By Rebecca Skilton
Don’t be fooled by the name. This business is anything but grumpy.
Based in Cranbourne East, Grumpy Gary’s is the manufacturer and distributor of award-winning, natural, handcrafted hot sauces. The exciting new kid on the block taking the chilli world by storm, Grumpy Gary’s is 100 per cent Australian, home-made and the absolute joy and passion of the Muhar family.
“It started about four years back when I was working my full-time job,” Grumpy Gary himself, Gary Muhar, explained.
“I used to make some hot sauces on the weekend just for myself and I would take them to work to spice up my food.
“People started trying the hot sauce from my lunch and began asking ‘what was that hot sauce you had two weeks back?’ … So I started keeping a record of what I was making and then people started buying and the orders grew.
“I continued my full-time work for about a year and a half but (I couldn’t) keep both up and I thought; ‘That’s it, chilli wins!’”
Struggling to handle all aspects of the Grumpy Gary’s business alone, Gary’s eldest daughter Nancy was the next to join the chilli venture. The 28-year-old left her full-time position as a nurse to become Grumpy Gary’s national sales manager.
“Together Nancy and I were both (putting in) 100 per cent and trying to squeeze 110 per cent out of what we were doing,” Gary said.
“So we turned to (my wife Archna and 22-year-old daughter Sabina) and said ‘Guys come on, help us out, we are drowning.’
“That’s when my wife quit her full-time work and she jumped into Grump Gary’s full-time. She’s now looking after the back of house work. She is basically the brain behind Grumpy Gary’s that makes it function so efficiently.
“And then we have Sabina. She’s looking after our social media and our branding. So all that you see on the Grumpy Gary’s website or social media, she’s the person behind it. She’s the one who designs our logos – every graphic you see is designed by Sabina.”
Despite having little business training between them, the Muhars joined forces to bring their passion to life; a move that now sees them personally produce more than 1000 bottles of nine hot sauce flavours a week.
And while Grumpy Gary’s sauces are stocked in 30 locations Australia wide, customers will still find the Muhars at local and interstate markets, events and festivals, where they love watching their sauces ‘wow’ customers.
“This is what we love. This is our passion. Every day we work hard but we are having a good time. Life is a holiday and we are truly blessed,” Gary said.
“But you want to know what fires up the whole Grump Gary’s network? It’s the response we get from the customers. It’s the expression we see in the customer’s eyes when they taste my hot sauce … their eyebrows will rise up and their eyes will widen … It’s like WOW! So that’s what fires us.”
While Grumpy Gary’s has already rocked the chilli world, the future is looking just as bright with a number of new chilli products set to enter the Grumpy Gary’s range as well as the introduction of their hottest sauce yet.
“It’s all thanks to our customers,” Nancy said.
“We came to Australia 15 years ago now as migrants and the way that this country and its people have accepted us with open arms (is amazing). And now they are giving us incredible feedback about our sauces. There’s nothing better.
“We’re blessed to be a part of this amazing culture and this beautiful country. Just the fact that we are able to share a little bit of our food, our culture and our story with people that have so amazingly accepted us, it’s just great.”
And for anyone wondering about the Grumpy Gary’s name?
“When he stops doing his smile, he has this resting grumpy face!” Nancy laughed.
“I mean look at me,” Gary said.
“What you guys fail to see that behind this grumpy looking guy is a big smiling heart. So that’s what it is, I thought okay the family calls me grumpy, says I look grumpy but I’m not grumpy, okay so if we go on the looks Grumpy Gary is what I am … Grumpy Gary’s Hot Sauces it is!”