The new owners of O’Neil Fisheries plan to have work at the fishplant ‘most every day’.
Scotia Harvest Seafoods Inc of Lower West Pubnico has bought both the fish plant in Digby and the harvesting division M & P Fisheries Limited after more than a year of working together with O’Neil’s.
Jean Guy d’Entremont and his sons Alain, Gilles and Raymond own and operate Scotia Harvest.
They have a fleet of groundfish trawlers based in Pubnico; they fish all around Nova Scotia, including Cape Breton and spend a lot of time on George’s Bank. But until this deal, Scotia Harvest had no fish plant.
Alain, the new chief operating officer in Digby says the acquisition will help both sides of the business.
“This will give our harvesters some comfort knowing they have a home for their fish,” says Alain. “And it will give the people at the plant some comfort knowing we have a stable supply of raw material.”
He says the biggest change people will notice in Digby is more continuous activity at the fish plant.
“We have been a harvesting company without a home,” says Alain, who lives in Yarmouth and has been working out of the Digby office for the last month. “We will be able to put more raw material through the plant in Digby and we should be able to maintain full work weeks, which has been a challenge here in the past.”
The Digby company will keep its name, O’Neil Fisheries Limited, and will continue to market under the Royal Fundy brand.
Tom O’Neil started O’Neil’s in 1984 after buying out C.D. Snow. The plant was a lobster pound when he bought it but they expanded it into scallops and groundfish and acquired a fleet.
Coincidentally, Tom’s father George ran a fish plant in Pubnico that was later run by Alain’s great grandfather.
George returned to Digby in 1962 and ran a fish plant on Birch Street.
Tom is happy to see his family business go to another family business.
“And I’m happy to see it staying in Digby,” says Tom. “This will mean prosperity for Digby and beyond. The business is a lot more than it was yesterday and it was pretty significant yesterday.”
Tom will stay on as an advisor and his daughter Laure will retain her position as sales manager.
Alain says they don’t have any plans to make changes to the scallop fleet or the people who work for O’Neil’s.
“The people here are the people we want to keep working with,” says Alain. “O’Neil’s has a solid reputation, great contacts and that was all part of the deal.”
He also says there is no need to fear they will up and move the business.
“I've never heard anyone refer to ‘World Famous Pubnico Scallops’,” he said in answer to a question from the Courier. “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.
“We see this as a very good fit and believe that by bringing a fresh long-term vision that we can not only maintain but improve upon their current operations while enhancing our own,” says Alain. “We very much look forward to working with all the employees who we have been impressed with throughout this whole acquisition process."