Young Entrepreneur Award goes to RJ Taylor

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RJ Taylor won the Young Entrepreneur Award, as part of the Hanover Chamber of Commerce Awards, for managing and growing his family businesses, Cedar Crest Trout Farm and Springhills Fish.

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“It’s a huge honor to be recognized by our home community, although I have to say I feel like I take credit for all the amazing work my family and team do in the farms,” Taylor said.

A few years ago, Taylor and her sister took over the management of their family fish farm, Cedar Crest Trout Farm. Taylor is credited with the rapid growth of the company.

“My parents started this business with one farm in 1995. Today we’ve grown to five farms, raising salmon, trout and char,” Taylor explained. “During the pandemic, we also opened a processing plant and now deliver fish to over 1,500 homes across Ontario each month under the name Springhills Fish.”

Owning and operating a business can be continuous work with spontaneous challenges, Taylor said, but teamwork is key to business success.

“My favorite thing about my job is working with my family and my team every day. This growth has only been possible because of everyone on our team who shares their ideas, works so hard and motivates us and makes us laugh,” said Taylor.

Taylor and her sister Arlen originally left the Hanover area when they were 18, swearing they would not return.

“It took 10 years for each of us to realize how amazing it was where we grew up and how progressive, sustainable and fun fish farming can be,” Taylor said. “A particular joy of a family business is that there is room for people like my father, Jim, to share his experience and advice, even though he can no longer work on the farm.”

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In addition to managing and growing his family business, Taylor is also the Executive Director of the Ontario Aquaculture Association. According to the OAA website, the membership organization represents over 95% of the aquaculture industry in Ontario.

Taylor’s supporters say he is beginning to be recognized in the aquaculture community as a force for good.

Taylor believes fish farming benefits both humans and wild fish.

“Decades of research show that farms in Ontario — land and net pens — are actually helping to increase wild fish populations,” Taylor said. “Farmed fish can be one of the most environmentally friendly proteins to add to your plate. You know exactly where this fish comes from, what it ate and how it was raised.

When buying fish for food, Taylor believes it’s important to focus on where and how a fish was raised.

“I always recommend asking if the fish is eco-certified and local. Eco-certification means an auditor is on hand to check everything, and buying local takes you away from a suspicious international supply chain,” Taylor said.

Taylor welcomes visitors to the Allan Park Fish Farm where they take a self-guided tour.