Seafood producer Keyport leaving Ballard over ‘challenging business climate’

One of Ballard’s largest fishing-related businesses, Keyport is pulling its seafood business out of Ballard and moving its corporate office to Edmonds.

“Seattle has been our home for 20 years, and its increasingly challenging business climate makes it a good time to move,” said Mark Pedersen, Keyport’s President & CEO, in a statement. “Edmonds is a business friendly, maritime community that will allow us to expand our business and offers our staff less traffic and a safe environment.”

A story in the Everett Herald cited more specific reasons for Keyport’s move: “increased traffic, a homeless camp that opened for a time next to his business and anti-business rhetoric from City Hall, as well as the $15 minimum wage enacted by the city.”

Located on Shilshole Ave. against Salmon Bay, Keyport’s corporate office employees about 40 people, depending on the season. All of them will be making the move to Edmonds, Keyport’s Matthew Bleeker told My Ballard. Keyport leased its space along Salmon Bay, and the company’s new facilities in Edmonds include additional office space and a test kitchen.

Keyport is one of the largest distributors of King, Snow and Dungeness crab around the world. It’s also expanding into frozen seafood entrees — like seafood mac & cheese — and the company said it needed more space to grow.

The company has a sales office in Chapel Hill, NC and processing operations elsewhere in Washington State as well as Norway.

Geeky Swedes

The founders of My Ballard

48 thoughts to “Seafood producer Keyport leaving Ballard over ‘challenging business climate’”

  1. Sounds like a good move for them. I doubt the property owners will have much trouble finding new tenants that appreciate what Ballard has to offer in terms of walkability, entertainment, public transit, restaurants and views!

  2. I wish them the best up in Edmunds. Its likely that many of their employees will have a shorter commute, and also less homeless to deal with. It’s hard to run some types of business that require manual labor and pay $15 an hour.

    How many lobster companies operate in the inner harbor of Boston? Cod producers in Manhattan? Ballard is not too far off those other places.

    Now for the vacant property—- Is the best use really to employ another 30-50 marine oriented jobs, or would maximizing the value of the land be turning it into 30 waterfront condos for $1.25M each or a 5 story facebook/apple/google ect. office? It won’t be too much longer that all the land owners will want to change the arcane maritime use land restriction laws they fought so hard to enact.

  3. Wouldn’t be surprised to see additional exits from long-time maritime businesses.

    There really is a squeeze put on them 1) Much of the city council doesn’t appear to value their contribution, 2) transportation is poor and getting worse, and 3) the city hasn’t managed the homeless issue despite our “crisis” designation. Add to that the economics of cheaper rents and for many maritime business owners the decision may be an easy one.

    Different business, though, will take their place.

  4. As one of the largest distributor of King, Snow and Dungeness crab in the world, surely they can afford a living wage for their workers. Especially if they are saving so much money from their move and are able to expand their business. C’mon now . . . :)

  5. Geeky Swedes, both you and the Hearld got played by the owner of this business. Not sure if he could have put more spin on it. You need to do a little more research. The business and people who work at this office are doing quite well. To try and characterize it differently is untruthful.

  6. @givemeabreak, I don’t see anything in the article to justify your comment. Nowhere that I can see is there an inference that it isn’t doing well.

    I do agree that the owner appears to be taking the move as an opportunity to take a swing at our local politicians.

  7. Typical Seattle:
    Local business leaves, and the soy brigade cheers and makes comments about carbon, etc.
    Just one encounter with a violent junkie hobo is enough to ruin a good employee – especially as many younger people are hypersensitive types – but Seattle loves its “SAFE SPACES” and “NO BAD TALK” rhetoric, amirite unless the

  8. Wait, wait, wait a gosh darn minute. They’re moving because they can’t pay the $15 an hour minimum? But, but, but these maritime jobs are family wage jobs, remember? They’re the back bone of Ballard’s economy! And hold your freakin’ horses! Maritime businesses can’t relocate. FFS, that’s why there’s so much opposition to the Burke Gilman Trail. And, and, and, aren’t they getting run out by the trail? OH, snap, it isn’t built yet. But, but, but they’re moving because there’s too much traffic? Maybe someone should build a trail on Shilshole so that the traffic can better flow.

