Beck & Bulow in Alaska

Beck & Bulow co-owner Tony Beck, left, and Christian Probst stand over processed salmon at the company’s new seafood processing facility on Kodiak Island in Alaska.

Seafood now comes directly from Beck & Bulow‘s recently acquired production facility on Kodiak Island in Alaska to Beck & Bulow’s 6-month-old butcher shop on Cerrillos Road.

Business partners Tony Beck and J.P. Bulow in early September bought a 7,500-square-foot seafood processing plant in Alaska to eliminate the middleman.

They now have direct access to whatever their shipping partners haul into the nation’s third-largest seafood producing harbor (the other two are along the Aleutian Islands, too).

Things are looking good for Beck & Bulow entering fall 2021 after the wild ride of the past COVID-19 year.

A year back, the duo wrestled with seafood supply shortages and a lack of retail outlet or online sales, and its restaurant client list plummeted from 250 to about 50 as eateries were limited to delivery and takeout.

Fast-forward to now. Beck and Bulow could recover and build their restaurant clientele to 270 in Santa Fe and stretch a bit into Colorado and Texas, plus increase nationwide distribution of meat and seafood.

The butcher shop opened in March and now accounts for 40 percent of Beck & Bulow’s business, about the same as the restaurant service, along with 20 percent online sales.

Annual revenue tripled from last year to $2.5 million, and Beck and Bulow see no reason for it not to reach $5 million in the next couple of years.

“We’ve had our best year,” Beck said. “The retail butcher shop has been wildly successful.”

With the Kodiak facility just in its opening weeks, seafood so far has made up only about 30 percent of business at the retail shop, but in the next year, the duo believe meat and seafood could be 50-50 at the butcher shop.

So far, all the Kodiak facility seafood has gone to the butcher shop, but Beck and Bulow are starting to approach restaurants to take their seafood.

They stress it is all wild-caught in Alaska.

They are processing salmon, halibut, sablefish, king crab, snow crab, Dungeness crab and scallops.

“We can ship straight to restaurants from Alaska,” Bulow said.

Bulow said they own the smallest fish-processing plant on Kodiak among the giant processors. They bought the company that had been their supplier since they started their Beck & Bulow American bison-focused wholesale butcher business in 2018.

“Any place you get seafood, it goes through one or two distributors,” Bulow said. “This is straight from the source.”

Their production facility has cold storage and full processing capabilities. They will be able to process about 5,000 pounds of seafood per day, compared with the million pounds a day at other Kodiak processors, Beck said.

Beck and Bulow spoke to The New Mexican last week while they were on Kodiak Island. Bulow said he will stay there until December.

“We never thought we would be here,” Bulow said. “Things just lined up.”

Beck and Bulow also want to expand in Santa Fe. They currently have their 2,000-square-foot warehouse on Jorgensen Lane and the butcher shop on Cerrillos Road, and they raise their own American bison on 20,000 leased acres south of Madrid and 5,000 leased acres in San Miguel County.

Bulow acknowledged butcher shop and local restaurant business has a limit, but the online sales, launched by necessity early in the pandemic, are the key for the future.

They received a $250,000 Local Economic Development Act grant in April from the the New Mexico Economic Development Department. They are looking for about 10,000 square feet of warehouse space in Santa Fe to serve as a fulfillment center for online sales of Beck & Bulow meat and seafood.

“Online is going to be the long-term player,” Beck said.

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