CONTINUing the FAmily Fishing TraditioN
When Dennis Gray Jr. was growing up in Hoonah, everybody was a fisherman. Family members trained younger generations, and in Dennis’s case, at age 11, his dad took him on his uncle’s boat and trained him to be a deckhand. “My family’s been in the Icy Straits area for thousands of years, harvesting salmon since the Ice Age,” he said. “I’m a third generation commercial fisherman, and I want to continue that tradition.” Dennis decided to continue his family’s traditions by becoming the captain of his own boat, so he bought a freezer troller, the F/V Pacific Hunter, and began to fish. Unfortunately, during his first year as a captain, the salmon were gone, marking the worst coho year on record. In order to keep his business afloat, Dennis turned to Spruce Root. “Spruce Root gave me a loan to allow me to operate into year two and three and, ultimately, build a more successful operation,” he said. Besides appreciating the initial loan, Dennis also valued the customer service he received at Spruce Root, describing them as “approachable.” It was important to him to use a regionally based business, and as a Tlingit, he also valued that Spruce Root was founded by a native corporation. With the jump start from Spruce Root, Dennis continues his fishing tradition. He even brings his own boys onboard, training them as fishermen and instilling his family’s culture.
Partnership with Spruce Root
Anthem Fisheries worked with Spruce Root to develop and refine their business plan, budget, and financial structure. They also received funding through Spruce Root’s business loan program.