and lead by example,” he says, so “butchers twice our age would respect us”.
By expanding their mindset, goals, the brothers have grown with the company and gone from “doing it themselves to managing a team”.
Incorporating efficiency-boosting technology such as SAP Business One also gave them access to a whole “suite of services they never had before”.
Using this new system also gave them a 40% revenue boost and a 10% drop in losses, Ryan shared.
They take special care to not end up a “run-of-the-mill” meat supplier, so the “family feel” of customer relations is very important.
Today, Huber’s Butchery has grown into a team of 130 with a Customer Satisfaction Rating of 88.2% (compared to the 2016 national average of 71.8.)
What began as a dream to bring international meats and sausages into Singapore has also blossomed into a massive shopping experience of meats, cheeses, breads and wines.
And while they have tided their fair share of troubles, most of the memories made have been good ones.
“From achieving sales targets, breaking even and winning awards, Ryan and I are happy we managed to accomplish everything while growing our own families.”
A Father’s Lesson
Since the get-go of Huber’s Butchery, Ernst Huber did not take up shares in the business.
While this enabled his sons to take full ownership and responsibility of the business, Andre admits that becoming “a boss at a tender age of 27” was “challenging”.
Much of Huber’s Butchery philosophy comes from their father, Andre says.
“Discipline, honesty, integrity and [the heart] to always do the best we can. To treat everyone, even the cleaners, with the same respect, and to always be righteous and fair.”
It all came from the way he brought us up.
One example he cites in a previous interview is about how they had reminded a vendor to send an invoice when the vendor had forgotten to do so. This was despite the fact that the brothers were struggling to make ends meet themselves.
“I learnt early on that it’s better to conduct your business honestly, so you have nothing to fear,” Andre emphasises.
Another important aspect is trust, Ryan adds, not just in the form of the customers’ trust in them, but also as the trust in one another at the company.
A Huber’s Heart
While the brothers declined to reveal revenue, Huber’s Butchery is doing well today both as a supplier and as a bistro.
On what makes a good businessman, Andre emphasises that it’s important to “find an opportunity or something that you’re good at”.
After all, that was how he and his brother had found their own entrepreneurial calling.
“Plan your business and strategy well, then do your best to execute it.”
And as for where they themselves are headed, it’s all about becoming Singapore’s “premier producer and supplier”, and expanding overseas.
“We want to show that an Asian country such as Singapore can produce very good European-styled products.”
Featured Image Credit: Huber’s Butchery YouTube