The Business of Seattle's Fishermen's Terminal
BY Kasey Wehrum
A look at the companies that supply the busy port of Seattle with docks, nets, and life rings.
Concrete floating docks
These docks, installed in 2008 by Shoreside Marinas of Bellingham, Washington, have a polystyrene core that lets them rise and fall with the tides. Shoreside, which has about 50 employees, has worked on more than 800 marina projects on the Pacific Coast. The $10 million company is run by Kevin Sluys, who founded it with his father in 1982.
Life ring cabinets
Fiberglass cabinets made by Cheyenne Manufacturing, a 15-person company in Brush Prairie, Washington, protect life rings and safety ropes along the docks from the elements. Cheyenne's founder, Sue Silagy, started selling fiberglass gardening carts in 1979. Three years later, the Port of Seattle asked her to make life ring cabinets using the same material. Today, they represent 75 percent of Cheyenne's $2 million in annual sales and line docks in a dozen countries, including Japan and Mexico.
The Alaskan salmon season lasts only from June to November. To make the most of it, the Anita casts a nylon net that is 100 feet deep and 1,500 feet long. The net, made by Diamond Nets of Everson, Washington, surrounds a school of fish and cinches closed -- a technique called purse seining. Ed Powers founded Diamond Nets in 1972. His son Les is now president of the $4 million company, which has 30 employees.
On his best day, Paul Matson, captain of the Anita, caught 150,000 pounds of Alaskan salmon. Hauling in the nets was made easier by this mechanized pulley, called a power block, made by MARCO Global, the Seattle branch of the MARCO Group. Power blocks helped transform the commercial fishing industry when they were invented in 1953, the year Peter Schmidt founded MARCO. In addition to the Seattle branch, now run by Schmidt's son, Gus, the 900-employee company has operations in Peru, Chile, and Ecuador.