ASPA Member Feature: Seabrook Seafood, Inc.
January 22, 2021
Seabrook Seafood, Inc. is based in Kemah, Texas, a beautiful waterfront city located about 20 miles south of Houston. The name Kemah is an Indian word that means “wind in my face” — a fitting description for the steadfast breeze that has guided shrimpers to reap the bountiful harvest Galveston Bay has provided for centuries.
Brothers Tom Hults, president, and Arthur Hults, controller, grew up in Texas and have worked in the seafood industry all their lives, but the lineage of the company goes back to the 1930s in Pascagoula, Mississippi. When their grandfather, Archie Arthur Hults, retired from the paper mill, he was eager to kick up his recreational fishing habit to a more full-time status. Little did he realize his passion for fishing would pave the way for his son and grandsons to embrace seafood as a way of life.
“He caught more fish than he could handle, so he would take them over to the docks that would buy fish off the fishermen,” Tom says. “At some point, he decided it was a good thing to get into that business. He made good money off the fish he caught, opened his own dock, a little retail store and a restaurant came after that.”
Tom and Arthur’s grandmother ran the restaurant part of the business, and the demand for her signature favorite was well known in the community: “She was really good at cooking gumbo,” Tom says. “The running joke I always heard was ‘it was a very special recipe — anything that would hold still long enough, she would put it in the pot!’”
Arthur remembers his grandfather as an “easygoing” man who loved his pipe, always had a smile on his face, and never let any obstacle stand in the way of achieving a goal, especially after losing his right hand in a sawmill accident when he was a teenager.
“One thing about Grandpa is he could do anything,” Arthur says. “That accident did not handicap him in the least, and he went on to be a master machinist.”
That same tenacity and innovative spirit were inherited by their father, Henry Arthur Hults, who also followed the seafood path when he got out of the Navy in 1945. Henry was instrumental in helping his father set up the retail market and restaurant, and unloaded multiple boats at the dock.
Tom says his dad was “very energetic,” and he worked hard to cultivate strong relationships with the boat captains who trusted the Hults name at the dock operation — a standard the sons continue to carry today at Seabrook Seafood. Because the shrimp crop started near Mississippi and eventually would move toward Texas, the fishermen asked Henry if he would consider opening a dock in Texas.
Before long, a fresh wind blew west and steered Henry and his family to chart new fishing waters. Henry was a natural-born entrepreneur, so the transition to a new state was a challenge he tackled with a go-getter mindset armed with ingenious skills.
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