When the going gets tough, the tough go for a dip

TRAVERSE CITY – What do you do when you're running a Traverse City-based automotive executive recruiting company in this grim economy?

You get creative, pretty darn quick.

Cheryl and Bob Icard, who've run the The Icard Group for 20 years, literally used a dream to inspire them to launch their latest venture – Bob's West Bay Pate'.

"In December, we saw a Fox News story about a man who was laid off as a successful mortgage broker," recalls Cheryl. "He couldn't find a job, so he asked himself, 'What what am I good at? Do I have passion for doing it? Can I believe in myself?' He decided to start a shoeshine stand and months later he ended up with 15 shoeshine stands. His advice was to not think of yourself as a failure just because you got laid off, but to concentrate on what you're good at. Can you have passion doing it? Can you follow through and believe in yourself?

"After hearing this story and praying for guidance on what to do about finding something we are good at, I went to bed and awoke from a dream with an answer: Smoked Salmon Pate!"

Cheryl and Bob had always thought about selling it because for the last 30 years their family and friends have enjoyed Bob's recipe, saying his pate' is delicious and asking, 'Why doesn't he sell it?"

The Icards have dabbled in other several other businesses over the years, but none involved food products.

"We agreed that we could be passionate about it," says Bob. "We would work hard at it and we could believe in our product, and ourselves. But how do we get it manufactured?"

They immediately began searching for manufacturers and found Scott Zagers of Zagolli's Dips & Spreads, in Elk Rapids.

"Scott has been a wealth of information and a tremendous help," explains Bob. "With Scott's help and a lot of hard work, we are now producing Bob's West Bay Smoked Salmon and Smoked Whitefish Pate'."

While many pates rely heavily on creamed cheese, Bob's products are more than 60 percent fish, giving it a tasty advantage over the competition. In fact, he doesn't use cream cheese at all. Twenty pounds of fish, along with 11 other ingredients, make up a typical 31-pound batch of pate'. The 5-ounce packages retail for $5.99.

Launched in December, the company was taste testing the two pates in the Traverse City area by mid-January, and the results were positive.

'We've always believed that if you taste it, you'll buy it," says Bob, with a laugh. "It's fun to watch peoples' faces as they try it. Their eyes get big, they smile and say 'Hey, this is really good.'"

Locally, the company's Smoked Salmon Pate' and Smoked Whitefish Pate' are available at Oleson's, Ric's Family Market, Hansen's Market in Suttons Bay, Peninsula Market and The Cook's House.

"We're now in the process of placing both products in outlets around the area and are working toward expanding out to many other cities in Michigan and other states, like California," says Bob.

The Icards offer a positive message for those who are thinking about launching a new enterprise during this grim economy.

"It's not impossible for someone to defeat the bad economy with a great deal of faith, enthusiasm and passion to move ahead and be successful," says Cheryl. "During these trying times you need to fight back with a positive mind on what you can do well and what you have a passion for."

For more information, contact the Icards at (231) 929-2196 or email Cheryl@theicardgroup.com. The company is in the process of setting up its web site. BN