The Eriksen brothers grew up on the family farm in Waerenga-O-Kuri, 50km west of Gisborne. The Eriksen family first arrived at this slice of paradise after their grandfather, a soldier returned from fighting war, was allotted the land through a World War II ballot.
In the beginning, the business supplied meat cuts to restaurants. Simon Eriksen’s office was his 1986 Subaru Legacy. A year in, brother Will joined the business to help drive sales alongside Simon. Andy Ham, an Irishman that Will had met overseas, had also signed up to the business.
The bones of Neat Meat were taking shape. It seemed important to stand out from the crowd. Not afraid of a challenge, Neat Meat bucked the status quo and offered imported Australian lamb and beef – only to be met with the ire of parochial chefs. It was time for a new way of thinking.
A few years later, Tim the youngest Eriksen brother joined the business and added his expertise to the Sales Team. This allowed Simon to get off the road and step back into the business, leaving Will and Tim to focus on developing relationships and growing sales.
It wasn’t long until Mark Hunter then joined Neat Meat. Mark lends a dry, matter-of-fact approach to the business ensuring the t’s are crossed and the i’s are dotted. A chartered accountant, with a strong understanding of procurement and farming, Mark balances the skill set and keeps the brothers in line.
Neat Meat believes in looking ahead, meeting the challenge of what’s next, taking care of your mates and always being best – whether it’s working closely with farmers who are prepared to over-commit when it comes to a farming practice to deliver the best product.
This farming practice had to include looking after their animals and land ethically and sustainably. It also meant Neat Meat had to invest in world-leading machinery and packaging technology with the highest environmental credentials and above all stay innovative to keep delivering the best to the customer.
20 years on, the Subaru has been replaced by something that fits the kids and tows the boat and Neat Meat is more than just three brothers, but it will always be a family business.