“Bundrant’s strength was his ability to attract the right people, listen to them, and invest in their ideas.” – Paul Padgett, President of Trident Seafoods
Trident’s Akutan processing plant is the largest fish-processing plant in North America, and it can process more than 3 million pounds of Alaskan pollock each day.
The amazing part of the story is the guy running the facility, plant manager Dave Abbasian.
Plant manager of a facility this large is no easy task.
Dave Abbasian coordinates vessel deliveries, and watches a dozen video screens monitoring every stage of plant operations. He’s not simply in charge of production.
“He’s the mayor of the Akutan facility, a small town of 1,200 workers from all over the globe, and he’s ultimately responsible for everything that happens. The plant generates its own power; purifies its own water; tends to its own fires, injuries, and illness; and feeds, houses, trains, and polices its own employees, from Muslims who lay prayer rugs in the break rooms to Christians who attend services at Safe Harbor Church, built by Trident founders.”
Dave Abbasian started as a cook’s helper in the mess hall and worked his way up.
As a teenager, Dave emigrated from Iran to the US with his family. After a year in Arlington, Virginia, they moved to Seattle, where he enrolled as a junior in high school. Three years into college, he took a year off to ski in Utah and then returned to Seattle in April of 1986 to look for work. He’d heard of the opportunity to make money in Alaska, and a friend had given him the names of three seafood companies where he might apply. He approached Trident first and went to Trident’s “corporate office” in a trailer on Ewing Street, near the Ship Canal.
The following story is told in the book, Catching A Deckload of Dreams.
“I remember I was sitting in the office for the interview,” Abbrasian recalled, “and this guy walks in wearing a conservative three-piece suit. He looks at me in the eye and says,
‘Who are you?’
“I said, ‘I’m Dave Abbasian. I’m applying for work to go up to Alaska.’
‘Have you ever been up to Alaska before?’
‘It’s a hard place.’
’Okay, I’m ready for it.’
‘It’s tough. Are you sure you can cut it?’
‘I’ll do my best.’
“So I get hired and come up here as a seafood processor and cook’s helper in the mess hall.” Abbasian recalled.
“I arrive June 15th, and we’re busy running salmon. My second day on the job, I see this guy on the salmon line wearing boots, raingear, and gloves, with salmon blood all over his head. I recognized him, but I didn’t really know where I’d seen him before. Finally, I ask somebody, ‘Who is that guy?’ and they said, ‘That’s Chuck Bundrant, the owner of the company.’ I looked at him again and realized that was the same guy that I’d seen in Seattle. Right then, I had this feeling that maybe I was working for the right company, if the owner was helping process fish way out here.”
You can read more articles on Chuck Bundrant [HERE].
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