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Feature on Clearwater Seafoods

Friday, May 23, 2014

Recently, Nova Scotia Business Inc. spoke with a team from Clearwater Seafoods, including CEO Ian Smith, about their experiences as a Nova Scotia exporter. Here is what they have to say about their history in the province, the transformation the company began in 2010, and the keys to their success.

Q: Can you talk about your success in Nova Scotia and why you chose to do business from Nova Scotia?
A: Nova Scotia is an excellent place to be located for a world leader in seafood; we have bountiful resources at our doorstep with a long and proud workforce experienced with seafood. In Nova Scotia we have access to transportation centres like the Halifax sea port and airport giving us the ability to ship our products around the world.

Clearwater markets its diverse menu of seafood products throughout North America, Europe, and Asia. The company has annual sales in the vicinity of $388 million, and has an important economic footprint in Nova Scotia through direct payroll, and procurement of goods and services from Nova Scotia companies. Clearwater is a significant employer in rural Nova Scotia as well as in metro Halifax employing 1,025 Nova Scotians across the province — many of whom have been with the company for over 20 years.  It is the employees at Clearwater that directly affect how successful the company is.

Q: What advice would you give to other Nova Scotia companies looking outside of the borders for growth?
A: Over the last 5 years Clearwater has been very focused on our six core business strategies;

1.    Expand access to supply
2.    Target profitable and growing markets, channels and customers
3.    Position products to deliver superior customer satisfaction and value
4.    Increase margins by improving price realization and cost management
5.    Preserve the long-term sustainability of resources
6.    Build organizational capability and capacity

The focus of these strategies is to connect consumers with our product and have them identify its superior quality. For the past 10 years we’ve been focused on getting closer to the end consumer in North America and we've seen our business blossom in both the food service and retail segments. It wasn't that long ago that Clearwater would sell products to importers and traders. However, in building relationships with the best retailers, restaurants and food service distributors, Clearwater's brand has gained recognition as the best of breed for products we supply so we know that getting closer to the consumer is the right strategy

In China and Europe, we are extremely focused on customer service and helping our customers develop their markets in Asia.  We know our products are of superior quality and we work very closely with our clients to ensure our knowledge is passed along to them.  We help our customers grow by providing support via market studies and sales training. Clearwater continues to increase its presence in China by using a localized growth strategy and differentiating ourselves through the education of local influencers, customized marketing activities, and customer development.

Q: What does being recognized by your local business community mean to your business and your employees?
A: The nomination is affirmation that Clearwater is on the right track in business performance with the transformation plan we launched in 2010. The prospects for growth in our industry look very good, particularly so for companies like us that are vertically integrated. We set clear targets about what we want to achieve in each aspect of our business and our employees execute with excellence. With 1,500 employees around the world and a goal of reaching $500 million in annual sales in the next five years, the future does look bright.

Q: What do you consider will be key to your success going forward?
A: At Clearwater, it’s all about the people. We may be a small company by international standards, but our people are world class. The secret is in our values; Character, Competence and Teamwork, coupled with having a passion for, and knowing that we can be the best in the world at wild, sustainable seafood excellence.