The OBI Seafoods cannery in Petersburg is ahead of schedule. They hit 100,000 cases of fish on Saturday, August 5th —that’s four days ahead of last year. However, the workers were so busy canning, OBI had to blow its celebratory steam whistle a few days late.
OBI’s steam whistle blasts for about a minute and can be heard all over town. It customarily goes off when the processor reaches a hundred thousand cases. This year, that whistle was late — but the cannery workers aren’t falling behind.
Jeff Randrup is the cannery foreman. He spoke to KFSK on the phone while he was still in his busy workshop. He only had a few moments to spare, and then it was back to work for him.
“We’re so busy that we didn’t have time to do it,” said Randrup. “So at the time we did, it was 125,000 [cases]!”
Even though the news came late, Randrup says his team took a couple moments to celebrate when Tuesday rolled around.
“I let people know, and then they can run out and take video and pictures and enjoy the moment,” said Randrup. “People are generally going to lunch. We’re still on a timeline, but everybody gets a pat on the back, and everybody’s told they did a great job. And so I want to say, thanks, folks! Thanks to everybody who’s involved with this whole process.”
OBI was not available to comment on how things are going compared to years prior. But Randrup says it’s been an especially productive season. From where he’s standing, it looks like the numbers are up.
“We’re kind of in the hot zone here,” said Randrup. “Essentially, Southeast is kicking. We are gonna have an amazing run here. We’re getting fish, and we need to take care of it. It’s good for the community and the economy of Petersburg, and I’m proud to be part of it.”
Randrup says the community should get ready for another whistle. He says they’re packing at least 10,000 cases a day, and they’re well on their way to pack over 200 thousand by the end of the season.