East Coast hopes to have Maine plant running soon
By SeafoodSource staff
06 December, 2012
The former Stinson cannery in Gouldsboro has become a symbol of economic frustration for many on the Schoodic Peninsula. After the last remaining sardine factory in the United States closed in 2010, it was bought by the Live Lobster Company and converted to a lobster processing facility with the backing of some USD 400,000 in public funds. A little over a year after the plant reopened, the facility was again shuttered when after Live Lobster defaulted on its loans from TD Bank. Some 70 local residents lost their jobs with the closure.
But this September, the plant was sold at auction to two buyers, the Groton, Connecticut-based Garbo Lobster Company and East Coast Seafood, based in Lynn, Massachusetts. The sale holds promise for the local economy and the Maine lobster industry, say seafood analysts and local officials. Whereas concerns swirled around the 2011 sale of the facility, many view the two seafood companies’ purchase of the plant as a good omen for the future of seafood processing on the peninsula.
Gouldsboro selectman Roger Bowen is optimistic about the sale. He said the plant’s buyers have projected to process between three million and five million pounds of lobster and employ some 80 people in 2013. Bowen feels such a goal is realistic.
“That’s fairly aggressive, but I think it’s doable,” said Bowen. “Garbo Lobster and their partners have an outstanding reputation. They’re experienced, they’ve done this before and they come into this with their eyes wide open.”
Garbo Lobster did not return calls seeking comment, but East Coast Seafood President and CEO Mike Tourkistas said the goal is to have a business plan in place for the plant by the first quarter of the coming year and to be operational by the second quarter.
The optimism surrounding the sale of the plant centers around the solid reputation of the two buyers, said Neal Workman, founder of the Fisheries Exchange, a Biddeford seafood industry analysis firm.
“They are far more qualified than their predecessor,” Workman said.
It’s a complex business to run a successful lobster-processing facility, Workman said. Anyone who wants to try their hand at lobster processing must have access to a vast amount of capital, as the business model requires paying for lobster daily, while being paid monthly for the finished product.
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06 December, 2012