During his two decades serving as a business mentor and coach, Rhéal Savoie’s passion to build his own business began.
“Working in economic development I gained a real admiration for the men and women taking risks, employing people, and making things happen in the province,” says Savoie. “I wanted to be a part of it; I wanted to be known as a businessman.”
In 1995, against the advice of many, he quit a well-paying job, borrowed nearly a million dollars, and purchased a small business in Bouctouche. Twenty-three years later, Bouctouche Bay Industries (BBI Group), has grown to more than 50 employees and diversified its product offerings.
In time for BDC Small Business Week, ONB spoke to Savoie to learn more about this New Brunswick success story.
ONB: What does BBI Group do?
Savoie: We’re a manufacturing company. When we began in the ’90s we were focused on lobster traps and buoys for the commercial fishing industry. Over the years we’ve added plastic injection moulding (via BBI Plastics) and OysterGro®, a complete farming solution for oyster aquaculture. We’re extremely proud of the decades of growth we’ve seen across all four divisions and our ability to consistently surpass our clients’ expectations.
Tell us a bit about the relationship between BBI Group and ONB.
We have an excellent relationship with ONB. They’re always there to provide us with guidance and technical advice, and to act as a great sounding board for our ideas. What’s great is ONB has a full view of what’s happening provincewide. We can sit with ONB any time and discuss our projects and where we want to go and the support is always tremendous. Whether it’s adding new products or launching new projects or expanding into U.S. or European markets, we know we can count on ONB to help.
It’s not just about financing either, although that’s part of it. It’s about the other forms of support, and that often includes moral support. It’s not always easy running a business, and that support is needed.
It’s Small Business Week. What’s your best advice for small business owners in the province?
About six years ago, I was extremely frustrated. I was largely a one-man show. I was handling the bookkeeping, entering orders, making deliveries, operating a forklift, and more. Not only was I letting business opportunities slip by because I was so busy, but I was also in danger of ruining my health.
I hired a consultant because I was just about ready to throw in the towel. We looked at the company, both the good and the areas where we could improve. Put bluntly, I was the problem. I was trying to do everything. We concluded that I could sell the company and walk away, change nothing and continue to stagnate, or start building a team.
Building that team was the best decision I ever made. I found fantastic people to work with and for me. We’ve grown fourfold in the last five years alone, and it’s all down to hiring the right team.
If people want to keep their businesses as a mom-and-pop type operation that’s fine, but if you see real potential for growth you really do need that team with you. Once you’ve got that support you’d be surprised the opportunities that are out there that you’ll now have time to focus on. I guess my best advice is to never look at building a team as an expense, it’s an investment – the best one you’ll ever make.
Learn more about the company at www.bbigroup.ca.
ONB helps existing businesses in New Brunswick reach the next level of success. Whether you’re a startup, an established company, or an export-focused business, we’ll help you find the new markets, resources, and talents you need to grow. Contact us today.
Written by Jason Boies
Cover image via BBI Group