Another Seattle refugee moves to Edmonds

Keyport, a nationwide seafood producer, lands on Fifth Avenue S
By Brian Soergel | Feb 01, 2018
Courtesy of: Keyport LLC Mark Pedersen: “There’s just a good energy there. And it’s going to be to great to go where we can participate more in the community.”

Two major Seattle businesses that have moved to Edmonds does not a trend make, but it certainly seems like a sign of the times.

Keyport, a seafood producer and food manufacturer, plans to officially open its doors Feb. 2 at 654 Fifth Ave. S with 20-plus employees, having made the move from Shilshole Avenue NW in Ballard.

Interestingly, it is taking the spot formerly held by another Seattle refugee, Ten Gun Design, which moved from Pioneer Square to Fifth Avenue South, then Second Avenue South last year.

“We seem to be getting a lot of Seattle refugees, whether they be businesses or restaurants,” Edmonds Community Services and Economic Development Director Patrick Doherty said.

“There’s a lot of connection between the north end of Seattle and Edmonds. It’s been a natural progression for decades.”

Doherty ticks off the usual suspects contributing to Keyport’s move: higher costs, traffic congestion and restrictive business policies.

Keyport President and CEO Mark Pedersen, who lives in Richmond Beach, confirmed Doherty’s points, and said moving out of King County was part of the plan.

“It’s mostly quality of life,” he said. “Honestly, we’re not saving on rent. We’re paying slightly more to move to Edmonds. As owner, it’s more for our employees. I’ve always liked Ballard and the old maritime industry that I grew up in.

“But it’s becoming very unfriendly for businesses, traffic is really hard to get around in, and it’s hard to add employees and grow when people are late for work when they’re sitting in traffic for an hour.”

Of course, Edmonds’ appeal can stand on its own.

“People want more of what we have to offer – a more genuine small-town experience with a sense of urbanity,” Doherty said. “A lot of people who leave Seattle don’t want to totally give up traditional neighborhoods, that kind of thing. And we welcome any company that comes into our community and provides jobs.”

Pedersen said he sees Edmonds as a growing and thriving city, with good restaurants and breweries and new vitality from younger families moving in.

“There’s just a good energy there,” he said. “And it’s going to be to great to go where we can participate more in the community.”

(During last week’s annual report from the Edmonds Chamber of Commerce, members cheered when CEO Greg Urban announced that Keyport just that day had signed up as a member.)

“We are very excited to have Keyport relocate to Edmonds,” Mayor Dave Earling said. “They will make a great addition to our community. We’re excited that Keyport recognizes Edmonds as having a welcoming business climate, convenient location for its staff, and a high quality of life.”

Fishing around the world

Keyport was founded in 1997 by Darryl Pedersen, and is now run by Mark Pedersen and his brother, Kurt. Mark Pedersen says business is extremely good, but wouldn’t divulge financial numbers as Keyport is a privately held company.

Following the opening of a new sales office in Chapel Hill, N.C., in 2015, Keyport continued to launch new products, including its frozen seafood entrees. But its main business is crab – Dungeness, king and snow.

Keyport has a global reach, as it has processing facilities in Washington, Alaska and Norway.

Its Fifth Avenue South location is its headquarters – no fish-cutting here – but Pedersen said it will include a commercial demonstration and test kitchen, along with additional office space that will give the company flexibility to allow for continued business and employee growth.

“When we initially sent our press release announcing our move, we received 16 or 17 resumes right way,” said Pedersen, who added that his business has been doubling year after year.

In addition to distributing its crab to supermarkets, its branded foods include sockeye salmon, steamed clams and mussels, seafood ravioli, seafood chowder, seafood mac and cheese, and a fisherman’s feast including sausage and vegetables.

A maritime comeback

Although Edmonds’ history was dominated by shingle mills along the waterfront, there was an element of the maritime industry, Doherty said.

That element, with the help of Keyport, Jacobsen’s Marine, Puget Sound Express whale-watching tours, the popular fishing pier and the planned fishmonger’s store next to Starbucks by the fountain, is now making a comeback.

“Keyport and other businesses in the maritime sector want or need to be in a maritime environment; it’s part of their kind of ethos,” Doherty said.

“They’re helping to rediscover our maritime sector, and that’s a really good thing.”

 

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