Andy Fenner | Meat Merchant, Entrepreneur & Food Writer

Andy Fenner

Andy Fenner is the co founder of Frankie Fenner Meat Merchants which is responsible for starting a conversation that can now be heard at butchers, restaurants and dinner tables across the country. The meat merchants are getting in touch with the origins of our food, asking questions about the farmers and the animals, and eating cuts that we would’ve previously tossed out. Andy and his wife Nicole, help run FFMM on a daily basis. Andy constantly raves about how without the constant support and help of Nicole, the business would not be where it is today. Andy Fenner is at the forefront of a clean, ethical, sustainable meat movement that is educating meat eaters who’d like to dine with a clear conscience, and for that he should be applauded. Andy also has his own food blog titled Andy Fenner. Eat. Drink. Write. 

My Definition Of Success | Success should have a direct relationship with happiness and well being. I don’t see the two as being mutually exclusive. There are too many people who are “successful” at work but miserable at home. If business is great but you’re walking around angry or stressed, well…then that’s not success. Not to me. You need to prioritise things. You need to prioritise life. Success is going to bed every night feeling like you are complete. Work is only a part of that. 

Andy-Fenner-2I Am Driven By | We’re swimming upstream doing what we do, no doubt about it. Essentially we are trying to get people to relook an entire category (meat) and we are doing that because we are fed up with the industry. We aren’t just selling them what they know, we are selling them something they think they know. But they actually don’t. It’s our job to shine light on the bullshit that is going on with agriculture and meat production. The approach we have taken is based on changing perceptions. And when you try and change they way people think, it’s always hard. That’s why when we succeed it’s that little bit sweeter.   

The Difference Between Good And Great | People who are good at what they do and know that they are good at what they do will always stay good. People who are good at what they do but always want to learn and get better – those are the people who will be great at what they want to do. I still feel like FFMM has only just got started. I don’t feel like we are a success story at all. I feel like the story is only about to start.

 A Key Talent | Finding balance. Being driven is fine, but know where to draw the line. You need to give every single work day everything you have but you also need to be able to tune out. Being an entrepreneur means taking on enormous responsibilities (expenses, staff salaries etc.) and if you’re not careful this will consume you. You’ll find yourself lying in bed in a cold sweat wondering where the next Rand is coming from. That’s dangerous. You need to tune out. Go for a run. Go for a swim. Meditate. Have dinner with your partner and leave the phones in the other room. Not thinking about business for a few hours doesn’t make you less of a businessperson. It makes you human. And being human is important in making business decisions.

Lessons I Have Learnt | The biggest lesson I have learnt is the willingness to accept that you might need to change your idea. When you start you’re all like “take it or leave it, this is what we do”. You then realise that there’s actually nothing wrong with tweaking your concept to give people what they want. Listen to any CONSTRUCTIVE feedback. That’s your best tool for measuring whether or not your brand is working. I’m not saying change your idea. Just mould it when it needs to be moulded. It’s not back-pedalling, it’s improving.

Andy-Fenner-3Dealing With Doubt | Self doubt is a killer. I would say when you are trying to forge your own path and do things a bit differently you deal with it almost on a daily basis. In fact, if I feel too comfortable about the way things are going it’s normally a warning sign that something can be improved on. I also find that success does bring bad energy and negativity from outside parties. Recently I had a really good “friend” of mine attack my business, my ethics and my credibility on social media. I was heartbroken. It stung. I texted him to see what was up and his responses were so scathing that, for a while, I believed what he was saying was true. All the criticisms started to sound real. That can happen. Luckily, my wife and friends and family helped me see that his opinions of me weren’t actually important. I laughed it off. The lesson learnt from that was that life changes. Friendships fade and new ones emerge. Surround yourself with people you love and try and enjoy life with them. You have a limited amount of time on this planet – the more good energy you can squeeze into that time the better. For you and for your business.

My Future Dreams And Ambitions | We are in the process of moving our depot facility into Woodstock. Running in parallel to this, we are opening more satellite retail stores across Cape Town. By the end of the year, I want 5 or 6 of them. By the end of next year I want a couple more. And if they are all working like we hope they will then I’d like to take the business model to Joburg. That’s the boring part. The interesting part is actually changing the way people eat. I want people to stop using prices a s a way to choose where they buy meat. I’d like them to start with animal welfare and quality of life and then make their choices. We need to support the farmers not the retailers. We need to change the industry and I am hoping we can help play a part in that.

Advice On Building Wealth | If you want to start a business you will need money. It’s as simple as that. We were lucky enough to have a launchpad when we created FFMM. We have fought and scrapped every single day to make it work but people do need to know that we came into it with opportunities that aren’t easily available.

On Inspiring Others | The hardest part of any start up business is staff. The best you can do is try and show people the growth potential and invite them to come along for the ride. We don’t hire people based on experience at all. I will take passion and a willingness to learn over experience any day. As an owner all you can do is try and lead by example and try to create a culture whereby everyone who arrives for work believes that they are working for the best brand in that category. We have phenomenal staff working for us and any success we have achieved is 100% because of them. 

Andy-Fenner-1I Am Inspired By | Well, as lame as this sounds my Dad is my role model. To this day he’s the guy I call for advice and he’s the one I listen to. That’s the truth. In terms of inspiration, there are hundreds of butchers I follow via social media who I learn from every single day. I consume cookbooks to try and understand the product I’m selling and I read articles online. There is so much information available now that you really have no excuse for not wanting to learn more. Locally I would have to single out Rob Riley as a mentor. People might see him as a competitor but I definitely don’t. Butchery has been in his family for generations and he knows far more than I do. I can’t even count the number of times I have called him up with some kind of emergency and every single time he has been willing to help. He is a legend in every sense of the word.

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