By Clare Leschin-Hoar, SeaFood Business contributing editor
Published on 28 April, 2014
Just over a dozen Greenpeace protestors may have tried to get their message out at the official opening of Bumble Bee Foods’ shiny new headquarters on Friday, but employees had a plan — and a banner — of their own.
The nearly 300 guests arriving for the celebration had to step around Greenpeace’s hand-drawn banner poking the company over sustainability claims, as protestors rhymed chants, including: “Bumble Bee, stop ripping up the sea.”
But within an hour of the environmental group’s arrival, it was a bonafide banner-off. Bumble Bee employees unrolled their own protest sign aimed squarely at Greenpeace: “Hey Greenpeace! Bad cartoons may raise $...but science is the key to tuna sustainability.”
The company’s new headquarters, in a former, historic San Diego candy factor adjacent to the Padre’s home park drew praise from local business leaders, Padre’s executive chairman Ron Fowler and an enthusiastic Mayor Kevin Faulconer who welcomed the 130 downtown jobs the move brings with it.
“Bumble Bee is proud to be back in downtown San Diego,” sais Chris Lischewski, president and CEO. “It’s the original home of the tuna industry. In the 1940’s and ‘50s, it was the Portuguese and Italians who actually developed the tuna industry through pole and line methods in San Diego.
“Despite the rhetoric you’re hearing outside,” Lischewski told the crowd, “our company is focused on sustainability. We work closely with the World Wildlife Federation who is here today, and a number of responsible environmental firms to ensure the stocks we deal with are being managed sustainably with that sustainability based on real science.”
The stunning new facility, with views directly into the Padre's Petco Park, will be home to 130 Bumble Bee employees. It’s filled with historic photos and artifacts from company’s history that stretches back to 1897, and its start with the Columbia River Packers Association in Oregon. Much of the furniture, created by the Westin Mitchell Design Group, was honed from parts and pieces from the Bumble Bee cannery boneyard at Santa Fe Springs.
“It gives it the feel of an old tuna factory,” said Lischewski.