To understand the beginning of Banner Smoked Fish, you may think that the story begins in February of 1988. But, you'd be wrong. The story of Banner Smoked Fish and the founding of Banner Smoked Fish begins many years before that with a young boy named Avi (Abraham) Attias.
Avi was born in Scranton, PA and moved around a few times as a child. At the age of 10 years old his parents decided to move to Israel. Now, naturally as an American boy, living in a different country where you don't speak the language came as a challenge. Avi wanted out, and by the age of 14 he picked himself up and left Israel to come back to New York where he settled in Queens by himself.
Later, he started bagging groceries and did some other odd jobs just to make a quick buck and to pay his rent. But, much to his advantage, his father called and told him that unless he learns a trade, or a business, he might as well come back to Israel; because if that supermarket closes, him bagging groceries means nothing and he would be nothing. With that mindset, and not wanting to go back to Israel he began working at a printing press while learning the intricacies of the business. However, after a year or so of working there the printing press business started to die down as computers and automation began taking over the business.
At the age of 16 he heard about an opportunity to drive a van for a company called Nova Scotia Food Products, a well known smoked fish company with a big presence in the tri-state area. He drove around to customers, making deliveries for weeks and months on end until his father decided enough was enough and it was time for him to come back to Israel. At the end of that summer, 1986, Avi found himself ready to leave the company and go back home to Israel. But, almost miraculously and unfortunately; an opportunity arose that would change his life forever.
The owner of Nova Scotia was legally blind; Mr. Sklar, or "Old man Sklar" was not able to drive himself so he employed his own driver to take him around. The day before Avi was supposed to fly back to Israel, Mr. Sklar's driver got into an unfortunate car accident and passed away. The Sklar family in a panic in who would look after their fathers needs turned to Avi and offered him the position of Mr. Sklar's personal driver. Avi quickly accepted the role and stayed in America.
After months of driving Mr. Sklar around he quickly fell in love with Avi's personality and brought him into the plant to teach him more about operations and how to cut, cure, and smoke the fish. He sat quietly, listened, learned, and absorbed everything that Mr. Sklar and his company had to teach him and at the end of 1987 the company was sold and Avi went to work for the new owners. After a few months of working for the new company he decided it wasn't for him and with a small loan from a friend, Banner Smoked Fish was founded in February of 1988.
Since then, we have grown from a nascent company to a major national brand producing close to 2 million pounds of fish per year, servicing close to 4,000 locations, employing close to 80 people, delivering to 20+ states, extending two generations, and making millions of people happy each year.
It's safe to say that from a great story comes a great company. We're extremely proud of what we've accomplished, and what the future holds. Follow us on our journey and watch what comes next!
Avi, Alan, and the entire Banner Smoked Fish team!