Ketchikan processing plant gets new owner

Posted: Friday, February 21, 2003

KETCHIKAN (AP) -- A Ketchikan fish plant that was scheduled for shutdown this year will instead 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 had 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 terminating its salmon business in Alaska and would be selling its salmon processing plants, including two in Ketchikan, E.C. Phillips & Son downtown and the Wards Cove cannery in Wards Cove.

E.C. Phillips remained open after the announcement because of its participation in non-salmon fisheries. Wards Cove was planning to shut it down around the end of March.

According to the brief 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.

In addition to processing, the Ketchikan plant has a cold storage capacity of 2.5 million pounds, according to Wards Cove information. It has also operated a buying station at Craig.

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

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



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