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Mike Erickson, President: Alaska Glacier Seafoods.

The son of a commercial troll fisherman, Mike Erickson moved to Alaska with his family in 1966. Erickson spent summers fishing with his family and attended school in Petersburg through the other three seasons. In his early adulthood, Erickson took a job in Juneau with White Pass Alaska Fuel, helping construct, and later managing, the tank farm now known as Petro Marine. Separated from his family--who were living in Fairbanks at the time--he spent much of his spare time fishing. Often catching much more than he could consume or give away, he started selling his catch for "gas money." Realizing that his hobby was both fun and profitable, he founded Alaska Glacier Seafoods (AGS) in 1995. Today, AGS employs 145 people at the peak of its season.

GROWTH SPURT: Alaska Glacier Seafoods, as a company, took a major leap when we constructed a fifteen throusand-square-foot facility in Auke Bay in 2005. The company puts a lot of emphasis on fresh fish sales: halibut and salmon fillets. Another avenue that AGS is a major player in is the live king crab markets, and we source crab from the Southeast to the Aleutian Chain. It is common for us to charter a 737 aircraft and fly a load of crab out at any given time. Most of this product goes into West Coast markets.

WHOLE CATCH PRACTICES: One of the things we are really excited about is working towards 90 percent-plus utilization of purchased fish most recently because most of the fish trimmings are now ground for use in the pet foot industry and that is from all species of fish with the exception of crab shells.

A PERMANENT POSITION: I think one thing we are very proud of is the longevity of the employees that are here at AGS. It is a family owned business. No interest is owned outside of the family. My son, Jim Erickson, is the vice president of AGS, and he is mostly responsible for domestic and overseas sales. My wife, Bonnie Erickson, and daughter in law, Kristie Erickson, are instrumental in managing and keeping the accounting of the business. We are all very committed.

TIME IS OF THE ESSENCE: One of the biggest challenges that we face continually would be moving product to market in a timely fashion. Because this is fresh fish it's very time sensitive so we are always looking for the best method to transport to markets. Markets for our fresh product can be found on the East and West coasts, Australia, Taipei, and Japan. Our frozen product is worldwide with a lot of European sales in Ukraine, Japan, and China.

PERSISTENCE PAYS: Obviously, success requires working hard, as most business owners know, and understanding it's not a forty-hour work week, which is especially true when you are dealing with perishable products. It requires constant attention and monitoring. AGS is able to do this because we deal with such a large variety of Alaskan products and the company is essentially opened year round. It's not a five-month seasonal operation--it's a twelve-month operation that lends itself to keeping long-term employees because of the year round employment. I have a pleasure boat named Persistence.

MINDING YOUR BUSINESS: Really understanding what you intend to do is a key element. Learning everything you can about your proposed business and making sure you have a financing plan in place with enough cushion to get through tough times. Do not plan on a forty-hour work week. I think being passionate about what you are doing is a very key motivator.
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Title Annotation:View from the Top
Comment:Mike Erickson, President: Alaska Glacier Seafoods.(View from the Top)
Author:Gallion, Mari
Publication:Alaska Business Monthly
Geographic Code:1U9AK
Date:Oct 1, 2013
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