Like many Vancouver Islanders, Bruce Dirom loves to fish. So when the former BC Hydro worker was eyeing a career change, he wanted to incorporate that passion while building a business from his hometown of Port Hardy.
Hardy Buoys Smoked Fish was born.
“I was an avid sports fisherman and I had the crazy ambition of going into business for myself,” Bruce recalls. Today, 25 years later, he and wife Carol have continued to expand Hardy Buoys’ product line – something salmon fans appreciate! – while also offering custom processing for clients.
Like so many Island producers, partnerships are key and for Hardy Buoys that has included organizations like BC Salmon Farmers Association members Cermaq and Marine Harvest. Local fish are turned into delectable, value-added treats such as smoked and candied salmon and salmon nuggets, their most popular product in local stores.
“The salmon nuggets by far have been the flagship product for our company,” Bruce says.
Looking ahead, the team is currently developing shelf-stable salmon jerky products that will be perfect not only for everyday enjoyment, but also for hikers, campers and others needing on-the-go, non-refrigerated options.
Throughout the company’s growth, local consumer and community support has been vital, Bruce says, as has giving back as much as they can. Hardy Buoys also works closely with the local First Nations to provide quality local employment.
“You’re only as good as your relationships, and in producing quality products, we’re not going to be the cheapest, but we’ll always endeavour to be the best,” Dirom reflects.
Island made: Island Good
Hardy Buoys and the BC Salmon Farmers Association are among the numerous Vancouver Island producers and growers participating in Island Good, an initiative with four Island grocers to increase consumer awareness of Island-made and Island-grown food products.
The Vancouver Island Economic Alliance pilot project, in all Island Country Grocer stores (except for Salt Spring) Thrifty Foods, Quality Foods and 49th Parallel Grocery stores through August, aims to increase demand for products made and/or grown on the Island.
Shoppers can look for ‘Island Good’ stickers, posters and other signage highlighting these Island products in all store departments.
“We’ve been thrilled with the interest Vancouver Islanders have shown in the Island Good program since it launched and as we come into spring and summer, those opportunities to shop local, source local and eat local will be even greater,” says VIEA President George Hanson. “Shoppers have shown us that identifying Island Good options is important to them and we know that will lead to increased production, more jobs and more production capacity.”
Look for the Island Good tags, enjoy local food and support our local economy: It’s Island Good!