Charles H. Bundrant

Charles H. Bundrant is the Chairman and founder of Trident Seafoods, America’s largest and most successful seafood company.

Early Life

Bundrant grew up in Evansville, Indiana on Darmstadt Road attending school at Stringtown and North High School. He worked as a bagger and shelf stocker at Economy Foods, across from where North High School was located at the time. After school and on Saturdays, he could log 40 hours per week. During the summer, he worked 80 hours per week, guided, in many ways, by his manager and mentor, Luther Caine. Bundrant still communicates with him today.

Trident Seafoods

Bundrant briefly attended college at Middle Tennessee State University but after watching the movie “North to Alaska,” a John Wayne epic of the Alaska gold rush, he headed to the 50th state to make his own gold rush in the fishing industry.

While he returned to Tennessee several times to visit his parents and grandmother, Bundrant ultimately abandoned the idea of obtaining his degree and instead made Alaska his home. That’s where he founded Trident Seafoods in 1973 with one crab boat and two partners.

Since that time, his company has been responsible for multiple innovations in the fishing industry, one of which was to both catch and process crab on the same vessel. And Bundrant was no novice.

Trident Seafoods leads the Alaskan seafood industry in the production of crab, canned sockeye salmon, and frozen Bristol Bay sockeye. Trident pollock, salmon, crab and other seafood are regular items at a variety of large restaurant chains and retail stores such as Burger King, Costco and Trader Joe’s.

Trident is worth $500 million and has a payroll of more than 4,000 workers with a network of 10 shore-side plants and more than two dozen vessels.

Trident Seafoods Corporation is the most successful privately held, “All American-owned” seafood processor in Alaska and the Pacific Northwest.

Tyson Foods

Bundrant briefly considered selling to Tyson Foods when its top man, Don Tyson, sought to add seafood to his chicken-based empire. “He said he wanted to be the biggest and the best and offered me a lot of stock and cash,” Bundrant said. “It was very tempting.”

Bundrant passed and a few years later bought out Tyson’s Alaska fleet and shore holdings.

Trident Seafoods Today

Today Trident leads the Alaska seafood industry in the production of crab, canned sockeye salmon, and frozen Bristol Bay sockeye. Trident also ranks among the state’s top five producers of pollock, cod, herring, and canned pink salmon. But the company has not forgotten its roots. “Make no mistake, our success begins with the fishermen,” Bundrant says. Evidence of that partnership lines the walls and covers the bulletin boards through the firm’s Seattle headquarters. Scores of photographs pay tribute to the strength of the vessels and the determination of the fishermen who literally put their lives on the line to bring fresh product to the company’s Alaska facilities. Trident operates seven major primary processing plants in Alaska, including a Southeast pink salmon cannery in Ketchikan; Bristol Bay sockeye salmon canning and freezing operations in North and South Naknek; and diversified processing plants handling Alaska pollock, Pacific cod, Black cod, halibut and crab in Akutan, Sand Point, Kodiak and St. Paul. With the acquisition of the Tyson Seafood Group assets in 1999, primary processing plants for groundfish were added in Kodiak, Alaska and Newport, Oregon. Included also was a fleet of factory trawlers and fishing vessels that have greatly added to the production of groundfish fillets, blocks, surimi and roe.

Evansville Contributions

In 2010, Bundrant was named a member of the inaugural class of the EVSC Foundation Hall of Fame for his successes after high school. He’s also been a strong supporter of his alma mater. In fact, three structures on the campus are named in some way because of his support: Bundrant Stadium; the Charles L. and Algie M. Bundrant Media Center (named for his parents); and the Joe and Marie Schultheis Science Laboratory Classroom (named for his in-laws).

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