Alaska processor hires former Icicle sales exec

Rick Speed hired to help company expand its relationship with parent company True World Group and broaden ISA's fresh-fish program.

Former Icicle Seafoods exec Rick Speed has joined International Seafoods of Alaska (ISA) as the company’s new vice president/director of sales.

The move coincides with a restructuring at the company, which, along with Seattle-based surimi seafood maker Shining Ocean and True World Foods, a leading supplier of sushi-grade seafood, is owned by parent company True World Group.

Speed, an industry veteran with close to 25 years in seafood, spent the bulk of his career at Icicle Seafoods.

Speed is responsible for worldwide sales of Alaska-sourced seafood products, which are processed at ISA’s plant on Alaska’s Kodiak Island.

He spent his first week with ISA overseas at the Brussels seafood show, where he met with customers from Asia and Europe, who account for roughly 50 percent of ISA’s business. “We’ve got a far reach and cover markets worldwide,” Speed told IntraFish.

“Our objective is to extend our reach in both the US and also overseas and enhance our alignment with True World Foods' distribution group. So, we’re trying to get closer to them and be more of a supplier to them.”

The goal, he said, is to get more Alaska fish into True World’s global sales pipeline.

Plant upgrades, restructuring

ISA’s plant in Kodiak is being upgraded under the guidance of seafood industry veteran John Sevier, who recently joined ISA and who oversees ISA’s restructuring plan as president of ISA. Also joining the team is Chong Ae who brings more than 30 years of quality assurance experience in the seafood industry.

“The whole purpose of the plant upgrades is to streamline our processing flow which will reduce costs, upgrade quality and increase our freezing capacity. The upgrades also position ISA to focus more attention and broaden the company’s customer base by expanding sales of fresh-fish production” said Speed.

The company is also looking to gain more awareness of a unique freezing system it employs for its frozen product line.

Called “Dream Freeze,” the process, developed in Japan, generates a pulsed magnetic field that allows the water molecules in each cell to freeze instantly, minimizing the damage to the cell structure, which can occur under conventional freezing methods.

“I don’t think Dream Freeze technology has been promoted as much as we could. There is a fairly strong following [for the product], including major retailers who see the benefits of the process. They pay a bit more for it, although recognize the value of better quality and less shrinkage in refresh programs” said Speed.

Speed’s arrival means Ron Steckler from ISA is moving to sister company Shining Ocean as its vice president of Sales and Marketing. Steckler's new position is an integral part of True World Group’s positioning itself in the world seafood market.

“The restructuring efforts are expected to further establish International Seafoods of Alaska as a major player in Alaska and demonstrate the company’s commitment to its employees, fishermen and communities in Alaska” Speed said.

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