Tropical Aquaculture hires new business development executive in Maine

If you ask John Cutler, his return to seafood production seems both inevitable and serendipitous. 

Cutler, a veteran of the telecommunications industry, was recently hired by seafood sales, distribution, and marketing firm Tropical Aquaculture Products, Inc. as its new vice president of business development. He worked for T-Mobile USA when it was a start-up, and stayed with the firm through its exponential growth into the mid-2000s. Thereafter, he joined several businesses in the green energy sector as they were getting off the ground, and even represented some U.S. sports teams. 

No matter where his career took him, Cutler said he couldn’t stop thinking about the job he held during college, working on an oyster farm along the Damariscotta River. So when Cutler was offered a position back in Maine with Tropical Aquaculture, he said he couldn’t help but jump at the chance. 

“When this opportunity arose, it’s something I’ve always looked back to fondly because when I was at Bates College in the early 1980s, I worked on one of the first oyster farms on the Damariscotta River. I always referred to it as the best job I ever had,” Cutler told SeafoodSource. “It made a lot of sense, to be growing and producing food in a new way. This move to Tropical was the perfect fit for me.”

Tropical Aquaculture, of Rutland, Vermont, was founded in 1998 and was one of the first importers of fresh, high-quality tilapia into the U.S. The company’s portfolio has since expanded to include fresh and frozen tilapia, fresh and frozen shrimp, fresh steelhead trout, fresh European Union-certified organic salmon, fresh Icelandic day-boat cod, and fresh cobia. It recently added Maine raft-grown mussels and is looking at other sources of fresh shellfish. The company’s branded products are carried by retailers and restaurants across North America.

Tropical recently opened a new office in Rockland, Maine, with an eye toward expanding into several segments of Maine’s aquaculture industry. Tropical has focused its latest efforts on attracting local talent like Cutler to its newest location. 

“We believe that Tropical can offer Maine non-production jobs that will open different doors to the seafood industry for the future,” Tropical Aquaculture Founder and President John K. Schramm said in November.

Schramm said he believed skilled marketers and business developers are needed to play a role in putting Maine aquaculture products on the map.

“It’s not just the nuts and bolts of industrial production or even artisanal production – it’s really opportunities from a marketing side, because you can’t just let the good state of Maine’s name do all of the work for you. You’ve got to get out there and do some additional work on the branding and selling of the products,” Schramm said.

The company’s exploration of new markets in Maine proved to be a primary draw for Cutler, who currently resides on a small farm in the state’s Midcoast region. 

“The emphasis that Tropical is going to put on Maine growth – oysters, mussels, scallops – is something I definitely want to be a part of: bringing Tropical’s expansive marketing and sales strength to existing and emerging aquaculture growers in Maine,” he said.  

Cutler’s fresh set of eyes and unique perspective from the telecom industry are traits he said will help guide him in his new position with Tropical, he said.

“There’s a lot of lessons to be brought over from the telecoms area, along with general business experience of making things happen and adapting to change at a rapid pace. I’m excited to take this on, driving growth among our diverse customer base,” Cutler said.


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