After years spent developing his ice fishing device The Trigger, Brendan Syrette was browsing the aisles at Canadian Tire one day when he came face to face with his own product. For the self-described "bushman," seeing his vision come to life, available for sale at one of Canada's most iconic retailers, was an indescribable moment.
"I'm standing in Canadian Tire and I'm staring at The Trigger on the shelf, and I'm just--I don't even know what to say," recalled Syrette. "For one, it really humbles me, and two, it's exciting."
The Trigger holds an ice fishing rod and, when positioned properly, helps set a hook to aid in catching fish. Its simple design, comprised of steel pipe, moulded plastic and a metal pin, has struck a chord with ice fishers across North America.
It had already been available for sale online and through a handful of local retailers, gaining notoriety amongst aficionados as a tried-and-true method for catching more fish. But following some local media attention, the device's popularity skyrocketed, and that's when Canadian Tire came calling.
The Trigger was approved for listing with the retail giant last year, first appearing in five stores. Demand quickly outpaced supply, and Syrette and his small crew of family and friends worked frantically to keep up with requests, assembling units at his modest shop in the Blue Heron Industrial Park on the Batchewana First Nation.
"With Canadian Tire (in Sault Ste. Marie), we dropped off 45 in the morning, and that evening they were calling us and asking us for more," Syrette said.
Sales were equally brisk at local retailers like Joe's Sports and Surplus, which sold 19 Triggers in one day.
To date, Syrette's company, Black Fox Fishing, has sold 5,000 units--they retail for $37.95--which are shipped right across Canada and the U.S.
Growing up in Batchewana First Nation, Syrette has spent his whole life exploring the outdoors. He found traditional ice fishing gear bulky, heavy and hard to lug onto the ice, and so several years ago, he set about creating an alternative that was light, affordable, and easy to use.
There have been challenges along the way, but Syrette said he consulted with Elders to put him on the right path, and mentorship and resources from organizations like the Sault Ste. Marie Innovation Centre and the Blue Heron Industrial Park have been crucial in getting to this point.
"I could picture this when I first got into this, but it was so far out of my reach," he said...