ASPA Member Feature: C. F. Gollott and Son Seafood, Inc.
GOLLOTT HERITAGE IS AN INDUSTRY BEACON
Within the shrimp industry, the commonality of a family-run business holds as much pride as the Wild American product they harvest from domestic waters. Of course, not all processing plants that line the Gulf and South Atlantic have a rich story of family history, but C.F. Gollott & Son Seafood based in D’Iberville, Miss., embodies a heritage of generational blessings that have been passed down decade after decade.
In the Gollott family, shrimp are a fundamental way of life. In the Gollott family, shrimp are all they have ever known. And truth be told, they wouldn’t have it any other way. Operating a successful family business since 1932 takes a lot of passion, determination, skill and commitment — traits exemplified by founder C.F. Gollott that have continued to provide a solid framework for the longstanding business.
C.F. grew up on the Gulf Coast during a time when the area was known as the “Seafood Capital of the World.” He never met a stranger, which was a valuable asset when he began the business by selling shrimp from his truck. Eventually, he established a route around the state that brought oysters, crab and shrimp to customers who didn’t have waterfront access to fresh seafood.
Although he never made it past the third grade, his knowledge of the bustling industry and brilliant mind full of witty inventions positioned him to be one of the founding fathers of the seafood legacy on the Coast. His knack for tinkering led him to design an oyster grader and crab washer, and in his spare time, he excelled as an accomplished drummer who never took a music lesson in his life.
After a very successful 30-year run, C.F. turned the company over to his only son, Arnie Sr., who took the helm until he turned it over to his five sons (Brian, Arny Jr., Dale, Nicky, Ben) in the early 1980s. Today, five grandsons (Dale A., Arny III, Shawn, Todd, Cody) also are heavily involved in the business and are passionate about honoring and continuing the Gollott legacy: “We can enjoy the business because of their many years of hard work,” Arny III said. “They laid the foundation for us and we’re proud of our tradition and heritage.”
When C.F. started the company, it was very labor intensive, and various types of seafood were processed in the factory, but by the mid-80s, Arnie Sr. transitioned the plant to a full-time focus on shrimp. Since then, state-of-the-art equipment and modern technology have become a vital part of the operation. During the seasonal months, 75 tons of ice are produced in house and more than 150,000 pounds of shrimp are processed daily.
C.F. Gollott & Son Seafood has a proven track record of success, but the years haven’t come without hardships, particularly from Mother Nature. Four hurricanes have brought the building down to a slab (hurricane of 1947, Betsy in 1965, Camille in 1969, and Katrina in 2005), but the family was committed to rebuilding every time. Fortitude, tenacity and resiliency define the Gollott character, and as the optimistic Arnie Sr. is known for saying, “We’ll be fine as long as we stick to who we are.”
Although C.F. passed away in 1986, the spirit of the beloved patriarch shines through Arnie Sr., his sons and grandsons — all whom have adopted the same passion for providing consumers with a quality, safe and natural wild caught product from backyard waters they like to refer to as “God’s pond.”
Now well into fourth generation strength of family employees, this seasoned band of Gollotts continues to glean from and foster the principle that family is a valuable commodity.
“The best advice our dad gave all of us boys was that families work together,” said Brian, the oldest of Arnie’s five sons. “We’re all individuals and have different opinions on how to do things, but we don’t let that disturb the business. Our dad gave control of the business to us and we are now in the process of transitioning it to our children.”
In 1982, Gollott & Son Seafood was honored for 50 years of business. In 2007, the family reached the 75-year mark. As the Gollotts continue to pass down the generational torch, there is no doubt the upcoming centennial celebration in 20 years will serve as a grand testimony of a family whose commitment to each other and to consumers stands as a pillar of excellence — a worthy story about seafood industry heritage.
“My father [Arnie Sr.] is very, very proud of his family and always wanted them included in the business,” Brian said. “Family was instilled in us, and growing up, we knew this is what we were going to do as long as it was viable. As my father says, ‘It’s in our blood.’”
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