It was his “eureka” moment. Brendan Syrette was lugging ice fishing gear across a frozen lake. The equipment was bulky, the snow was deep and rods kept falling to the ground. After the outing, he started searching for a superior product. “I soon realized there was nothing better available for the avid angler,” said Brendan. “I also realized that, if I created something, it could really be a niche product.”
This laid the seed for what was to become an invention and business. In 2011, Brendan began making his own ice fishing gear. A carpenter by trait, he designed and built a small, easy-to-carry rod holder, an apparatus to generate a more efficient ice fishing experience. For a few years, it was more of a hobby. Brendan would make a few holders here and there for himself, along with family and friends. But word of the product quickly spread, to a point where a prime opportunity presented itself.
“I was up on the scaffolding one day doing some carpentry work on a house, and I made the decision, right then and there, to formally proceed with a business,” said Brendan. “That was a few years ago, and I haven’t looked back.” And so became Black Fox Fishing. The company manufactures The Trigger. Featuring a snap-trigger mechanism, it aides in the overall ice fishing experience.
Before formalizing the company and bringing his product to market, Brendan first met with the enterprise services team at the Sault Ste. Marie Economic Development Corporation. Together, they worked on a business plan, financing options and other start-up matters. “The help I received from the EDC was terrific, and the assistance was very much appreciated,” he said. “I’m very happy to have such great local support.”
This past summer, Brendan enrolled in Starter Company Plus, a small business support program administered in the region by the Sault Ste. Marie Economic Development Corporation. Funded by the Province of Ontario, the program provides entrepreneurs with training, mentoring and access to grants.
Today, Black Fox Fishing has five production workers and three administrative staff. The company imports parts from across Ontario and assembles everything together at its location in Batchewana First Nation. Products and services from a number of local firms are used in the manufacturing process. “We have a great team,” said Brendan. “We’ve been very fortunate in that regard.”
The Trigger is available for purchase online at www.blackfoxfishing.com. It can also be bought at the company’s storefront at 103 Metig Street. As well, the product will soon be offered at retail locations across Canada. In the short term, Brendan plans on implementing a full-time production crew to manufacture 100,000 units for 2018-19 season. After that, the sky’s the limit.
“Brendan’s entrepreneurial spirit is second to none,” said Zoltan Virag, Manager of Small Business Advisory Services for the Sault Ste. Marie Economic Development Corporation. “He has spent countless weeks, days and hours developing and redeveloping his invention over the past few years, and he’s now on the cusp of taking his product to the national retailer level. It has been an extreme pleasure to work with Brendan, and I look forward to continuing to work with him and seeing the company grow in the months and years to come.”
The Sault Ste. Marie Economic Development Corporation delivers Starter Company Plus and other small business support programs at the Millworks – Centre for Entrepreneurship. For more information, visit www.themillworks.ca. Also online: www.sault-canada.com.