  9. @Red Herring
    I bike commute but if you believe traffic will improve much with 20k car owning condo dwellers moving here each year I got bridge in Ballard to sell you, cheap! Hobos included free of charge!

  10. “Local business leaves, and the soy brigade cheers and makes comments about carbon, etc.”

    Then sit around with their “who farted” faces when Trump wins.

  11. @Access Hollywood, the traffic on Shilshole that is slowed down by those damn lycra wearing Lance Armstrong wannabes will improve immensely! And yes, please sell that sh!thole Ballard Bridge, we need a new one desperately.

  12. @Red Herring
    Yeah i know. Lycra is dumb unless worn by football player slapping each other on the ass after giving each other head injuries.
    I don’t wear the stuff myself, and i do get a chuckle that most cyclists enable the very people who steal their bikes. Anyway maybe we could make Seattle a “safe space” for business instead of a heroin shi*hole for lifer losers.

  13. All of the housing crisis is created by the city council that controls the land use and Zoning codes.
    The city of Seattle has been running businesses out of their boundaries for years why do you think Boeing has an added one single employee to any of it Seattle locations
    That’s okay once all the taxpayers and tax-paying businesses are gone then we’ll find out who’s who I just wish all these people with their radical ideas would form their own Nation somewhere else

  14. @john I did not infer anything, I am an acquaintence of several employees. The staff at this office primarily work as crab brokers, buying crab (much of which comes from the Russian crab fleet), and reselling to resturants and markets. Business is good.

  15. @givemeabreak – it was the comment “To try and characterize it differently is untruthful” that I don’t see a basis for. It infers that geekyswedes are mischaracterizing the situation. It seems to me they just reported the story.

    Again, I think there is some political opportunism by the owner but nothing untruthful about the article, imho.

  16. Good thing they won’t have to worry about “increasing traffic” or homeless encampments in Edmonds. haha, I’m guessing they have never actually set foot in the city.

  17. Wait a second—this guy is complaining, first, about the homeless problem and, then, about having to pay a living wage?

    Hmmm. I’m going to guess he never got high marks for critical thinking. Or maybe he just thinks everyone else is to dumb to notice a link between the two.

  18. More than likely it is due to the fact hat Ballard is over run by the homeless. Every business is being compromised by these drug addled vagrants. I know because I have a business in Ballard right by the locks and the police do nothing to curtail the blatant theft from my business and other around. If the junkies control the are what hope does a small business have.

  19. I loved Ballard long before it lost its Scandinavian culture to the soy crowd, trendy restauarants, and condos, condos, condos. I used to own a big house with a big lot near 65th & 8th NW, the cool house has been razed now, replaced with 3 skinny 3 story condos . . .oh well. But what really loved about Ballard in the 60’s and early 70’s was the close proximity to Golden Gardens Raceway Park every Friday & Saturday night. After a full night of being a spectator and/or drag racing my car it was on to Dick’s on Holman Road for some car talk, bragging and 2 each Golden Gut Bombs. Went to the Gardens on New Years Day 2018 with my son’s and grandsons for a cruise and a photo opportunity at the “starting line” (Yes, I laid rubber with my boys laughing !) with my restored muscle car . . .Gramps still has it . . GREAT memories ! Bring back the Gobbe Shop the REAL Totems Fish & Chips (target sauce and fish are all wrong tasting). Just a chance to discuss old Ballard as I remember it from a 76 year old retired guy who’s opinions and stories don’t matter much anymore. Thanks for the space, have a great day !

  20. Thanks for your memories 240. They are greatly appreciated. Ballard was actually a pretty rough place back in the 60’s. But I think that Ballard lifestyle finally died with those 3 kids on the Taco Time pole. Time to move on – and RIP to them. The days of drag racing through Ballard are at an end. Not all change is for the worse.

