Smooth Sailing on Lake Superior

Smooth Sailing on Lake Superior

Patience and the love for sailing coupled with the support from the Northern Ontario Heritage Fund Corporation (NOHFC) has helped Greg Heroux, the founder of Sail Superior, turn his hobby into a viable business.

Heroux was 10 years old when his late father introduced him to the waters of Lake Superior. While Heroux enjoyed the freedom that sailing gave him, it was much later in life that he launched an adventure company that offers a range of sailing excursions.

The opportunity arose after Heroux returned to Thunder Bay to raise his daughter, following a busy career as an international model. With the encouragement of his father, he opened Sail Superior in 2001, while working as a pipeline safety coordinator.

NOHFC steps in

Initially, Heroux bought a small boat for bed and breakfast services, and had leased another larger vessel for harbour tours. However, the lease limited what he could offer clients.

When Heroux heard the owner of the large boat was looking to sell, he turned to NOHFC. With their assistance, Heroux bought the boat in 2014. “When I got my second vessel, I was able to expand and leave all the other things behind and to do this full time,” he says. “Without NOHFC, this would have still been a part-time business.”

Sail Superior currently offers five types of services from mid-May to mid-October, including wine and cheese cruises, harbour tours, sailing lessons, big lake adventures and bareboat rentals.

Keys to success

Being patient — something he learned from his father — and educating customers as well as providing great customer service are key to building a successful service business, Heroux says.

People often think of the Caribbean or places farther away when they think of sailing, he says. It has taken him more than a decade to educate customers on the joys of sailing on Lake Superior, and to build his clientele.

That hard work has paid off, as more people are interested in trying Sail Superior’s services.

With further backing from the NOHFC, Heroux plans on buying a larger third vessel to meet his clients’ growing needs.

Sail Superior

Thunder Bay

Northern Business Opportunity Program