Food In Canada

Who’s Who 2023: Sam Cheaib, founder, Lagoon Seafood

By Treena Hein   

Food In Canada Editor pick lagoon seafood Quebec Who's Who

Sam Cheaib and his children are aggressively moving Lagoon Seafood to the centre of the Canadian seafood map

Sam Cheaib with this daughter Amanda and son Michael. Photo © Lagoon Seafood

Positivity, passion, and perseverance—these are among the top values Sam Cheaib has demonstrated for 30 years as he led the expansion of Lagoon Seafood from Quebec to the rest of the country.

He also passes on these values to his children, two of whom are active in the business. His son Michael Cheaib is Lagoon Seafood’s business resource manager, and his daughter Amanda Cheaib manages analytical technology and manufacturing processes. But all three of them, along with other family members, are also taste testers as new value-added Lagoon products enter the market.

Sam started the business in 1992 as a small fish-selling operation. His natural curiosity to see where his efforts led and a desire to build a bigger venture caused him to diversify offerings. 

“He came from Lebanon where there are many varieties of fish and he saw that there was a gap in Montreal,” explains Michael. “He was inspired to take action, and the rest is history”.

Sam started with small warehousing and distribution activities. Fast forward 30 years, Lagoon has BRC-certified processing plants and warehouses in Lachine and Granby, Que.

In Granby, a lab for new product development was also added in 2019. There, food scientists and chefs are hard at work every day to expand the value-added line.

“We have about 20 items now and we are working on many more,” says Michael. “Overall, we have farmed and wild-caught products, frozen and fresh, foodservice, and retail. This flexibility has been a great strength for us. We import from many countries around the world, process, and package here, but our biggest pride is making and distributing Canadian products.”

With the value-added products, the goal is to make those taste like they are homemade. Lagoon also sells gourmet appetizers and meals, such as tuna tartar, octopus rolls and fish bites in many flavours.

“Our team has put in so much effort, a lot of passion, and energy into every single product,” says Michael. “It’s a fun process with trial and error, but it’s a great feeling when you get it right. We develop our own products specifically for our customers. We appreciate our interactions with them and producing something they’ve envisioned. We’re trying to be a one-stop shop of product development, manufacturing, and distribution.”

As the company moves forward, Michael says Sam continues to be a strong and inspiring leader. “There are always challenges in business, but he shows us how to persevere and deliver a vision,” he says. “It’s thanks to him that I’m loving this business. He has always given us the space to learn, ask questions, and grow. It’s been a very positive experience.” 

Editor’s note: Due to scheduling conflicts, Sam Cheaib wasn’t available for an interview.

This article was originally published in the April/May 2023 issue of Food in Canada.

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