  21. 240Gordy,

    Do you actually know what a condo is? Do you know the difference between a condo, rental unit, townhouse, and detached house?

    No new condos were built in this city last year and only about 10% of developments in the next three years will be condos, only one development in Ballard, which was recently converted to apartments.

    The big differences are condo owners are building equity, aren’t constantly under the threat of rental increases, have a commitment both to the building they live in and the neighborhood, and can keep kids in a school boundary zone without having to worry about being priced out of a unit and a neighborhood.

    Seattle needs thousands of 2+ bedroom condos to meet demand, instead we get thousand of “luxury” apodments and studio apartment units.

  22. Didn’t take long for the anti-homeless knuckle-draggers to come out of the bushes on this one! If you actually read the article, the reason they moved is to cut their rent…dramatically, plus to gain access to facilities that their current location can’t offer. Sure, they like to throw out hot topics like the homeless or $15/hr minimum wage to cover their tracks of why they are leaving the City they called home for 20 years (sports teams do the same thing when they skip town), but anyone with half a brain knows they are just fluff.

  23. The sentiments expressed by Keyport management are pretty straight forward and in fact are shared by a great many small business owners.

    — Challenging if not down right hostile actions enacted by the City Council and Mayor Murray.
    — $15 Now (the elephant is in the room folks) along with all the other regulations
    — Very, very poor stewardship and leadership on a host of pressing urban problems.
    — A labyrinth of excessive and cumbersome taxes and city regulations.

    It is very challenging to own a business in this type of environment. Small businesses are leaving this city and those that remain are less inclined to expand.

  24. @ econ 201 …. just the type of comments you’d expect from those who have “no grasp” of economic and have never owned a business.

    @ econ 301 … please do explain how all this works. Clearly you know more than a business owner and a person with advanced degrees from the London School of Economics. I’m sure your insights would be most compelling indeed.

  25. I actually own three businesses in this city for about fifteen years now. Adapting and evolving to one’s surroundings is part of being a good business owner. Complaining about the hand dealt to you while giving up shouldn’t be defended.

  26. @ Truth That was pretty dreadful — a petulant insult.

    Here is your chance to explain to all of us how all things works …well at least that is what you suggested and indicated you’d use a piece of folded paper and a pencil.

    Frankly I was very excited to hear your insights, economic theories–classical or discredited and well thought out analysis.

    Alas, you simply played the “tired discredited troll card”.

  27. Anyone who doesn’t believe that traffic, parking, higher costs and crime are issues for everyone in Ballard (business or resident) has either never been here or is a mis-guided apologist for the idiots in city government who want to turn the city into a car-free utopia where everyone works in “clean tech” and devotes all of their free time to social justice causes.

    The truth is that people who live in the real world drive cars, dislike rampant crime and lawlessness and cannot afford to stay in a place where costs keep going up, especially when there are alternatives. As the saying goes, people vote with their feet. The middle class left US cities in the 1960s and 70s for similar reasons (crime, failing schools, high taxes).

    If Seattle continues on the current tack where traffic is intentionally made worse, costs rise and only those working in high-tech can afford to live here you will see the same thing happen all over again where people leave and the city becomes poor and dilapidated, much as Seattle was in the 1970s and 80s. Besides this example with Keyport, it should be noted that Amazon did not even attempt to engage Seattle leaders before announcing their search for a second headquarters.

    At some point city leaders will wake up and realize that their “tax everything to make the world a better place” and “war on cars” strategies will only end in failure. Then again, these are the same clowns who were told a tax on income was illegal and unlikely to win court challenges and made it a top legislative priority anyways.


    If what you say is true, then the only people that will be left is tech people who will have a lot of money. I’m perfectly fine if all the old people move away, would make the city a lot more fun.

  29. @Econ 101: “I actually own three businesses in this city for about fifteen years now.”

