Featured Businesses

Hardy Buoys Smoked Fish

Bruce and Carol Dirom

As a sport fisherman, Bruce Dirom was aware of tourists needs to store fish that they had caught that they could either pick up when they leave, or have shipped to them at a later date. This need was what led Bruce and Carol Dirom to start their own business. In 1994, with help in the form of a loan from Community Futures, Bruce and Carol founded Hardy Buoys Smoked Fish. In 1999, as their business grew, they decided to move to a bigger space. They also decided to work once again with Community Futures, which they found was easier the second time around “For the first loan, they had us jump through all kinds of hoops, but when we applied for the second loan, it was a lot easier because I guess they saw that we knew what we were doing” commented Carol. The second loan was used mainly to renovate old warehouse space into the now functional front shop and processing area.

As a federally registered and licensed business, they have rigorous standards that they must meet, and they are inspected twice each year by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Being federally registered and licensed, they are allowed to export their products to anywhere in the world. Dirom commented that although they have more than enough business on Canada’s west coast to sustain them, they regularly export their award winning candied salmon nuggets to suppliers in the United States.

Although their shop is open from 9am to 6pm, they have people working almost around the clock, with the first shift beginning at 6am and the last one ending at midnight, seven days a week in peak season. “It’s necessary to have long hours in order to complete the amount of orders that we have to fill,” Carol explained. It takes up to two days for Hardy Buoys to filet, smoke and have the fish flash frozen. During the months of May though October, Hardy Buoys processes sport fish, as well as their wholesale market, making the summer an extremely busy time.

Each year, Hardy Buoys purchases upwards of 450,000 lbs of fish from Marine Harvest. Each September, they purchase an additional 60,000 lbs of wild salmon. These purchases are used in their wholesale market, for shipments across Western Canada and into the United States. Hardy Buoys also has a private market which processes up to 500,000 lbs of fish caught though sport fishing in the summer months. Carol states “Hardy Buoys offers a very unique service to the people of the North Island. Tourists have said to me that if the facility was not available to them, they would fish somewhere else.” What started out as a two man team has grown steadily into over 20 employees. Hardy Buoys employs 12 full-time and 3 part-time employees year round, as well as seasonal employees over the busy sport-fishing season.


Hyde Creek Esso and Subway

Aaron and Ashlyne Gabrysh

Aaron Gabyrish, owner of Hyde Creek Esso and a Subway restaurant in Port McNeill, grew up in an entrepreneurial household environment, watching and learning from his dad who owned several businesses over the years.  After a few years of working for others, it was an easy decision for Aaron, and his wife Ashlyne, to jump at the opportunity to buy the Esso station and move to the North Island 5 years ago. They haven’t looked back since.

After operating the Esso station in Hyde Creek for 4 years the opportunity arose to buy the Subway in Port McNeill and once again with no hesitation, they jumped right in!  Community Futures offered an opportunity that would assist them and with rates that would make starting another business far more do-able. Still not thirty years old this couple now own and manage two thriving businesses on the North Island.

“When we purchased the Subway, we looked into the banks for assistance,” said Aaron, “but Community Futures offered local assistance that was community based, rather than a huge national corporation.”  Aaron says the key to success in business is surrounding yourself with good staff and treating them well. “It’s about open communication and sharing the success.” He and Ashlyne are completely involved in their businesses, whether its managing the books or scheduling staff like Ashlyne does, they are part of the team.  Another key to success for Aaron is “customer service.”

Aaron and Ashlyne have completely embraced the North Island and the awesome lifestyle it can offer a young family. They work their businesses hard, but they also know the importance of maintaining a good work-life balance and they both agree that the North Island has a lot to offer if you love pristine beauty and wilderness!


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Communities Served

Alert Bay, Bella Bella, Coal Harbour, Echo Bay, Holberg, Kingcome Inlet, Klemtu, Port Alice, Port Hardy, Port McNeill, Quatsino, Rivers Inlet, Shearwater, Sointula, Telegraph Cove, Winter Harbour, Woss, Zeballos


Community Futures Mount Waddington
14 - 311 Hemlock Street
Box 458
Port McNeill, BC
V0N 2R0

T: 250.956.2220
T: 877.956.2220
F: 250.956.2221