ASPA Member Feature: Wood’s Fisheries



May 21, 2021

 

The Wood family has been fishing in the sleepy Gulf Coast town of Port St. Joe, Florida since 1860. When it comes to seafood, the Woods have done it all. They caught mullet to make oil and hopped on board a shrimp boat soon after diesel engines became available.

Although Wood’s Fisheries is a fifth-generation company, they are by no means old in their ways. Wood’s prides itself on being progressive leaders in the industry, and they have a history of embracing new technology, techniques, and trends. Change is a word well-known to Edward Wood, president of Wood’s Fisheries, especially coming from a family full of entrepreneurs.

In the late 1800s, Edward’s great grandfather started catching fish in Port St. Joe, home to Wood’s Fisheries today. The facility is located on the mainland shore of Saint Joseph Bay, at the bay entrance to the Intracoastal Waterway. Saint Joseph Bay is historically known for being a safe harbor during stormy weather and abundant fishing grounds.

The Wood family decided in the late ‘50s to try their hand at shrimping. The adventure began when M.C. Wood and Edward E. Wood Sr., also known as Buddy, bought a boat and set sail to catch fresh shrimp. It wasn’t long before they were catching more shrimp than they knew what to do with.

M.C. and Buddy would sit on the side of Highway 98 in the scorching summer sun for hours waiting for trucks to stop and buy their product. They couldn’t afford long-distance phone calls at the time, so if they missed the trucks the shrimp would spoil and they wouldn’t make any profit for the day. Most days they would be so exhausted from shrimping through the night that they would doze off waiting for the trucks to arrive. Catching as much as their small boat could hold, they would bring the shrimp back to Port St. Joe to package, sweat, and wait.

Things were about to change for the Wood family. In the late ‘60s, a woman by the name of Ruth Corbit from Florida Seafood in Jacksonville stopped by to chat with them about increasing their profit. Ruth explained how they could go from making 2 cents to over 30 cents a pound if they would freeze their shrimp in 5-pound boxes. A business relationship quickly formed with Ruth, and in no time the Woods had a dozen boats and two buildings.

Visit Wood’s Fisheries’s Member Profile for more information!