Processor of the Month: Ralph Atkins of Southern Fish & Oyster Co.

Ralph Atkins is the owner of Southern Fish & Oyster Co., Inc. in Mobile, Ala.

Name: Ralph L. Atkins Jr.
Name of Business: Southern Fish & Oyster Co. Inc.
Business Address: 1 Eslava Street, Mobile, AL 36601
Business Phone Number: 251-438-2408

Processes: Fish, Shrimp, Crabs & Oysters

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

Well, growing up in the business had me heading shrimp as young as eight years old. I have been full time at Southern Fish since May of 1966. In 1980, I bought my father, Ralph Atkins Sr., out of the business.

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

I sat on the board of directors for the Alabama Seafood Association, and I’ve been a member of Southeastern Fisheries, a chairman of the Seafood Task Force, and most recently involved in Gov. Bentley’s Alabama Seafood Marketing Commission.

What types of seafood do you process and handle?

Southern Fish processes fish and shrimp, but we primarily handle crabmeat, blue crabs, oysters, fish and shrimp.

What does your typical workday involve?

I begin my workday at 5:30 each morning. I begin calling dealers I trade and do business with along the Gulf Coast. By 9:00 a.m., I’ve secured my local, fresh products, and I begin picking them up anywhere from Baldwin County to the Mississippi Gulf Coast. Between 12:00 p.m.-1:00 p.m., I’m back at Southern Fish and we begin the distribution process to the wholesale markets.

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

Our 78 years in production makes us unique in that aspect. But we stand out in our downtown Mobile location with our traditional French market atmosphere and our emphasis on fresh and locally caught seafood.

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

In a matter of three months, the Sundance Channel and the Travel Channel called us and we got to partake in two reality shows: “Man vs. Food” and “Ludo Bites America.” It was so random, but both were awesome experiences, and I loved the free advertisement.

What’s your favorite seafood dish to serve up for yourself and your family?

Crabmeat pies. They are staples in our household and one of our signature dishes among our friends. Who can hate lump crabmeat, cheese and a buttery crust?