Max Teys and Hugh Ketter Circa 1956.
Max Teys and Hugh Ketter Circa 1956. Teys Australia

Thriving meat processing empire recognised in Hall of Fame

A HUMBLE family butcher shop established in post-war Brisbane was the first step towards a meat processing empire still thriving almost 70 years later.

When Cid Teys' three younger brothers Cliff, Max and Mick returned from serving in the Second World War in Papua New Guinea, they struggled to find work.

He bought a butcher's shop to start a family business which now operates six plants in Queensland, NSW and South Australia, employs about 4300 staff and turns over about $2.5 billion a year.

Teys Australia - which has meat processing plants at Beenleigh, Biloela and Rockhampton, a hide processing plant at Murgon and a 30,000-head feed lot at Condamine - was last night inducted into the 2014 Queensland Business Leaders Hall of Fame.

QUT deputy vice-chancellor Peter Little said Teys was an inspirational example of how hard work and innovation could transform a small family business into a flourishing industry leader.

"Teys Australia is a quiet achiever with an incredible story of growth in what is a key area of the state's economy," he said.

"With an increasing demand for meat from the developing world, the business is well-positioned to continue thriving in the next chapter of its rich history."

Mr Little said Cid Teys was a "real entrepreneur" who rapidly expanded from slaughtering about 300 head at the first abattoir to about 32,000 a week across various sites.

"It's a remarkable story because they've weathered the domination of their industry by large corporations, withstood all of the drought cycles, the price fluctuation cycles, rise and fall of the dollar, difficult seasons and they're now, after merging with Cargill company, it's now the second largest beef producer and exporter in Australia.

"They've been able to show a Queensland owned and controlled business can not only survive the difficult beef business face but they can grow and they continue to succeed."

Chief Brad Teys started out cleaning butcher shops after school as a young teen and then working in processing plants on holidays when he was a bit older.

He said the company's philosophy was to enrich the communities they worked in - from helping workers settle in to running local charity campaigns.

"We like to fly under the radar, we don't blow our trumpet and when we do something right we just sort of put it in the back pocket ... that Queensland-based psychology runs through the business," he said.

Teys brought in foreign workers to fix a staff shortage, and has embraced many refugees, and Mr Teys said he was proud of how far they had come.

"It's quite a humbling experience when you talk to some of those people who've made their lives there, enjoy working for the company and (praise) what the company has done," he said.