Hard work, dedication and the utmost gratitude has been the perfect recipe for success for Milligan Meats butcher shop located in the heart of Cloyne in Lennox and Addington County. Owners Brian and Joanna Milligan have an unparalleled loyalty to their community that radiates through their enthusiasm, customer focus and passion for their employees.
“I get goosebumps when I say it, but the people that come here locals and tourists alike, they are grateful,” said Brian. “To have a business where people come in and they are grateful you are here, it makes you feel so incredible.”
Owning a business in a rural setting was never a deterrent for Brain and Joanna. They knew having the right attitude and community support can be all the difference.
“Some people say home grown business is tough and wish they’d never done it, but that’s not us,” said Brian. “I am so glad we did this. I feel so grateful, I honestly feel like I’m putting happiness back into people’s meals. It makes me want to cut perfect, it makes me want to sell the best that I can, because I know our customers are going to come back and be thankful. That’s amazing business.”
This July, Brian and Joanna celebrated their first year in business, as well as their second year of marriage. Prior to opening Milligan Meats, Brian worked a variety of jobs, including stints with another L&A County butcher shop, Quinn’s Meats in Yarker.
“Working at Quinn’s Meats there were times when it would slow down, so I’d go and find another opportunity somewhere else,” explains Brian. “I have always been okay with starting another job. To me it’s a new and different challenge, so I just kept learning different things. From shoeing horses, to plumbing, cutting meat, managing a campground, all kinds of things like that. It felt good to have a change.”
“He still does all those things even though he works 7 days a week,” adds Joanna. “If someone has a plumbing emergency they call Brian.”
Joanna is originally from Hamilton, and moved out west where she was a musician on the road for many years. “Ever since I was a little kid I wanted a farm, a log house and a lake, so I got it. I was tired of the scene out there and I had to figure something out after moving from the big city life to the forest,” she said.
Buying the Snider heritage farm in Cloyne 12 years ago, Brian and Joanna set their roots in Addington Highlands. “We chose L&A County because it’s home now,” said Joanna. “We were tired of commuting, and we wanted to be together. Having everything so local here, how could we work anywhere else? We are here and we love it.”
Making partnerships within the community has created opportunities for both Milligan Meats and the future workforce in Addington Highlands. “We support the school (North Addington Education Centre) with BBQ’s and their student’s come here to learn through their co-op program,” said Brian. “And there will be more of that, as we have continued success.”
“L&A County Economic Development office has been very helpful for us and our business as well,” adds Joanna. “There are so many opportunities with the government and grants, you just have to go looking. So that’s what we’ve been doing and it’s been working out really well.”
Brian and Joanna have very clear and determined goals for their business and their employees. “I want to build a really great, strong business, and then I’ll pass it on,” said Brian. Grooming and investing in their employees to take on leadership roles is at the forefront. “If they want in, we will make them a part of this business. Whether it be shareholders or owners down the road. We want to make this much more than a job, so that it feels like there is something here, for our employee’s future, always.”
Having a friendly atmosphere, teaching their employees to have confidence and to engage with the customers is important to Brian and Joanna. “It’s okay to stop and talk. I want our customers to have an experience when they are here. It’s important to make relationships with people,” expresses Brian. “The more happy business that happens in this small town, then the better this town gets.”