American Seafoods names Mikel Durham as CEO, Bodal to remain as chairman

Published on
January 12, 2017

American Seafoods has named Mikel Durham its new CEO, bringing in an executive with significant food and beverage experience but no background in the seafood industry.

American Seafoods is a leader in the harvesting, processing, preparation and supply of quality wild-caught seafood, with operations concentrated in Alaskan waters. The company is a majr quota holder for offshore pollock, as well as Pacific whiting and Pacific cod, and produces fillet, surimi, roe and block product sold worldwide.

Its current CEO, Bernt Bodal, who has led the company since 2000 and served in executive positions at American Seafood since 1991, will remain with the company in the role of chairman.

“I am delighted to welcome Mikel Durham to the American Seafoods family. Mikel is a talented food service and consumer products executive with a proven track record of strong performance. I look forward to working closely with her to build greater awareness and demand for the healthy and sustainably-harvested wild seafood products we produce,” Bodal said. “Out of the many candidates we considered, Mikel distinguished herself as a consummate professional with a deep understanding of global food markets. She is a team builder who understands the importance of setting and achieving goals together,” Bodal said.

Durham’s appointment is effective 16 January. Previously, she served as global growth officer of PepsiCo’s North American foodservice business, president of Burger King North America, president of global supply chain for Cadbury Schweppes, managing director of Guinness Venture Markets, chief commercial officer of CSM Bakery Solutions and general manager of Yum! Southern Europe. She has a bachelor’s degree in economics from Smith College and an MBA from the Harvard Graduate School of Business Administration. She is also a current board member of Tyson Foods.

“American Seafoods is a leader in supplying high-quality, sustainably-harvested, and healthy wild-caught seafood products throughout the world,” Durham said. “I’m excited for the opportunity to work with this dynamic organization to further realize its growth objectives.”

The move to replace Bodal as CEO was initiated following a recapitalization investment led by private investment firm Bregal Partners in 2015. Pacific Seafoods CEO Frank Dulcich, Bumble Bee CEO Chris Lischewski, and former Icicle Seafoods CEO Amy Humphreys also invested in the company during its 2015 recapitalization and now serve on its board along with Scott Perekslis, the co-founder and managing partner of Bregal Partners.

“Mikel is an accomplished leader with a deep understanding of how to develop innovative products, build strong brands, and access growing markets,” Perekslis said. “Her experience in domestic and international food markets is important to accomplish the company’s strategic objectives of growing demand for its core products and developing new applications for its sustainably-harvested species. I’m confident that she will bring to our team new views, a new momentum, and contribute to the sustainable growth of American Seafoods.”

Bodal will remain actively involved with the company as chairman of the board. The company said in its announcement that he will “devote his time to supporting strategic initiatives and maintaining and cultivating key customer and banking relationships.”

“Under his leadership, the company maintained strong EBITDA margins and built successful long-term customer relationships while strengthening its position as the one of the largest whitefish producers in the world,” the company said.

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