About a year after a fire destroyed its production facility, a decades-old seafood wholesaler is back in town with a brand new factory.
Dickie’s Seafood cut the ribbon on Thursday on its new Northside dig at 1508 Brook Road, which was built on the site of the company’s former factory which was heavily damaged by a fire in June last year.
With the old factory a total loss, Dickie’s largely ceased operations after the fire. The new building is fueling its comeback in supermarkets, which also started this week.
The company spent $ 5 million to revive itself, and most of the funds went to the plant and equipment. Improvements to the new facility include the Laitram CoolSteam cooking system and the Rainfall cooling system. Dickie’s said it was only one of three U.S. seafood processors to use the equipment.
The plant has the same footprint as its predecessor at 16,000 square feet. Up-to-date equipment and a reconfigured space should make this a more efficient operation. The company is able to produce up to 1,500 pounds of cooked shrimp per hour.
To supplement stimulus spending, $ 1 million was allocated to retain employees during downtime following the fire.
“I didn’t want to lose them because of the competition. The day after the fire, these guys were getting phone calls, ”CEO Frank Fay said in an interview ahead of the ribbon cutting ceremony.
The company now has 20 employees and had more than 30 employees before the fire.
Dickie’s shrimp is now rolling out in stores. The company plans to reintroduce its crab products in the fall.
Fish products, although part of the company’s pre-fire product line, will not be introduced until later and will be supplied by a contractor.
“(Fish) was our smallest component and we decided that if we rebuilt and were going to start, we needed to focus on what we do best and what we are known for,” said Fay.
Shrimp and crab products made up about 85 percent of the company’s business.
Dickie’s will have the same business footprint as before the fire: its products will be stocked at 36 Food Lions, 45 Krogers and 80 mom-and-pop stores in central and eastern Virginia, Fay said. He added that the company plans to expand this market area in the future.
Fay said the stimulus was funded by insurance proceeds and the paycheck protection program. The company had revenue of $ 5.3 million in 2019, Fay said.
Although largely in sleep mode for about a year, Dickie’s did make a short-term pop-up during the holiday season. Fay said it was the right move as it kept the brand fresh in the minds of customers ahead of the relaunch.
“We thought it would take too long for us to be out of the market and wanted to release our product for the holiday season,” he said. “I think it has helped us in different ways. We were able to do a great radio commercial to keep the name there. “
Dickie’s, which was founded by Dickie Poh in 1978, is owned by Sustainable Sea Products International and VB General Holdings.