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5 Questions with High Liner Foods

High Liner Foods is the largest prepared seafood processing operation in North America. Last year, the company reported $1 billion in annual sales for the first time in its 115-year history and capped a terrific 2014 by moving its US headquarters from Danvers, Mass. to the Pease International Tradeport in Portsmouth.

Keith Decker, president and COO of High Liner Foods, said of moving the business from Massachusetts to New Hampshire, “The relocation and design of the new building will help us serve our customers better and attract and retain the top talent required for continued growth into the future.”

To get some valuable insights into the business relocation process, we interviewed Jim LaBelle, vice president of food service marketing, and Mark Leslie, vice president of business integration and special projects, at High Liner Foods. Both worked directly with Michael Bergeron, senior business development manager at the Division of Economic Development, to facilitate the move.

High Liner Foods invested $1 million in its test kitchen.

High Liner Foods invested $1 million in its test kitchen.

Thinking back to the beginning of your relocation process, what were the biggest factors that inspired you to explore the idea of relocating?

The biggest factor for us was we sold our existing facility to a company that needed our production space, which we no longer needed. That necessitated a need to find a new office facility for our US headquarters team.

What were the main reasons New Hampshire came out on top for you?

We wanted to be closer to our production facility, which is in Portsmouth. We wanted a modern but affordable solution that could be a showcase facility for our employees and customers. And we wanted a standalone building. New Hampshire rose to the top with all three of our criteria.

You worked with Michael Bergeron at DED during your relocation project. What were two or three of the most helpful things he did for you?

Michael helped us put together an initial meeting with city officials to discuss a couple of outstanding issues before we selected the site, put us in touch with local health officials to work through permitting issues, and explained potential government economic development incentives available to us in New Hampshire. He was invaluable throughout the process.
What advice would you give to other companies exploring a move to another state?

It’s important to develop a network of local experts and officials that you can reach out to when issues arise for resolution input. It’s also helpful to understand what economic development opportunities and incentives might be available.

What’s next for High Liner Foods? What big things do you have planned for 2015?

At High Liner Foods, we’re focused on bringing our customers innovative, on-trend seafood products to help them succeed, so that is always our main priority. We’re also excited to now be able to host our customers in a world-class facility in a world-class community.

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