When Stewart Dueck and his wife, Loressa Champagne, moved to Nanaimo in 2019, they didn’t imagine that salmon fishing would pave the way for the next chapter in their business.

Upon landing in Nanaimo, Stewart and Loressa found there were no CNC machine shops able to create made-to-order products for professional clients in the area. Taking it upon themselves to fill this gap in the market, they opened Dueck Manufacturing, a full-service custom metal and plastic fabrication shop. Dueck Manufacturing uses a CNC machine to transform hardened metal and Teflon plastic into custom parts for the medical field, marine sector, and beyond. CNC machines allow tools like lathes, drills, and milling machines to be controlled by a computer, cutting and finishing three-dimensional parts consistently and accurately. Client requests range from a single prototype to a high-volume order, and Dueck Manufacturing can do it all.

Casting for advice

As Stewart and Loressa began to explore all that Nanaimo had to offer, they picked up a new hobby: salmon fishing. Being business minded, they quickly identified an opportunity for Dueck Manufacturing to produce and sell their own line of fishing products, uniting hobby and skill to address yet another gap in the market.

Dueck Manufacturing was well-equipped to produce a new line of fishing equipment, having developed many unique products for their wide range of clients. Market research showed potential demand in Canada and the United States, however crossing borders was entirely new to Stewart and Loressa. As a local shop primarily dedicated to contract work in Nanaimo, exploring new markets and understanding how best to approach exporting would require some expertise.

When Stewart connected with a friend to discuss this dilemma, he was directed to Export Navigator for support and guidance. Soon, Stewart and Loressa were introduced to export advisor, Brady Calancie. “Brady has been great for giving us direction in our next steps when I feel overwhelmed,” says Stewart.

Learning the ropes

After Dueck Manufacturing had set their eyes on the wider Canadian and American markets, the challenge was identifying retailers in those regions and ensuring their product could be safely exported. Brady invited Stewart to Export Navigator webinars to begin demystifying the export process.

As Dueck Manufacturing’s future became clear, Brady helped Stewart to prepare business plans and financial projections to plot the company’s growth. Feeling confident in the business’s growth strategy, Stewart and Loressa are ready to move forward. “I now have a much clearer idea of which markets I need to hit to ensure steady growth and what I will need to do to ensure success,” shares Stewart.

Though Dueck Manufacturing has yet to begin the process of exporting, the preparatory work completed with Brady has made it possible for Stewart to explore hiring a new employee in the coming year.

Stewart recommends Export Navigator to any business considering growing their business, regardless of what stage of the planning process they are in. “Don’t hesitate to ask them anything!” encourages Stewart. “Your first questions might not be directly related to exporting, but if that is your end goal, Export Navigator is there to help!”

Brady Calancie