ContactPhilly Seafood Co.
6544 Greatwood Parkway Suite B
Sugar Land, TX 77479
Quick FactsYear founded: 2000
Interesting fact about the business: Family owned and operated, Hispanic owned
Philly Seafood Co. in Sugar Land, Texas just outside of Houston was founded in 2000 as a natural progression of the Garcia family’s shrimping history that had already been in motion for decades.
Run by a family of shrimpers spanning three generations dating back to Regina’s father, Philly Seafood Co. is a true testament to the power of family and hard work in the shrimp industry.
Edward Garcia, Sr. – patriarch of the Garcia shrimping family – has a long and storied history with the bountiful waters of the Gulf of Mexico. When he was 13 years old, he went to work collecting oysters in Matagorda Bay. Many years later, he took his first expedition on a shrimping boat, only for the crew to get lost, the boat to get beached, forcing all of the workers to walk the remainder of the 30-mile trek home. But that didn’t stop Mr. Garcia, who bought his first shrimp boat in 1952: the Texas 18. He was the first Hispanic Gulf shrimp boat owner in Matagorda Bay. Mr. Garcia has since owned more than 25 boats – including the Captain Edward, Texas 1, Miss Winnie, Grandma, and more – and continues to work with the family to this day: with four of his six sons currently operating as shrimpers and his daughter Regina running Philly Seafood Co. – making them the largest shrimp family-owned fleet in all of the United States.
While the Garcia extended family has been shrimping for generations, Philly Seafood Co. as it’s known today all started when Kenneth Garcia reached out to his younger sister, Regina Garcia Pena, and asked her if she wanted to sell some of the shrimp that he had caught. Regina was hot off the heels of selling her previous business, the Little People’s Place daycare, and was looking for a fresh start in a new business venture, so she decided to give it a try.
At the time, the Garcia family was working with a processor partially owned by the Garcia brothers called Mid-Coast in Port Lavaca, Texas to prepare their shrimp for packaging and selling. Kenneth had some leftover inventory that he told Regina to pitch as “the best shrimp in the world,” and it worked! By the time Regina had made some solid sales with the shrimp, Mid-Coast had shut down and Philly Seafood Co. began working with other processors – and that’s when things really started rolling for the company. They started making sales, and this is how the family really grew to become Philly Seafood Co.
While the company’s history may have humble origins, the whole incident was enough to inspire Regina to delve further into the world of shrimp like so many others in her family had done, taking them from a family to a family-owned seafood company.
And of course, when it comes to Philly Seafood Co., it always comes back to family.
Multiple members of the extended Garcia family work within the company: Edward Garcia, Sr. and his wife Antonia, their six sons and one daughter, three nephews, and two nieces! Regina’s daughters started work for the company by selling shrimp with their mother out of her car. Her nephews work with her brothers as shrimpers, and even Regina’s 90-year-old father still works with them by managing his own boats to this day! While Philly Seafood Co. does not own any of its own boats, that family connection still runs through the business as Garcia brothers and cousins own and operate several of the dozens of boats that the company buys shrimp from.
All of them work together to tell the story of Philly Seafood Co.
When asked how she would describe her company’s story, one of the overall messages behind what makes Philly Seafood Co. what it is, Regina had a story to tell. She described how in high school for a career aptitude class, one of her brothers had been told that his dream of becoming a shrimper was a poor career choice. Regina recalls being so enraged at the disrespect that shrimpers often face.
“Every shrimping family will tell you it’s either feast or famine: you’re either making money or you’re not,” she said. “When you grow up in a family-based business, there’s this innate pride that you want to work with your family and that you want to do that work well.”
Regina feels that shrimpers work harder than anybody, despite the preconceptions around them, and that they are a prideful industry full of diligent, respectable, and savvy people.
“If you’re still shrimping, buying boats, or whatever else it may be, then you’re investing in a business of honest Americans who are proud of what they do!”
As a continuation of Philly Seafood’s story and why Regina always strives for the company to do its best, she took on an even more personal note:
“People always ask ‘Why Philly Seafood? You’re not from Philadelphia!’ The company is named in memory of my son, who passed away 25 years ago.” She continued, “It was always important to me that his name be said, so talking about pride, I would never do anything to tarnish his or my family’s name. These are my stories, that’s why this is important to me, that’s why I do what I do.”
Philly Seafood Co. is so confident in its product and quality that it offers a guarantee to any potential buyers. It is a family-owned and operated company that buys local, wild-caught shrimp over farm-raised and strives to provide excellent customer service and partnering. If a customer has a problem with the product, Regina tells them to call her personally and she will take care of it.
While Philly Seafood Co. is more of a shrimp packaging company than a processor, their shrimp are just as wild and as much a part of their identity and history as any ASPA processor. They market and sell shrimp for their producers, packers, and customers that are directly harvested from their family’s boats and caught by members of the Garcia family.
“We do work with partner processors, but we also catch and package our own shrimp: the best shrimp in the world! It always feels like we sell a lot more shrimp than we produce – which is always a good problem to have.”
Regina described the pride she feels at being able to go to a local grocery store and find Philly Seafood Co. shrimp, packaged with the standout logo of a cowboy riding a shrimp.
Edward Garcia, Sr. can always be found wearing a cowboy hat and jeans. When Regina was a young girl, she would watch her father ride horses he owned. As she thought about the Philly Seafood Co. brand and what wild shrimp meant to her, everything became clear.
“He was the greatest shrimper I’ve ever known, wrangling in wild shrimp! I thought it was the perfect representation for the company.”
Philly Seafood Co. as a whole remains proud of its shrimp.
“When you get shrimp from Philly Seafood Co., you know that you’re getting a wholesome, quality product with excellent texture and flavor. We’re sustainable, we love Mother Nature, and our shrimp are harvested in open waters. When your buyer knows what you’re all about, it’s an easier sell!”
Philly Seafood Co. partners with a variety of seafood industry organizations that promote sustainable practices and the industry as a whole, such as Audubon G.U.L.F. and their Fishery Improvement Projects (FIP’s), the Sustainable Fisheries Partnership, Gulf Seafood Trace, Southern Shrimp Alliance, Go Texan, the Texas Sea Grant, Wise Fish and of course the American Shrimp Processors Association
In terms of buyers, Regina said that Philly Seafood Co. likes to split its business between foodservice and retail, with a key factor being that the company prefers to work with educated buyers: individuals who either know what kind of quality shrimp they are in the market for, or are willing to be educated on why they should always go with wild-caught, American shrimp.
Through and through, Philly Seafood Co. is a true champion for the shrimping industry and smart shrimp purchasing.
“I think it’s an industry that’s worth saving and worth working hard for,” said Regina. She described Philly Seafood Co. as a company that wants to tell the story of high-quality shrimp that any consumer would want, so long as they’re educated on how to distinguish wild-caught, American shrimp with farm-raised, imported shrimp.
“We just have to educate them. They don’t know what they don’t know,” Regina said. “Like I said, when your buyer knows what you’re all about, it’s an easier sell!”