HAPPY NEW FISCAL YEAR!!!!
As we enter March and approach the beginning of the long line season, we also begin our new fiscal year at SPC. It has been a very busy winter in Bellingham. Our landlord notified us, back in August, that their new investors want to eventually turn the area that was our office space into additional cold storage. They told us it could be anywhere from a year out to 5 years out. Given our desire to reduce our overhead and fixed cost base, I wanted us to take this opportunity and downsize sooner rather than later. We conducted a search of available real estate that would meet our needs, and we settled on a location on Meridian Street, roughly 1 mile (as the crow flies) from the Bellingham Cold Storage complex. We no longer have the beautiful view of Bellingham Bay, nor do we have individual offices. We are in an open office environment now, and we have reduced our footprint from over 4,000 square feet to less than 1,000. We have also reduced our monthly rent by over half. The physical move occurred in February, and we are still working out the “bugs” of working in this tight-knit, open environment.
We have also revamped our production, sales, inventory, and financial systems. After an exhaustive process of documenting needs, wants and necessities; searching for and selecting software to meet our requirements; and a lengthy journey of getting that software configured and ready for implementation, we went live with our new system on March 1. We are excited to start seeing the benefits of increased efficiencies both from the staff perspective and from our owner’s perspective. After our fiscal year is closed and year end balances uploaded around the third week of March, you will be able to get answers to questions about your account balances from either office. If you make a payment in Sitka, it will be applied to your account immediately rather than sent down weekly to Bellingham for processing. Changes and efficiencies are not limited to the office. Our new bar-coding system will provide greater efficiencies and product traceability throughout the plant all the way to the customer. We ask for your patience as we all learn the new systems and processes.
There have also been many staffing changes over the past 6 months. As we already communicated, Stephen Rhoads is now in place as our VP of Procurement. Stephen’s job description is very simple: buy us more, high-quality fish, and help us communicate with you, our fleet, much better than we have in the past. I’m excited about what Stephen brings to the table, and I’m relatively certain that you have already seen some benefits here. Ruben Torres is now our Plant Manager. Ruben’s role is distinctly different than Stephen’s: make sure we have the capability to process all of our fish in an excellent way. Ruben brings many years of plant experience into this role, and I’m very confident in his abilities. Ruben and Stephen are working together very well, and I have great confidence that the fish you catch will be processed efficiently, and will be put up in a way that our sales team can get the most value for it. Speaking of sales, we have hired a new salesman, Kirk Hardcastle. Many of you might recognize that name. Kirk was a former commercial fisherman out of Juneau, and he used to own a direct marketing company called Taku River Reds. Kirk’s role is to bring us more value for our fish than we currently receive. He will take leadership in areas like our ambassador program, FAS marketing, higher end food service and institution sales, etc. Kirk will be in Sitka during our Board Meeting week, the last week of March. I hope you get a chance to meet him. We were sad to see Laurie Jacobi resign for personal reasons, but we have promoted Vanessa Roberts into that position. I’m looking forward to seeing Vanessa grow into this role and flourish.
I’m also very excited about our move to a “one-pool” settlement method. This will give us flexibility to be more competitive on dock price in order to further increase our volume. I recognize the need to explain this in much greater detail. I am working on reserving the big room in Centennial Hall on Wednesday night, March 27 to explain the details of this to anyone who wants to attend. Stay tuned for those details.
All the best,