Photo by Maria Matson/Whidbey News Group.
                                <em>Cornet Bay Company owners Arnie and Joanne Deckwa stand with their new seafood line of sauces. In the background, painted on their RV is the company’s logo depicting Cornet Bay, the view across from their office.</em>

Photo by Maria Matson/Whidbey News Group. Cornet Bay Company owners Arnie and Joanne Deckwa stand with their new seafood line of sauces. In the background, painted on their RV is the company’s logo depicting Cornet Bay, the view across from their office.

Walmart picks up Cornet Bay Co.’s sauces

Though it’s been producing and selling gourmet sauces, dressing, seasonings and dips for more than 18 years, Oak Harbor’s Cornet Bay Co. isn’t done expanding.

The company is now selling its new line of six seafood sauces at Walmart Super Centers across 37 states.

Thirteen Walmarts in Washington state will be selling its seafood sauces, including stores in Kennewick, Arlington, Federal Way, Spokane, Tumwater and Chehalis.

Cornet Bay Co. owners Arnie and Joanne Deckwa said they’re pleased to report their sauces are selling well in the Walmarts since being introduced this past January.

Their seafood sauce line includes flavors such as lemon caper, bourbon sauce and tangy tomato.

“It’s exciting to see the whole thing come together,” Arnie Deckwa said. “Being able to work with somebody you’ve known over 30 years and trust, it’s a pretty good feeling.”

The Deckwas were contacted by a buyer from Walmart who was interested in their products.

The company had humble beginnings, over 30 years ago, when the the cowboy-hat wearing businessman transitioned successfully from singing to sauces.

Arnie moved from his home in Oak Harbor to Nashville, Tenn. in 1987 to pursue “fame and fortune” as a country and gospel songwriter and singer. He would bring his mother’s hot smoked salmon backstage at the Grand Ole Opry for his musician friends to sample.

One of the musicians told Arnie that the salmon was so good, he had to sell it commercially.

He launched a dip at Kroger stores near Nashville, and it was a hit.

Arnie’s budding company started off as a manufacturing facility in Nashville, growing over the years as he added more types of dip. Kroger sold his dips in more than 200 stores and added their own label on his products.

In 1997, he returned to Cornet Bay on North Whidbey with his new wife and business partner, Joanne. They’ve been working together ever since.

The business headquarters is located in the same home in which Arnie grew up in a family of commercial fishermen. The home has a view of Cornet Bay, which is depicted in their company’s logo.

“Everything’s been an evolution from him taking smoked salmon backstage at the Opry, to getting to know the buyers,” Joanne Deckwa said. “It was always doing what you say you’re going to do … and that’s how we got into Walmart.”

Their products are for sale in 477 Walmarts, 143 Fred Meyers, 88 QFCs, Three Sisters Market in Coupeville and at the K&R Stand on Whidbey Island.

“This whole thing was developed from a grassroots way of doing things,” Arnie said. “When you’re dead broke and you’ve got an idea and you’ve got the persistence and the desire to make this thing happen, you stay at it, you stay at it and you stay at it — and eventually something’s going to stick to the wall.”

Joanne’s said her favorite flavor of their new line is the lemon caper sauce.

“Bar none, it’s my favorite,” she said. “It’s refreshing. It’s wonderful on salmon and on halibut.

“That lemon really enhances the seafood.”

Another top pickis the bourbon sauce, she said, because “it goes on absolutely everything.”

Arnie said his favorite sauce is the fish taco sauce.

“You can put that on anything — stir fries, tacos, even over a salad if you wanted to,” he said.

“It’s different.”

Joanne said the best part of her job at the Cornet Bay Co. is “when somebody tells me how much they like the product and what they did with it.”

The Deckwa’s products can be ordered online via their website, www.cornet bay.com. They can also be reached by calling 360-675-6331.

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