Clearwater’s John Risley’s next big move

John Risley’s first business breakthrough came from selling gnarly crustaceans whose shells and claws contain the juiciest, tastiest meat in the sea.

And yet, the man who built Halifax’s Clearwater Seafoods Inc. into a dominant shellfish supplier is lunching today on the blandest of food — plain omelette, no cheese — and, astonishingly, no seafood. Mr. Risley is in a Toronto restaurant and he is, as always, in a rush, which means no chance to indulge in his favorite fare of seafood and salad.

Risley clearly pays a lot of attention to diet, for he is as lean and hungry as 40 years ago, when he and his brother-in-law Colin MacDonald were selling lobsters out of the back of a rented pick-up on Halifax’s Bedford Highway. Since then, he has amassed a fortune estimated at about CAD 1 billion — and has remained the major shareholder in Clearwater through rough times and, more recently, much clearer sailing.

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