ASPA Member Feature: Gulf Island Shrimp & Seafood, LLC
September 9, 2021
Gulf Island Shrimp in Dulac, Louisiana, is comprised of two plants — Scottco and SeaTang — located right across the bayou from each other in Terrebonne Parish. In the shrimp industry, many processors come from a multi-generation, hands-on background, but that isn’t the case for Gulf Island. Although not a family-owned operation, that has never hindered their reputation for a quality product.
Why? Simple. It’s because of the people in the plants who are committed to a standard of excellence. The quality of the product exists because of the character of its workers. The success of Gulf Island is due to the long-term employees who stem from a rich lineage embedded in the foundation of this seafood town and others — a special blend of people that faithfully and proudly bring their piece of heritage to work every day. The industry-laced resumés from just a handful of the key employees strengthen the company cornerstone with more than 300 years of experience.
David Graham, general manager, started working for the company in 2011, but has been involved in the industry since he was 12-years-old with many memories of “dumping shrimp boxes” from docks right off the Pascagoula River in Mississippi. Even his birth certificate reflects his heritage: right under his father’s occupation, “shrimp business” is listed. His dad was a fisherman and also went to school to be an engineer, a pairing that benefited him well:
“He started by buying a boat and then ended up with a small fleet of boats before he eventually built a processing plant in Mississippi,” David, also an engineer, says. “He went from one shrimp boat to being a major seafood company. In the course of his business career, he also had a shipyard and built more than 150 steel boats. His career was very creative and dynamic.”
Ricardo Carrere is the plant manager for Scottco, and his career began at age five when he started riding on his father’s boat: “I wasn’t strong enough to help him ice the shrimp, but I could help pick the shrimp and sort through it,” he says. “He’d pay me 25 cents to do a bushel of shrimp.”
Ricardo started working at the SeaTang plant when he was 17 and has done everything from shoveling shrimp to packing prior to becoming a supervisor: “When I started at SeaTang, I was getting paid minimum wage, which was $2.25 an hour,” he says. “I was still in high school and would ride the bus to the plant, work sometimes until about midnight, go home, sleep a little, go to school and then go back to the plant. I learned all about the industry from scratch.”
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