Brendan Syrette never intended to be selling an invention of his own in the Sault and area (and, he hopes, across Canada).
But that is what has happened after Syrette, a carpenter by trade, put his mind and hands to work to solve a problem for ice fishermen.
“I love inventing things,” said Syrette, raised in Garden River First Nation, and now owner/operator of his own manufacturing company known as Black Fox Fishing at 103 Metig Street in Batchewana First Nation.
“It’s just the way my mind works. I see an issue and I feel I need to fix it, so that’s how the Trigger came about,” Syrette said, speaking to SooToday.
The Trigger began in 2011 as a small, easy to carry fishing rod holder for ice fishing enthusiasts which Syrette made, first using it for himself, then making a few others for his family and circle of friends.
“We all had the same issue. What do we put our fishing rods in?” Syrette said, recalling his days of carrying ice fishing gear across frozen lakes, the equipment bulky, the snow deep, the rods falling to the ground.
Now, the Trigger has morphed into what Syrette calls “an ice fishing rod holder/hook setter,” a device made of plastic and metal (the first prototype was made of wood).
“Set it and forget it. If you want to catch bigger, use the Trigger,” Syrette chuckled.
“You just set it up and wander around if you want, and then once it goes the excitement starts,” freeing the ice fisherman from sitting and waiting for long periods of time for fish to take the bait.
“You can jig with one rod and have a still line set with the Trigger,” Syrette explained.
The Triggers are set to be sold at the Sault’s Canadian Tire store on McNabb Street soon, with the hope of eventually being able to sell them at Canadian Tire outlets nationwide.
The Trigger will also soon be featured in Outdoor Canada, a national fishing and hunting magazine.
Syrette took the Trigger to the Sault Ste. Marie Economic Development Corporation (SSMEDC), which delivers Starter Company Plus and other small business support programs at the Millworks Centre for Entrepreneurship.
While there is machinery involved, the Trigger is essentially hand made, with each unit personally inspected by Syrette.
With a volunteer crew for now, Syrette has plans to hire as many as five production workers and three administrative staff at Black Fox Fishing.
His goal is for he and his team to manufacture 15,000 to 20,000 Trigger units this season, “and next season we’re going to be really jumping up those numbers.”
So, how did the Trigger go from a home made invention to a more widely-marketed retail item?
Deciding to take a chance as an entrepreneur, Syrette said “I went for a ride up to Thunder Bay in the middle of winter with my trunk full of Triggers and I figured I would try my luck and stop at all the fishing stores on the way up and see what would happen.”
In the course of his travels, Syrette met Ed Dzyngel, the owner of Ed’s Live Bait in White River.
“He’s kind of like the godfather of fishing,” Syrette said.
“I introduced myself and showed him my ice fishing rod holder. I set it up on his desk and Ed turned to me and said ‘you know, in the past 40 years this is the best idea I’ve ever seen.’”
“He wanted to buy some right then and there, and that got things rolling,” Syrette said.
“I never thought it would come to wrapping up Triggers and putting instructions in boxes,” Syrette said, saying he is constantly in the process of improving the device.