The Bellingham/Whatcom Chamber of Commerce is pleased to be offering its first “Industry Close-up Tour presented by Banner Bank” at Bornstein Seafoods.  Bornstein is a successful local company with a long heritage.

Bornstein Seafoods was founded in Bellingham in 1934 by Meyer A. Bornstein, during the Great Depression. In 1980 it passed to his son, Jay, who led the company to its expansion on the West Coast. Processing capabilities and buying stations now stretched from S.E. Alaska through Canada, Washington, Oregon, and Northern California.

With processing plants located in Bellingham, Astoria, and Newport Oregon, an unloading station in Brookings and a retail market in Warrenton, Or, Bornstein employs around 350 people. In Bellingham alone they employ 100-150 during the peak seasons. As Bornstein grows, there are opportunities for current employees to grow as well through the practice of internal advancement.

In 2010, Jay’s son Colin became the CEO, and works with his brothers Kyle and Andrew. They follow Bornstein’s tradition of growth in initiatives by focusing on quality, productivity, professionalism and teamwork with staff, fishing partners, and customers.

Below is an interview with CEO, Colin Bornstein and Sales Assistant, Alison Vaughan

What changes has Bornstein seen over the past few years?

There have been many positive changes in the industry over the past several years. One in particular is the West Coast Groundfish Fishery. After being deemed “over harvested” in the early 90’s, as an industry (Fishermen, processors, government, NGO) we set out to set parameters that would allow for the stocks to be rebuilt. In 2015 90% of the fisheries we set out to rebuild have surpassed the targeted goals. The fishery went through a certification called MSC (Marine Stewardship Council) that certifies the sustainability of the fishery and is the first multi-species fishery to get the certification.  This means in the end as consumers we can know the fish is being harvested sustainably, as well as the fishermen and processors know that we will have an abundance of these species to harvest and sell.


What gets the management team most excited about Bornstein’s future?

I think management gets excited about the future of Bornstein because we are continually focused on growing.  We are committed to building systems that allow us to share information throughout the company which allows our managers to make quick decisive decisions.  With our customers in mind we are always trying to make their experience better and continue to strive for excellence.


What can you tell us about your sustainability policy?

Sustainability is important at Bornstein Seafoods, and we continue to focus on all aspects. The obvious is our fish. Most of the fisheries that we participate in have a third party managed sustainability status. The less obvious, would be our commitment on our consumables. Packaging, etc…we strive to have green recyclable materials when available.


What are Bornstein’s plans for growth and development?

Our plans are to both diversify our processing capabilities and increase our current processing capacity.  We want to continue to evolve our capabilities to ensure we can keep up with consumer demand.  We understand the trends are changing and we must be on the forefront of the changes.


What is the forecast for the future of the industry?

The future looks bright for the seafood industry. Our commitment for sustainable harvests have paid dividends to the health of the ocean and the fish we process. We have challenges as a local processor. For example, 92% of all seafood consumed in the U.S. comes from outside the U.S.  As a west coast USA processor that means that we need to continue to educate the consumers that we have good seafood harvested and processed right here in the United States.

To learn more about Bornstein Seafood, go to their website

Member businesses are welcome to join the Industry Close-Up Tour at Bornstein Seafoods tour on Wed., January 10 from 12-2:00 p.m.  The event includes a waterfront redevelopment update from Port of Bellingham Executive Director, Rob Fix.  The cost of admission is $25 and includes lunch.  Members can learn more on our events calendar by clicking here! Thank you to the Industry Close-Up Tour presenting sponsor, Banner Bank!