    Well that explains your posts where you decry having to pay your workers livable wages. Sounds like you might just have a terrible business model if you can’t pay your workers. Everyone else seems to be doing fine.

  30. I’m surprised that the reporter didn’t bother to look into this a little further. The Salmon Bay office park owner is going to build several large office buildings on the property. Keyport was going to have to move eventually anyway, as a result. .

  31. Meanwhile, someone in leadership at Keyport (perhaps the owner) is driving a top-of-the-line vehicle with a “Make America Great Again” bumper sticker. You know what would really make America great again? A living wage.

  32. @ Truth

    First, I think your post on 1.24.18 pretending to be Econ 101 is a bit slippery of you. I submit it occurred right after your post made on on 5:18 pm. Please don’t pretend to be me and parrot your discredited insults.

    I never said paying a living wage was a problem. In fact all my employees do very well and have been with me for years. What is being pointed out is this …..raising the min wage (indiscriminately) causes a lot of problems in the economy and hurts the very people it was hoped it would benefit.

    The evidence is incontrovertible and just when the real carnage was being shown in the UW study….the plug on that political hot potato was pulled.

    You equate min wage with a “living wage”. They are not the same. But you are not alone in the profound ignorance of this concept. You are in the good company of the well meaning, but hopelessly inept Seattle City Council who can’t distinguish same.

    Sadly, many, many will suffer from this very poor policy and application. Its like watching Rome burn to the sound of applause.

  33. @Econ 101: I don’t pretend to be others. Facts are my style, not fakery. Your bone to pick is with someone else there buddy.

    “The evidence is incontrovertible and just when the real carnage was being shown in the UW study….the plug on that political hot potato was pulled.”

    Seems like Seattle’s economy, especially the service industries, is doing just fine. Your comment is quite the allegation. Do you have any evidence behind the study that was cancelled because it was clearly flawed?

    I do have an article that analyzes the studies:

    An excerpt from the article that shows the UW study was flawed and that the Berkeley one actually was a more complete study:

    “The research has significant flaws—most glaringly that its data excludes 40% of the Seattle workforce. It also stands in contrast to a massive trove of actually credible studies showing that raising the minimum wage is a boon for working class families and the communities they live in.

    For instance, a team led by Michael Reich, an economics professor at University of California-Berkeley, looked at the impact of the Seattle wage increase on the food industry over the same period and found that wages did in fact go up for restaurant workers, and that employment wasn’t affected. These findings were, they claim, ‘in line with the lion’s share of results in previous credible minimum wage studies.'”

    In short, what the UW study failed to capture, was that the local businesses lost a lot of people to chain restaurants, due to the temporary condition where larger companies had to pay a higher minimum wage.

    “I never said paying a living wage was a problem. In fact all my employees do very well and have been with me for years.”

    Then the minimum wage increase shouldn’t affect you in any way and I don’t understand why you’re so opposed to it. It does explain why you think there’s some conspiracy to bury studies.

  34. I have lived and worked in Ballard all my life. In retirement I’m looking to open a business of my own. I bought property in Ballard to do so in 2014. Last year I sold it and bought in Edmonds due to Seattle’s war on Cars and Boats. A friendly city permitting staff, utilities that offer service. Street cleaning Trucks and Police that show up. I won second place in the Edmonds car show. Yes I raced at Golden Gardens. Yes I have a Make America Great Again bumper sticker. I can’t live the American dream anymore in Ballard.

  35. “Yes I have a Make America Great Again bumper sticker. I can’t live the American dream anymore in Ballard.”

    If you and anyone else with a MAGA bumper sticker would just leave the USA, the rest of us adults can get the country back on track and again become a first world country deserving of worldwide respect that we once had from our peer countries. Maybe then the American Dream can become a reality again?

    I hear Somalia is nice this time of the year. Low taxes, cheap labor, plenty of parking and nobody to come take your guns! Plus, the people you vote for tend to be even zanier than Mr. MAGA himself.


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