New Bedford, Massachusetts-based seafood supplier Northern Wind, celebrated a milestone 30-year anniversary at the 2018 Seafood Expo North America event in Boston, Massachusetts. Company founders Ken Melanson and Michael Fernandes, along with Northern Wind’s co-CEO George S. Kouri, said they look forward to blossoming the success of Northern Wind even further in the years to come.
“We’re looking forward to the next chapter, because the first 30 years have been so robust and fruitful for the company,” Kouri said. “The next chapter for this company brings a lot of different opportunities for us – it brings opportunity for change; it brings opportunity to increase channels of distribution; it brings opportunities for new product sourcing; it brings opportunity for our re-branding efforts in packaging, re-facing the company in the image we want to project. It goes on and on, including Fair Trade.”
Besides scallops, the supplier has established a wide-ranging portfolio including ahi tuna, Atlantic salmon, North American lobster, monkfish, headfish, skate, and value-added seafood offerings. But the business has made its name with scallops.
“We have strict and strong historical relationships with vessels. We have state-of-the-art facilities with very well-financed capital improvements that enable us to process and produce probably more scallops than anyone in this industry," Kouri said. "We’re very much known for our quality, our credibility, our loyalty to our supply side, and our customer service."
A year ago, the company was the first scallop producer in the nation to receive Fair Trade certification. Building off demand from the foodservice sector for premium scallops, the company has launched its Captain’s Call Five-Star Premium Scallops.
“We needed to have a product that was first-in-class. That’s what the chefs want. They want a product that comes right out of the cheesecloth bags and into their pans,” Kouri said. “The increased business over the last 12 months in a premium brand like that has been surprisingly incredible. It just goes to show you how much of a desire and appetite there is for best-in-class products."
In addition, a number of Northern Wind’s leading scallop brands – Captain’s Call, Mariner’s Choice, and Sea Spray – as well as its tuna brands, have all undergone strategic rebranding to “to better portray Northern Wind’s leadership position in the seafood industry.”
“All of that investment that we made would fall short if we didn’t revise and revamp the look,” Kouri said.
“Not only have we made sure that the product inside of the package does in fact meet their requirements, now the outside does, too,” Melanson added. “Our problem has never been quality of product. What we didn’t do, and we recognize it, is we compromised our own sales because the packaging didn’t do [the product] justice. Now, it tells its own story.”
The company will continue to keep an eye on the effectiveness of packaging moving forward, to make sure it continues to convey the “Northern Wind difference,” Kouri said.
Overall, Melanson and Kouri attribute much of Northern Wind’s established success to its strong foundation of loyal employees and industry partners.
“We take pride in two major things: first, in people – our people, and our customers – and secondly, we take pride in our keen ability to resource,” he said.
It’s a source of great pride that several of the company’s employees have been with the firm since its early years, said Melanson. The relationships that Northern Wind has been able to foster with vessels and its customer base continues to fortify and inspire its drive for excellence, explained Kouri.
“I’d like to thank all of our employees and customers for the last 30 years,” Melanson said.