Food News

After 103 Years, Seattle Fish Co. Has a New Owner

An American red snapper.
An American red snapper. Seattle Fish Co.
With a name like Seattle Fish Co., Coloradans are often surprised to learn that the venerable seafood company was started here. Now, after serving the state for 103 years, owner James Iacino has sold the family business to Armand Agra, a Founders Company.

"Change can be powerful, and I have appreciated my time with the Iacinos, but I'm looking forward to the new chapter," says Derek Figueroa, CEO and president of Seattle Fish Co. "It's a fairytale sort of thing. We're keeping the best of everything but still providing for the future."

The sale of the Denver-based company wasn't a quick decision. Prior to the sale, Iacino stepped down as the company's CEO and handed off day-to-day operations to Figueroa, who has worked for Seattle Fish Co. for over thirty years. Iacino wanted to focus on other things — mainly, a career in politics (he ran for Congress in 2020). With new passions on the horizon, the family slowly started looking for a new owner.

"It's an intentional change, and we went into it as a leadership team, with a purpose," says Figueroa. "James is a third-generation owner, and we talked to him about what the future of the company looked like. It became apparent that we could find someone — not sell to the highest bidder, but find that next-generational company that could help us grow."
click to enlarge Prepping sustainable fish at Seattle Fish Co. - SEATTLE FISH CO.
Prepping sustainable fish at Seattle Fish Co.
Seattle Fish Co.

Figueroa expects much of the business to remain the same, and then, he says, he expects it to expand for the better. Armand Agra, like Seattle Fish Co., is a family-run company. Its offices are in Nevada, and it also owns Sierra Meat and Seafood, Flocchini Family Provisions, Durham Ranch and the MacDonald Meat Co. It's a holding company, which means that while it's part of Founders, the Flocchini family owns and operates the aforementioned businesses, as it's done since starting up in the 1930s. In the future, Seattle Fish Co. may carry other meats from Armand Agra's brands, which all follow the Denver company's ideology of being sustainable and thoughtful with a focus on regenerative farming and fishing methods.

"Introducing the fishermen and farmers to the chefs, that's what we do," says Figueroa, adding that the full Seattle Fish Co. staff and operations will remain in Colorado. "The full name is Seattle Fish Co. & Gourmet Provisions, so there's room for other specialty proteins that are responsibly sourced and fit in with our customers' needs."
click to enlarge The raw bar at Stoic & Genuine. - BRYAN GRANT
The raw bar at Stoic & Genuine.
Bryan Grant

Seattle Fish Co. started in 1918, when sixteen-year-old Mose Iacino began packing fresh fish in sawdust and ice in order to ship it from Seattle to downtown Denver via railcar. Since then, the company grew with the city and was always run by the Iacino family, up until the official sale on November 12. It's built a long history of good business practices, and the company has worked with great Colorado chefs for decades.

As for those longtime customers of Seattle Fish Co.?

"I don't see any reason why we shouldn't [keep using them]. Things change. We roll with the punches, and we have good faith that we will get the same good customer service and support when it comes to sustainability and education," says Tim Kuklinski, culinary director for that Crafted Concepts restaurant group, which includes Rioja, Ultreia and Stoic & Genuine and has been using Seattle Fish Co. for over fifteen years. "If those things change, well, we'll see in the future, but right now everything is looking great."
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Linnea Covington moved back to Denver after spending thirteen years in New York City and couldn't be happier to be home, exploring the Mile High and eating as much as possible, especially when it involves pizza or ice cream.
Contact: Linnea Covington