ASPA Member Feature: Fisherman’s Reef Shrimp Company
October 8, 2021
Many processing plants that line the Gulf and South Atlantic have a family lineage rooted deep in multiple generations. In the case of Fisherman’s Reef in Beaumont, Texas, it’s more like a culinary lineage: from donut shop to bakery, hamburger joint to catfish restaurants, a few other ventures in between, and then shrimp processing.
It’s very likely Fisherman’s Reef is the only plant in the United States to have roots in donuts, but if founder, Everett “Wayne” Jones, were still alive, he would have liked that unique attribute. Jones had an unparalleled entrepreneurial mind, and as far as his daughter is concerned, there was just no one like him.
Vikki Jones is chairman of the board for the company, and although she worked with her dad long before he started the plant in 1982, she has been at the helm of the family business since he passed away in 1998. One remarkable aspect of Fisherman’s Reef is that it’s one of the only female-owned and female-run processing operations in the shrimp industry, but a handful of long-term employees at the 15,000-square-foot facility fondly remember Wayne. Why? Well, he is pretty hard to forget…and he would have liked that, too.
Vikki says if there was one word to describe her dad, it would be “flamboyant.” His favorite car he owned was a Zimmer, a Great Gatsby era type of vehicle that his buddy, country singer George Jones, liked to borrow when he came into town. He loved his “Barbara Bush” hairstyle, and as far as wardrobe choice, Wayne was the most stylish shrimp processor around, but his penchant for outlandish things really was just a reflection of the confidence stemming from a brilliant businessman.
“He was generous, creative, fearless, bold, and wasn’t afraid to do anything,” Vikki says. “Even his confidence showed in what he wore — lime green shirts with big polka dots, flashy green, and purple suits, leather jacket vests, cowboy hats with feathers, fine custom skin boots. And he loved his bling! I still have his rings with two- to four-carat stones.”
Ever hear of the old adage “a smile is worth a million bucks”? Wayne embraced that literally and had his front teeth trimmed in gold. Trudy Verdine has worked with the Jones family since she was a sophomore in high school, and she says Wayne’s personality and commanding presence were worth even more: “He was very unusual, very fun, down to earth, and I never met a person that didn’t like him,” Trudy says. “He was a really good guy and was like a father to a lot of us. We miss him dearly, and a lot of people in the industry miss him. He was well-liked and well-respected.”
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