Taku Smokeries/Fisheries changes ownership

Posted: Tuesday, December 10, 2002

Sandro Lane has sold his stake in Taku Smokeries and Taku Fisheries, the Juneau companies he started at his home in 1983. The Gallizio family, which has owned 50 percent of the shares of the parent company since 1992, will take over the operation of the business at the end of this month.

"Basically, you have to look at all your opportunities in life and at a certain point you also have to start thinking about exit opportunities," Lane said. "I could have bought them out, but I opted to sell it to them."

Giovanni Gallizio, who lives and does business in Los Angeles, will play a primary role in the company's management when his family assumes full ownership. His title has not been set by the board of directors of SASSCo, Inc., the parent firm of the smokeries and fisheries. Giorgio Gallizio, Giovanni Gallizio's uncle and a member of the SASSCo board of directors, lives in Juneau five months out of the year.

Lane started Taku Smokeries and Taku Fisheries in the garage of his Mendenhall Valley home with $30,000 borrowed from his mother. He repaid the loan within four years and was the sole owner of the business for nine years. In 1986, the business moved to a facility near the Alaska Brewing Co. in Lemon Creek. It moved to its current South Franklin location when the Gallizio family bought 50 percent of the company in 1992.

Lane said he will assume the position of CEO of Round Gold LLC. Joe Brotherton and Dan Nelson formed Round Gold earlier this year after they acquired the assets of Cossack Caviar, a fish processing company that declared bankruptcy this spring. Lane said he has been working informally with Brotherton and Nelson for 1 1/2 years. Brotherton and Nelson each own businesses in Alaska and live in Seattle.

Round Gold will focus on producing fish hydrolysate, a high-protein sludge produced from fish carcasses. The hydrolysate can be used in fertilizers and as a food supplement for animals. Lane, who has a master's degree in fisheries, said he is excited to apply his knowledge in areas other than salmon processing.

"I'm looking forward to the prospect of charting some unknown waters, pioneering, carving my own path," Lane said.

Lane will stay in Juneau and plans to remain active on the ad-hoc fisheries advisory committee for Juneau and as chairman of the board for the Alaska Seafood Marketing Institute. His wife, Sharon, will leave the company as well. She ran retail operations at the company for the last three years, Sandro Lane said.

The Gallizio family, which owns businesses in Southern California, Southeast Asia, Italy and Alaska, plans to keep the current management system in place at Taku Smokeries and Taku Fisheries. Eric Norman, who has been the manager of the company's fishery division for the last seven years, will expand his role to that of general manager beginning Jan. 1.

"We'll try to do a little bit more and a little bit better every year," Norman said. "We'll expand the business by taking measured steps and watching out for the problems out there."

Taku Smokeries and Taku Fisheries steadily increased its business in recent years, despite setbacks in the fishing industry in Southeast Alaska, Norman said. He plans no specific changes to make in the business in the immediate future, apart from hiring additional employees in administration and sales.

Giovanni Gallizio will visit Juneau at least once a month when Norman takes over as general manager, Gallizio said.

The Twisted Fish, a restaurant located in the Taku Smokeries building and owned by the Damitio family in Juneau, will continue to lease its space from the Gallizio family. The restaurant was founded by Giorgio Gallizio as Giorgio's on the Pier in 1995. The Damitios have owned it since 1999. Taku Smokeries will continue to supply seafood to both Twisted Fish locations, in Juneau and Palm Springs, Calif.

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