Western Edge Forges Ahead Following Victoria's Passing
The employees of Western Edge Seafood are forging ahead following the loss of company founder and president John Victoria, who passed away July 16. Victoria, 53, was diagnosed with lymphoma on May 22; he left a wife and three children.
The Victoria family retains ownership of the Washington, Pa., company, and its employees have renewed their commitment to serving their retail and foodservice customers, says VP David Loos, who's been with the company for 10 years.
"John was the best businessman I ever met. Business was his passion," says Loos. "He was a no-nonsense type person, a straight shooter, very honest."
Western Edge imports tilapia and catfish from China, shrimp from Asia and South America, tuna and mahimahi from South America and swordfish from Singapore.
Many U.S. tilapia importers faced a big challenge this winter when snow and ice storms and colder-than-usual temperatures devastated southern China, hindering tilapia production. China represents the bulk of U.S. imports of frozen tilapia fillets, which through July were down 10 percent, to less than 112 million pounds, from the same seven-month period last year.
Victoria had the insight to order 90 containers of frozen tilapia late last year when he predicted that the price had bottomed out, explains Loos. The move paid off early this year when Western Edge had the inventory to satisfy its customers' demands in a tight market, even though only 50 containers arrived from mid-December to mid-March.
Moving forward, Western Edge plans to continue to expand its Chinese catfish sales, which through mid-September had already doubled last year's total, and within the next two months begin offering frozen tuna loins and steaks from Trinidad, says Loos. The company has watched its annual sales increase six fold over the past five years, he adds.