Processor of the Month: Pete Blalock of Blalock Seafood

Name: Pete Blalock

Name of Business: Blalock Seafood

Business Address: 24822 Canal Rd, Orange Beach, AL / 1911 Gulf Shores Pkwy, Gulf Shores, AL

Business Phone Number: 251-974-5811 / 251-968-5811

Website: blalockseafood.net

Alabama Gulf Seafood that your business processes: Fish, Shrimp, Crab, Oysters

Where were you born and raised?

Born in Selma in 1953 and moved to Orange Beach in 1964. I’ve been here ever since. We started going to the Gulf for vacations. My parents got a house so we could go during the summer. My dad said we’d move there when he retired, but we loved it so much we just went and stayed. I guess it’s like all of us that get a little sand in our toes—you go until you stay so long you never leave.

How did you come to work in Alabama’s seafood industry?

Started taking orders and delivering them in my Ford extended bed with camper shell. Been in business for 25-30 years. We started out wholesale delivering to restaurants in Baldwin County and Perdido Key, and when the business grew we got into retail. I opened our first retail market about 15 years ago and since then we’ve opened stores in Orange Beach, Gulf Shores, and Destin.

What other jobs have you held within Alabama’s seafood industry?

Before getting into the seafood industry I worked in the restaurant business—part owner of Cotton’s Restaurant and Gulf Gate Lodge.

What types of seafood do you process/handle?

We don’t do a lot of processing, but what we do is primarily repacking oysters, West Indies Salad—that sort of thing. We function primarily as a full line distributor.

What does your typical workday involve?

I get to work about 7am. I like to try to get some paperwork in before the phones start ringin’. The crews get in about 8:30. From there we either pack the wholesale trucks for delivery or send for pick up. The retail guys get the shop ready to open, and the rest of the day we handle retail customers. I work about a 12-hour day–I work hard in the summer to help offset the slower winter months. The winter isn’t as bad as it used to be though; Thanksgiving and New Year’s the traffic picks up, but rest of the time it’s pretty slow. The snowbirds help a little bit.

What makes your company/organization stand out within Alabama’s seafood industry?

Three things are important in business: competitive pricing, a quality product, and service. That’s where we stand out the most. People are glad they’re here and we want them to come back. We have stand-out service and a quality product. I have return customers that have been coming for 15 years. They’ll stop on the way to the beach, come back several times while they’re here, and then stop for a cooler on their way back.

What is the most unusual thing that’s ever happened to you on the job?

About three years ago, I got a call from the chamber that Adam Richman of “Man v. Food Nation” wanted to come by the store and film. They filmed for 4-5 hours and interacted with the crowd that came in. It was right after the spill. They wanted to show that Alabama seafood was safe and as good as it ever way.

What makes Alabama Gulf Seafood special?

That’s easy: quality and taste of the product. People think farm-raised shrimp are so pretty, and they are, but you boil them and they have no taste. Alabama red is good with nothing on it.

Auburn or Alabama?

I love the Alabama Crimson Tide.

If you didn’t work in the Alabama seafood industry, what line of work would you pursue?

Hospitality or sales. My family is in sales. Dad worked in sales and my brother is in real estate. My wife and son work with me at the store. My daughter did too but she went to Vanderbilt Law School. I hope one day my son will take over the business from me when I’m ready to rest.