Alaskan seafood processing companies Icicle Seafoods and Ocean Beauty Seafoods announced Friday taht they will merge their salmon and groundfish operations. The new company will be named OBI Seafoods LLC.
Ocean Beauty Seafoods operates one plant in the city of Kodiak and another in Alitak, located on the southern tip of the island. Icicle Seafoods operates a plant in Larsen Bay.
According to a statement released by Ocean Beauty Seafoods, all five Icicle shoreside plants and all five Ocean Beauty shoreside plants in Alaska are included in the merger.
Ocean Beauty Seafoods’ smoked salmon and distribution operations will remain under its current ownership and will operate under the name OBS Smoked & Distribution, LLC.
The Ocean Beauty and Icicle Seafoods Gulf of Alaska groundfish operations and all salmon operations will operate under the newly formed OBI.
Icicle Seafoods' processing operations on the P/V Gordon Jensen and the permanently moored craft Northern Victor in Dutch Harbor are not included in the merger. These plants will continue to operate in the Bering Sea, Aleutian Islands and Western Gulf of Alaska groundfish fisheries, and will operate under Icicle Seafoods.
The merger will take effect today, in time for the start of salmon season. According to the press release, Icicle Seafoods and Ocean Beauty Seafoods will each own a 50% stake in the new company.
James Turner, plant manager at Ocean Beauty Seafoods in Kodiak, said daily operations at the Ocean Beauty plants will remain as normal, while the Icicle Seafood plant will close to fishing operations but be open to service fishermen who need fuel, groceries and boat repairs.
“The plants will still operate as Ocean Beauty and Icicle,” Turner said, explaining that changes will occur among leadership positions in the newly formed parent company. “The president and CEO, CFO, vice president and areas managers will merge together. Plant managers will stay the same and the lower levels will stay the same.”
Turner also said there will not be any layoffs at the Ocean Beauty plant, and the company plans on growing its operations.
“We plan on growing on this point forward. We still have at least 50 positions open for salmon season and for pollock,” Turner said.
The merger “makes both of us stronger in the market and that's the whole goal, to be stronger in the market as well as a company,” Turner said.
Although discussions about merging began three years ago, the merger transaction began 18 months ago, Turner said.
Salmon season begins this month, while pollock season is slated to begin on Sept. 25.
Ocean Beauty Seafoods has hired all of its out-of-state workforce that can be housed in its 40-person bunk house, Turner said, adding that the plant has 50 open positions for salmon and pollock seasons.
Mark Palmer, president and CEO of Ocean Beauty Seafoods, will serve as CEO of the newly merged company, while John Woodruff, chief operating officer of Icicle Seafoods, will become executive vice president of Alaska operations for the new company.
“The Alaska salmon business is experiencing significant market and resource fluctuations. In order to flourish in this rapidly changing environment, we need to develop flexible and efficient business models and form innovative partnerships,” Palmer said. “The merger will enable more focus on selling seafood products in the global marketplace by leveraging both strong sales teams. Increased sales will bring additional investment to support growth and jobs.”
Ocean Beauty Seafoods was founded in 1910 and is owned by the Bristol Bay Economic Development Corporation. Icicle Seafoods was founded in 1965 and has been owned by the Cooke family since 2016.