Hardy Buoys has a brand new machine that will help the company hit its daily production goals.
“It’s an automated bagger, which gives us accurate weights up to 35 packages a minute,” said company owner Bruce Dirom. “Normally it would take eight people to produce 1,000 lbs of product over two days, but now we can do the same amount in a matter of hours.”
Hardy Buoys Smoked Fish Inc. has been in business in Port Hardy for 27 years now. It was founded in 1994 by Dirom and his wife Carol.
As for their product, Dirom said they use “all species of salmon, but primarily this machine is being brought in to take care of our farmed Atlantic salmon — that’s just a certain market we have where our highest demand is right now.”
It’s been a tough go as of late due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and there has been a real shortage in available employees in the North Island that has been affecting the majority of local businesses.
“Right now we have a real bottleneck in the packaging room,” confirmed Dirom. “We can’t get enough employees in this town to do the work so we opted to go to automation. Nobody is losing their jobs over this though, we still have lots of opportunities here at Hardy Buoys.”
He added they are actually looking for about 15 more people at the moment, and there’s “going to be work that needs to be done by hand still.”
The reality of the situation is, with automation, the company can simply cut, smoke and bag far more fish in a day than it used to.
“We started installing the machine back in September, but we were waiting for tech services to fine tune it, and we’re just really starting to run it now, this week will be our first official commercial run,” Dirom said, adding it can be operated with four employees and “runs about 35 packages a minute … The best we ever did before with 14 people was 3,500 packages, and this machine will do 10,000 packages per day.”
Hardy Buoys 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.
The smoked fish product is available locally at the following stores:
Save On Foods;
Co-op gas station;
Petrocan in Port McNeill; and
Shop.hardybuoys.com – ship anywhere in North America.