Mike Glavan came from the Old Country, in this case Croatia, to mine for shrimp and oysters. His tool was a net.
"Golden Mike" was so good at weaving his own shrimp nets, with designs dreamed up in his head, that he outcaught other Slavonians who came to work in the seafood industry. |
Friends kept bugging him to make nets for them, but even Glavan couldn't make nets and fish at the same time. So the fishermen made a promise: Open a trawl company and we will patronize you.
In 1937, Glavan turned an Oak Street cottage into Glavan Trawl Manufacturing Co., and began designing, repairing and making nets on Biloxi's Point Cadet.
"My father was known to be one of the best trawlmakers in this region," Herb Glavan said with pride.
In 1951, Golden Mike's son took over the business.
"The 1950s and '60s were the golden years for seafood," said Herb Glavan, now 73. "We didn't have any imports to fight, the fishermen were able to get decent money for their catch, and the cost of diesel wasn't so high."
At one point, Glavan Trawl had 20 employees.
Then came Hurricane Camille. Of the six or so trawl companies in Biloxi, Glavan was the only one wiped out. It took 1½ years to build back and by then his customers were patronizing others. Glavan filled his car with gas and headed to other fishing areas along the Gulf to solicit net orders.
It worked and that business was augmented by the return of local customers.
When legal gambling came, developers eyed Glavan's valuable land near Casino Row. But business was good, his children and grandchildren had grown up in it and he didn't want to throw in the proverbial trawl towel.
Glavan says he was the only "home-grown" Biloxi trawl manufacturer left when Katrina struck. There was a Vietnamese trawl company and some of these latest immigrants to Biloxi seafood also made nets at home, but the American-born trawl maker/designer was a rare breed.
Katrina took the 68-year-old trawl company.
"I will try everything in my power to build back my business on the same location or on another piece of property I have been considering," Glavan said, again with pride.
- KAT BERGERON