BC Business Magazine

The Opportunis­t

Tri-star Seafood Supply Ltd., Richmond


SPECIALTY: Live, fresh and frozen crab, cod, prawns and other seafood, nearly all of it Ocean Wise– certified FOUNDED: 1979 EXPORTING SINCE: 1981 PROPORTION OF TOTAL SALES FROM EXPORTS: About 75 per cent THE STORY SO FAR: Founder Claude Tchao started out by tapping what was then a niche market, storing live seafood in his daughters' wading pool and distributi­ng it to local restaurant­s in a rented truck. Tchao built a processing plant, and Tri-star soon went nationwide and began shipping to the U.S.

The Hong Kong native then turned to Southeast Asia. “He saw an opportunit­y that people over there loved eating freshest-ofthe-fresh seafood,” says business developmen­t manager Evelyn Tchao, his daughter. “He basically exported his first shipment, and that was it— we just continued.”

Today, Tri-star's markets include Europe as well as China, Malaysia and Vietnam. The 30-employee company is known throughout Southeast Asia for its packaging, which keeps mortality rates low, Tchao explains. “We pay a lot of attention to live seafood and how to make sure, at the end of the day, when we put it onto somebody else's table across the sea, that it's live.” TOP EXPORT CHALLENGE: “Sometimes the laws are different, so we have to make sure that each product can go into that country, and they all have different tariffs and whatnot,” Tchao says. “Even though it's legal here doesn't mean it's necessaril­y OK over there.” WHAT'S NEXT: CETA will create more opportunit­ies for Tri-star, Tchao believes: “We see a rise in consumptio­n across the board.”

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