New owner to take over Ketchikan seafood plant

Posted: Friday, February 21, 2003

KETCHIKAN - A Ketchikan fish plant scheduled to close this year will remain in business under the son of its founder.

E.C. Phillips & Son announced Wednesday that Cliff Phillips, son of the company namesake, and associates have reached a purchase commitment with Wards Cove Packing for the former E.C. Phillips plant in Ketchikan and associated facilities in Craig.

Wards Cove has had a majority interest in E.C. Phillips & Son since 1973, according to company information, and full ownership since 1994.

On Dec. 12, Wards Cove announced it was ending its salmon business in Alaska and would sell its salmon processing plants, including two in Ketchikan - E.C. Phillips & Son downtown and the Wards Cove cannery in Ward Cove.

E.C. Phillips remained open after the announcement because it also processes fish other than salmon. Wards Cove was planning to shut it down around the end of March.

According to the announcement Wednesday, the 2003 fishing season will be conducted under the umbrella of the new ownership.

Cliff Phillips confirmed that the new entity would operate during the upcoming salmon season. He didn't give further details, saying the deal was not yet complete.

The company was started by E.C. Phillips in 1932, according to Wards Cove information. It became a partnership in 1942 with Phillips, his wife, and his son, Cliff.

In recent years, the company has participated in several Southeast Alaska fisheries, including salmon, rockfish, halibut, geoduck clams and sea cucumbers.

The Ketchikan plant also has a cold-storage capacity of 2.5 million pounds, according to Wards Cove. And it has operated a buying station at Craig.

The company has employed more than 200 people during the peak of the fishing season, according to Wards Cove.

The fate of the plant in Ward Cove still isn't clear.

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