ASPA Member Feature: Gulf Pride Enterprises, Inc.
April 9, 2021
Gulf Pride Enterprises, Inc. is naturally all about one thing: pride. It’s a word that represents the 60-year-old family-operated Biloxi business well — a company now run by owner Wally Gollott. Not only does the name signify a high standard of quality for the 50,000 pounds of wild-caught Gulf shrimp processed daily during the season, but it also serves as an anchor of pride for the family’s seafood lineage and as a compass to carry on a generational reputation of excellence.
Wally’s father, Edgar “E.M.” Gollott, started the business in 1954 as a one-man distributorship that delivered fresh, hand-packed oysters, shrimp, crab and fish to local mom-and-pop grocery stores and restaurants. As his customer base grew, E.M. started processing in 1960, and by the early 70s, he opened a seafood processing plant to accommodate his route that expanded to six trucks reaching from north Mississippi to the Texas state line.
At first, the focus was mainly on processing oysters (600 gallons a day), but the demand for fresh shrimp positioned E.M. to buy the necessary equipment for a second building used solely for shrimp processing. By 1990, Gulf Pride had shifted the direction of their business to focus only on shrimp.
Wally, 50, started working for the company in 1972, which also was the year the plant got its first automated capping machine for packing oysters. This industry is all he’s ever known, and that’s something he’s really proud of, too. Family is everything to Wally, and the endless hours he spent learning about all aspects of processing from his father before he passed away in 1993, are priceless memories. He is especially fond of all the sayings E.M. had like “no worky, no eaty!” and his father’s knack for detail such as making sure no date stamps on the lids of packed oysters were smudged in any way.
Wally has multiple stories about his dad that still make him laugh. E.M. had a unique ability to capture some deep sleep, and yet wake up just enough to be fully aware of his surroundings as if he had never fallen asleep at all.
“He helped me get my commercial license at 15, and I was driving a semi by 16,” Wally says. “He used to go with me on trips where I would do all the driving. Of course, that was allowing me to get to know all the people I would be dealing with later on in the business. When I was driving, I wanted to get where I was going, and back then, the speed limit was 55. I’d get up to about 60 and he’d be like, ‘Alright, slow it down,’ and he’s over there with his eyes closed!”
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