Pacific Seafood rebuilds fire-ravaged dock, processing facility

Published on
August 24, 2017

U.S.-based supplier and processor Pacific Seafood, in partnership with a number of local collaborators, will help to bring over 100 jobs back to Warrenton, Oregon in 2018 by rebuilding the area’s dock and the company’s corresponding processing facility, the company said in a press release.

Both the dock and processing plant suffered severe damage in a 2013 fire.   

Warrenton Mayor Henry Balensifer, Business Oregon Regional Development Officer Melanie Olson, Warrenton City Manager Linda Engbretson, and Oregon Governor’s Office North Coast Regional Coordinator Mark Ellsworth formalized a partnership with Pacific Seafood on Wednesday, 23 August, to rebuild the dock and the processing site, with General Counsel Dan Occhipinti representing the seafood company. 

The reconstruction of the dock and the Pacific Seafood Warrenton processing facility – which served as the largest employer in Warrenton before the June 2013 fire, providing more than 100 full-time positions for the community and upwards of 100 seasonal jobs – is expected to reinvigorate both the local economy and the area’s workforce.

“The Pacific Seafood processing facility plays a vital role in Warrenton's economy and we are excited to welcome them back to Warrenton from their temporary location,” Mayor Balensifer said. “Thanks to their recent decision to expand the facility, they can provide more full time jobs year round. This is good for the employees, the company and our economy.”

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Construction on Pacific’s Warrenton processing facility is currently underway, with the plant slated to accept deliveries of crab, whiting and groundfish by early 2018. Although full operational capacity isn’t expected until next year, the company is looking to accommodate special deliveries in time for the December 2017 crab season, it said.  

The return to Warrenton has always been part of the plan for Pacific, according to Occhipinti, who recalled the company’s CEO Frank Dulcich making a promise to local team members one day after the fire decimated the site.

“The day after the fire, our CEO Frank Dulcich visited the damaged site and made the commitment in front of our team members that we would rebuild,” Occhipinti told SeafoodSource. “We haven't wavered from that since.” 

In what has come to be known by Pacific and the city of Warrenton as “the seven-day miracle,” the company swiftly relocated its operations to nearby Astoria, Oregon following the blaze, and had its temporary site up and running only a week after the incident, with all employee wages paid, even during downtime. Due to Astoria’s close proximity, Pacific was able to continue its work with North Oregon’s local independent fleet before the inevitable move back to Warrenton, a prerogative for the company, Occhipinti said. 

“The North Oregon Coast has some of the best fishing families in the entire world and it is our honor and privilege to be part of their community. This is why it was so important that our temporary location opened quickly and close by,” Occhipinti said.

The aid from local governance and business groups has been imperative in Pacific being able to deliver on its Warrenton commitment, added Occhipinti.

“None of this would be possible without the help from Senator Betsy Johnson, Representative Debbie Boone, Mayor Balensifer, and Governor Brown’s Business Oregon team,” Occhipinti said. “They were instrumental in protecting hundreds of jobs and helping a local company get back on its feet after the devastating fire.”

When asked about potential future processing avenues in terms of species for the Pacific Seafood Warrenton facility, Occhipinti said the company “will start with crab, whiting, and groundfish, but may expand to others in the future.”

Photos provided courtesy of Pacific Seafood. 
Imbedded image description: At the table from left to right are Oregon Governor’s Office North Coast Regional Coordinator Mark Ellsworth, Warrenton City Manager Linda Engbretson, Business Oregon Regional Development Officer Melanie Olson, Warrenton Mayor Henry Balensifer, and Pacific Seafood General Counsel Dan Occhipinti.

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