St. Anthony Seafoods celebrates milestone

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Company says it’s poised to build on its 10 years in operation

St. Anthony Seafoods celebrates milestone

By Allan Bock

FOR THE SOU’WESTER

Colin MacDonald couldn’t hide the smirk when he referred to naysayers who said St. Anthony Seafoods wouldn’t succeed.

He acknowledged that the shrimp and crab processing operation faced lean years in the early going when it didn’t make money. In fact, the profit margin today for Clearwater Seafoods and its partners is marginal.

But after 10 years in operation, the plant has been re-tooled and MacDonald said it’s positioned to do well over the next 10 years. “We’ve been successful,” he said recently in front of a large crowd of company officials, employees, businesspeople and community leaders. The occasion was a celebration of St. Anthony Seafoods Limited Partnership’s 10th year of operation in 2008.

MacDonald credited the employees of the plant and pointed to the pride they have in their place of work and in themselves as the key to the company’s success. “You can’t find a better work ethic than in Newfoundland,” he remarked. “There have been some great times here…getting the crab licence was a great moment.”

The chief executive officer of Clearwater Seafoods Limited Partnership dedicated the anniversary proceedings to Wilfred Reardon, a long-time employee who passed away several months ago. As one of the employees who was with the company in the beginning when shrimp was offloaded in 1999, MacDonald said the former procurement manager and his family typifies the spirit of Clearwater and the St. Anthony operation. “They never give up…they struggle and they survive.”

One of the partners in the processing operation, St. Anthony Basin Resources Inc. (SABRI), said the company and its employees can be proud of their achievements. Charlie Reardon, chair of the SABRI board, said it was worth noting that with 200 employees, St. Anthony Seafoods is the largest private sector employer in the area. “We’d like to congratulate our partner on their milestone,” he said. “We wish you many more years of success.”

Rick Pelley, constituency assistant to MHA Trevor Taylor, said the area’s immediate future looked desperate when the cod moratorium was imposed in 1992. “If someone had told me 15 years ago that we would have a modern shrimp processing facility here, I wouldn’t have believed them,” he said.

Pelley said the offshore shrimp allocation granted to the region in the 1990s was the catalyst for enticing Clearwater to make a bid to establish a processing operation in the town. He suggested the future of the area is bright if the shrimp and crab resource is managed properly.

Councillor Marilyn Walker, representing the Town of St. Anthony, said the company and its partners deserve credit for enabling people to be able to stay in the region and not move away.

She noted there have been huge spin-off benefits arising from the investment of some $20-million in the construction of the plant and other improvements, along with the wages which employees have earned and spent over the past 10 years.

In her remarks, the general manager of the operation, Caroline Davis, noted that 10 years “have come and gone quickly.”

Calling it a huge milestone for the ownership, management, employees and Northern Newfoundland, she said the plant’s history wasn’t without its challenges. She pointed to protests outside the plant gates and delays in offloading boats, but through it all, the operation persevered. “We have a lot to celebrate,” she said. “We have a new factory that’s been installed and for that we thank the engineering and maintenance staff for getting it done.”

Looking ahead to the future, MacDonald suggested there will always be challenges to address and overcome. “I look forward to the 10 years, the next 100 years,” he stated. “We will continue to be here and continue to be successful because of the people who are here.” (Allan Bock is the editor of Transcontinental Media’s Northern Pen newspaper, which is a contributor to the Sou’Wester.)

Organizations: Clearwater Seafoods Limited Partnership, SABRI board, Transcontinental Media

Geographic location: Clearwater, St. Anthony, Newfoundland

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