Rob Tryon grew up in a family of west coast fishermen. After studying aquaculture and fisheries at Vancouver Island University, he became an oyster farmer, planting and harvesting bivalvian crops just west of Ucluelet, in Effingham Inlet. It was this inlet that inspired him to name his company, Effing Seafoods.
That name is gold, and Tryon knows it. His postings on Twitter and Facebook contain hashtags with effing this, and effing that in the quip. It’s a name that raises eyebrows, but it’s also a name that no one can forget. The moment he joined Twitter in 2011, people started taking notice and business boomed.
And then it bust.
“I had a lot of changes all at once, and I needed to hit the restart button on my life. I came to Alberta, like many people from the island, to work in the oilfield,” Tryon said.
Tryon had no experience or education in the trades, but he had a good work ethic and willingness to learn. He quickly advanced up the pipeline ladder, and moved from camp to camp. Money gave him security, but it didn’t compensate for what he needed most – more time with his kids. On a long road trip back to the island, he knew things had to change.
“I didn’t see my kids for four months. I had a lot of time to contemplate life on that drive home, and by the time I hit Valemount, I knew what I was going to do,” he recalled.
That day was the day Tryon declared himself back in the business of selling seafood — but this time, he’d do it in Edmonton. Seafood on the coast is an easy sell. But convincing land-locked Albertans to view oysters as the other white meat could prove to be a hard hook to set.
Armed with social mediums, he sought out some Edmonton food scene folks and introduced himself. In less than 24 hours, he was tied in so securely it made his head swim. And he’s hardly come up for air since; chefs were very interested in sustainable seafood shipped within 48 hours of being caught.
Tryon has since added Acadian Sturgeon products from New Brunswick, but the majority of his shellfish and seafood comes from Canada’s west coast. Business has increased exponentially since he anchored in Edmonton. Effing Seafood now receives several shipments a week containing prawns, salmon, tuna, cod, and various in-season seafood.
“Oysters are an experience,” Tryon said with reverence. “It’s about flavour: how and where they’re grown, the size of the oyster, the salinity, the species and the freshwater influence.”
Selling seafood brings great joy to Tryon, but the highlights of his life are his two girls, Sierra and Savana.
When they visit, the girls help sell seafood at farmers’ markets, and ride along with their dad on deliveries. When Tryon is busy shucking oysters, the girls help out with customers picking up on the storytelling where their father leaves off. It’s obvious these pearls haven’t fallen far from the shell.
“Many people want to know where their food comes from, and I want to be the one to tell them,” he said.