One company, Trident Seafoods, keeps working not only to bring customers the freshest and
healthiest ;sh possible, but to help maintain the
resource’s long-term survival by staying well
within catch limits.
Trident Seafoods started
with one boat, says founder and
chairman Chuck Bundrant.
Preceding the boat was a
dream, one that Bundrant
turned into a successful privately held and 100 percent
harvesting and processing
company. While Trident
processes fish from around
the world, the company focuses
on wild products from Alaska,
including salmon, pollock, crab,
halibut and cod.
Bundrant is modest about his success. “I’ve
been blessed to be at the right spot at the right time
with the right people,” he tells ;e Connection.
In the fall of 1960, Bundrant was taking classes
on a pre-veterinary track and working 40 hours a
week. It was di;cult to stay on top of both. ;e teen
found inspiration in the ;lm North to Alaska, and
he and three friends set out from Tennessee on
their own trek in January 1961. Bundrant laughs
that “about the time we got to Seattle, my friends
were ready to go back home.”
Bundrant stuck it out, making $1.47 an hour
working on a processing ship in Alaska’s Aleutian
Islands. He says the ;rst few years were really tough,
but he worked his way up from deckhand to captain
and scraped together the funds to buy his own crab
boat in 1965.
He built a second crab boat in 1967, but sold
it two years later and headed back to Tennessee,
where he considered becoming a farmer. But Alaska
Chuck and Joe Bundrant
had gotten ahold of him, and three months later
he returned, taking a job with Vita Food, a crab-processing business.
While working on a ;oating processor for Vita
Food, Bundrant began to toy with the
idea of catching and processing crab
on the one vessel. At that time the
combination was unheard of:
Catching boats needed maneuverability, while processers
needed space to handle and
freeze the crab.
Ignoring the refrain of
“it can’t be done,” Bundrant,
He called the resulting catcher-processer the Billikin, after a Native
;e advantages of being able to catch and process at sea meant the Billikin could go to the most
abundant areas and then process and freeze the
crabmeat without heading back to shore.
As for Trident’s success, Bundrant points to
investing his pro;ts back into the business and the
decision around 1977 to diversify. It was what he
calls “a three-legged stool” approach—;shing for
crab, salmon and bottom ;sh.
Trident has grown to boast a ;eet of more than
40 vessels, and through various mergers and acquisitions—and forging a relationship with Costco in
2000—its shore-based presence has expanded to
include 16 plants located throughout Alaska and
the Paci;c Northwest, plus one plant in Minnesota.
“;e goal has always been to grow at a rate we
could manage,” says Bundrant. CONTINUED ON PAGE 29
(Left) Trident founder Chuck
Bundrant, and his son, Joe,
aboard the Kodiak Enterprise.
(Top) The Bundrants in the
wheelhouse. Trident has been
supplying wild-caught Alaskan
fish to Costco since 2000. (Inset)
Trident’s success started with
the Billikin, a catcher-processor.
Company: Trident Seafood
Chairman: Chuck Bundrant
6,000 (at the
height of the season)
5303 Shilshole Ave. N. W.
Seattle, WA 98107
Items at Costco:
fresh, frozen, deli, dry grocery
Comments about Costco:
“The relationship with
Costco has made us a better
company. They continually
pose challenges that help
us improve our products to
provide better value to the
Executive Vice President