Shore to satisfy seafood cray-vings, Shediac Lobster Shop for 77 years
Posted on April 14, 2023 | By Alexander Chafe | 0 Comments
From the world’s lobster capital, Shediac Lobster Shop has been in operation for over 50 years. What started as a door-to-door sales operation has grown into a major lobster processor with exports across the globe.
Earnest Maillet founded Shediac Lobster Shop in 1946 in Shediac, N.B. In the early days, Maillet commuted in his Chevy pick-up truck to Cape Breton and brought fresh lobster back to his hometown to sell door-to-door. Later formalizing operations, in 1952 Earnest opened a canteen on Main Street, where he sold cooked lobster, ice cream and other snacks during the local lobster fishing season.
Canteen sales remained the business’ only source of revenue until 1958 when it acquired its initial fish processing license. Cooked lobster was shucked by hand, packaged in tin cans and shipped to wholesale customers in Montréal and the U.S. Maillet slowly grew business from a solo operation to having a team of 45 employees.
The next generation
In 1967, Earnest’s son Hector joined him in business and in 1968 Shediac Lobster Shop was officially incorporated. As Hector gained ownership and progressed to general manager, the business’ exports in the U.S. expanded to include Boston, New York and Florida.
Representing the third generation, Hector’s sons Gilles and Serge eventually took over operations. Thinking about his reason for joining the family business, Serge shared: “For me, the most important thing is keeping our grandfather’s legacy alive.”
To maintain growth, Shediac Lobster Shop continuously invested in new technology. In 2014, the company purchased a new high-pressure processing machine to increase efficiency. Serge commented: “We’re always reinvesting in the company in terms of technology and our technically advanced operations are among some of the best.”
According to Serge, this investment in technology helps Shediac Lobster Shop maintain the quality that they’ve become known for. “Nobody knows good lobster like the people of N.B., so when they push your product it’s a sign that you’re doing something right.”
The lobster processor now ships a variety of raw and cooked products around the world to wholesale customers in Canada, the U.S., Europe, China and Japan. To organize operations, the business created three divisions: Shediac Lobster Shop is its processing facility, Pointe du Chene Seafood is its holding facility for live lobster and Shediac Bay Fisheries is its trucking division.
Three generations strong
Today, Shediac Lobster Shop continues to process all of its lobster products in its hometown. Still fully owned by the Maillet family, Gilles and Serge lead a team of about 250 employees and a plant that’s capable of processing about eight to ten million pounds of lobster each year. As an homage to their grandfather, the brothers also continue to operate the original canteen window on Main Street.
Looking to the future, Serge says: “We’re always looking to grow with new technology and techniques.” As he works side-by-side with his brother, he has a major sense of pride since “not all businesses last through three generations.”
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