Port Stanley Villager Jan:Feb 2020

Cole-Munro has created 80 jobs in St. Thomas, 50 at its farms, 20 at the Little Current fish processing plant, and 40 at the company’s small hatchery. Looking forward, with the new plant working only at half capacity, Cole plans to grow more fish and expand the business, with “more value-added products, consumer ready packaging.

To advertise here, please contact Joe@villagerpublications.com “Growing up in Owen Sound, I had two mentors (a school buddy’s parents) who owned the fish company,” said Cole. “It was a fascinating business. I learned from him the importance of a nickel. In our business, a nickel is everything. Saving a nickel and getting a nickel on the other side. I thought ‘these guys have done really good for themselves, so could I’. Cole then incorporated the company and took over as sole proprietor. He immediately started selling to a company in Montreal, and in his first five years, Cole-Munro Foods Group grew 70 per cent per year. In 1999, the business moved to St. Thomas. “That’s where we got our start. Those are the tough years. They make you or they break you. “We were a processor and a marketer,” he said. “The industry was young. Selling aquaculture, you had to develop a market. There’s wasn’t a market back then. You really had to prove the quality was good and that you could service the retailer.” By 2013 “we became THE processor. We needed to grow the industry, so we started buying farms.” He bought a small hatchery, some growing sites. “We always tried to be out at the front of consolidation. I don’t know if it was by design early on, but the reality is, in the early days, you’re fighting it out with everyone, nobody is making any money. As any industry gets bigger, you get maturity and it helps you grow better.” Cole now supplies all the largest retailers and wholesalers in Canada. “We try to keep it to the big players because we don’t want to cannibalize our customers’ sales. We’re still exclusively trout. They’re sold as rainbow and steelhead.” Today, Ontario’s commercial aquaculture industry generates about 8,000 tonnes of trout, or 106 million meals, every year, according to the Ontario Aquaculture Association. (Susan is the president.) Seafood production has doubled in the province since 2011 and accounts for upwards of 550 direct and indirect jobs, contributing $110 million to Ontario’s economy.

Dan Salhani Broker CENTURY 21 First Canadian Corp., Dan Salhani Inc.; Brokerage* CELL: 519-639-4928 • OFFICE: 519-673-3390 Unit 1, 206Main St, Port Stanley N5L 1C3 daniel.salhani@century21.ca www.century21.ca/daniel.salhani *Selling Real Estate since 1989 *Broker since 1997 *Resident of Port Stanley since 1998

Port Stanley Villager • Jan-Feb 2020 • Page 5

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