Hardy Buoys Smoked Fish Inc. was founded in 1994 by Bruce and Carol Dirom. What started as a hobby, a way for Bruce to supplement his young family’s income has evolved into one of the largest employers in Port Hardy.
An avid sports fisherman, Bruce Dirom recognized a need for a storage facility for the many visitors and tourists that descended upon Port Hardy each summer. Both Bruce and Carol having come from small towns themselves knew that Port Hardy was where they wanted to put down roots and raise their family. Working for BC Hydro at the time, the prospect of moving around the province for work was not appealing to either of them.
Bruce saw this opportunity to run a seafood locker seasonally as a way to supplement his young family’s income, while still working full time with the local utilities company.
A tiny 3000 sq foot building was found, and renovations began for a small 10 x 10 freezer and even smaller walk in cooler. Someone suggested a smoke house be installed to allow for tourists to be able to take more fish home across the border (in those days there was no limits on smoked and canned fish), so Bruce sourced a smoke house and installed that too!
Bruce’s brother John was excited to help his little brother out, and so one day their father commented that they should call the business “The Hardy Boys” of course trademarks and such prevented the use of that name, so a play on words was used and we became known as Hardy Buoys Smoked Fish.
June 4, 1994, Hardy Buoys Smoked Fish Inc., a workforce of one additional employee besides Bruce and Carol, opened its’ doors to a very receptive sports fishing community. By midsummer, word had spread and everyone was enjoying salmon custom smoked from Hardy Buoys. People were inquiring on how they could get their hands on some of our smoked salmon, but did not have any fish of their own to have custom smoked? So Bruce, always looking for the next opportunity began buying commercially caught salmon and smoking it for sale out of his tiny location.
Demand for Bruce’s smoked salmon was overwhelming, and by September of 1994 Bruce decided to take his smoked salmon on the road. Knocking on doors of distributors, restaurants, and stores. By the second year in business, Hardy Buoys Smoked Fish was selling into major grocery store chains on Vancouver Island, and what had started out as a seasonal business was now year round, supplying product for wholesale.
By 1999, Hardy Buoys had outgrown its tiny location, and plans began for a larger facility. In Nov. 1999, Hardy Buoys moved into a newly renovated 7000 sq foot facility, they thought they would never outgrow!
As the years went on, Hardy Buoys enjoyed steady growth, and ever increasing addition of space into more and more of the building they were leasing in.
By 2008, demand forced a major expansion once again. Bruce and Carol purchased the 50,000 square foot building they were operating out of. Hardy Buoys now operates out of 27,000 sq. feet, with the remainder of the 50,000 sq feet being used as warehouse space.
Although Hardy Buoys Smoked Fish has grown as one of the most recognizable smoked salmon brands on Vancouver Island, and their hot smoked is hailed as #1 in its category.
Bruce and Carol have always been deeply connected to their small community. Having raised 3 children in Port Hardy. Bruce spent a lot of his time as a volunteer soccer, and hockey coach. Carol sat on many committees for community events and organized sports. Bruce and Carol have transferred their passion for giving back to the community into the workplace. Hardy Buoys sponsors local sporting teams and youth organizations. Hardy Buoys has implemented a Community Action Plan that has each of their 75 employees ensuring that Hardy Buoys has a presence at every community event, and the employees volunteer their personal time to take part in such events as Relay for Life, and Cops for Cancer on behalf of the company.
Since 1994, Hardy Buoys has helped an entire spin off industry from what they created as a way to cater to the sports fishers needs. Over the years charter boat operators, lodges, and even local hotels and restaurants enjoy an increased business largely due to the fact that people continue to visit the North end of Vancouver Island, because their catch can be properly taken care of. Although custom processing of sports caught fish is now only approx… 8% of the annual revenue stream, Hardy Buoys opens a special division each year from mid June to mid Sept. to continue to cater to the needs of those fishing and visiting in the community.
Hardy Buoys Smoked Fish employs 65 people year round for its wholesale and commercial business, expanding to 75 in the summer months to look after the sport fishing clientele. Hardy Buoys also maintains a well stocked retail outlet with factory direct pricing.
Hardy Buoys products can be found in major grocery store chains across Canada. The facility is federally licensed, Kosher and HACCP approved.
Hardy Buoys Smoked Fish Inc. is a member of a member of the Canada Brand Strategy, products can be traced using the This Fish Traceability Program. Many of the Hardy Buoys Smoked Fish products proudly display membership to The Sea Choice Program and The Vancouver Aquariums Ocean Wise Program.
The employees of Hardy Buoys are dedicated to producing the highest quality products, following the highest standards for food safety.
“Invaluable People Producing Value Added Products”