Alaska seafood processor Peter Pan Seafood has hired Thai Union executive Kevin Bixler as its news CEO.

Bixler, who officially joins the company next month, will take over the CEO responsibilities from company owner and Chief Growth Officer Rodger May, who has been handling the chief executive duties since the departure of longtime Peter Pan CEO Barry Collier in March 2021.

Collier's departure came as the "new" Peter Pan was taking shape in the wake of the acquisition of the company by May and private equity groups McKinley Capital and RRG Capital Management.

The consortium acquired the Alaska processor at the end of 2020 from longtime owner Maruha Nichiro, the world's largest seafood company by revenue. Maruha Nichiro took a $28 million (€24 million) hit on the sale of Peter Pan.

Bixler most recently served as global director of group fish procurement at Thai Union, where he led the company's strategy on fish procurement.

He has worked in leadership positions at Thai Union since 2006, beginning as the director of procurement for Chicken of the Sea before being promoted to vice president of procurement.

In addition to his work experience, in 2021 Bixler was elected chairman of the International Seafood Sustainability Foundation, an association of global tuna suppliers.

The youngest of five children, Bixler grew up working on his family’s commercial fishing vessels and avocado farms. Bixler’s father owned and fished a salmon troll vessel in the 1960s before owning and operating tuna vessels.

“Kevin’s experience at Thai Union, a global seafood leader, and his other various roles in the industry make him a natural fit for Peter Pan,” said May.

History of Peter Pan

1898 Count Roland Onffroy, a French immigrant, creates the Franco-American group North Pacific Packing Company in Bellingham, Washington

1899 Brothers Frank and E.B. Deming acquire North Pacific Packing and establish a new group, Pacific American Fisheries (PAF)

1912 Washington State-based salmon brokerPrince Edward (P.E.) Harris establishes a seafood company, acquiring several canneries, vessel and fish traps

1962 P. E. Harris Company, Inc. changes its name to Peter Pan Seafoods

1965 PAF assets acquired by Peter Pan and Japan's Taiyo Gyogyo

1975 The Bristol Bay Native Corporation (BBNC) buys Peter Pan

1979 BBNC sells Peter Pan to Japan's Nichiro Gyogyo Kaisha

1994 Golden Alaska Seafoods Company is merged into Peter Pan Seafoods as subsidiary Golden Alaska Seafoods

2007 Nichiro Corporation merges with Maruha Corporation

2021 McKinley Capital, Rodger May and other investors acquire Peter Pan from Maruha Nichiro, and form the Peter Pan Seafood Company

Source: Peter Pan

Since the sale of Peter Pan to May, McKinley Capital and RRG Capital Management, the company has been steadily building out its executive team.

In January of 2021, Jon Hickman left rival Alaska seafood processor Silver Bay to join Peter Pan as its vice president.

Last year, former American Seafoods employee Joe Guptill joined Peter Pan as its new vice president of technology.

In April, Mike Galan joined Peter Pan as the company's CFO and Mike Mussell was brought on board as the company's vice president of projects, ingredients and canning.

In 2021, Peter Pan made the unprecedented move of announcing publicly at the start of the season what it would pay fishermen for the salmon they harvest in Bristol Bay and Copper River.

Traditionally, Alaska salmon processor refrained from posting a base price early in the season, but since Peter Pan's move other major processors have followed suit and announced early-season base prices.

The company operates processing facilities in Dillingham, King Cove, Port Moller, and Valdez with headquarters in Bellevue, Washington.