C.F. Gollott opened his D'Iberville seafood factory in 1932, a step up from when he and his dad caught and peddled a local bounty of shrimp, fish and oysters. C.F. was joined by his son Arny, known as A.C., and they built up the business by selling on the Mississippi Coast and in other states. |
The processing plant and a seafood market for the fresh catch hummed along, with occasional breaks to rebuild after hurricanes. That was the price for owning a waterfront business, but in good years the Gulf catch was plentiful.
When A.C. took over, his five sons joined him at C.F. Gollott & Son at the foot of Central Avenue. Brian, Arny, Nicky, Dale and Ben each learned a different aspect of the business, and when A.C. retired, the five kept going.
Katrina destroyed the processing plant and seafood market, as well as the five brothers' homes.
"We are building back the processing plant bigger and with better technology," Brian Gollott said. "We hope to have it completed for our May shrimp season."
Gollott paused and laughed. "If the stars line up, if everything goes right, we will achieve that." A shortage of building supplies and untimely deliveries of equipment could be a holdup.
The processing plant specializes in Gulf shrimp, the local catch and harvests from other Gulf states.
"With the new equipment we can process about 1,100 an hour with one machine, and we now will have six peeling machines," Brian said. "It's not like the old days when this was done by hand. The equipment will do what we want - dehead, peel, devein.
"Our market is Gulf, wild-caught shrimp. The only time we use imports is to keep workers busy on the off-seasons, but we don't focus on it. All the chefs in the United States know where the best shrimp in the world comes from - our coastal waters."
Once the processing plant is operating, the Gollotts will turn their attention to reopening the seafood market patronized by locals and tourists.
"This hurricane completely destroyed us," Gollott said, "but we're survivors. It's just in the genes."
- KAT BERGERON