No Stranger to Adversity: Meeting Isaac Head On
by Gordon Curry, Louisiana Seafood News
Harlon Pearce wasn’t exactly sure what Hurricane Isaac would bring. But he was ready.
In fact, adversity is no stranger to Pearce, or to the thousands of people who share his passion for the seafood industry and labor to make a living from it in the Gulf area.
“Out of adversity always comes opportunity,” Pearce believes. “And we’ve had more opportunities in the last several years than many will see in a lifetime. I’m not sure how we could have been more prepared for Isaac.”
His response to Isaac – as well as to other adversities – was to always keep business moving “at the speed of seafood” for all who depend on this mainstay Louisiana industry.
Taking Care of Business
As Isaac was making landfall, Pearce was executing his plan to keep his seafood deliveries running and customers satisfied. He owns Harlon’s LA Fish & Seafood, a fish-processing and distribution company he’s operated for some 20 years within a mile of the Mississippi River.
“We had planned on production and brought in a lot of fish Tuesday morning before the hurricane arrived. So we knew we had product,” Pearce says. “We stocked up, iced up, and got prepared.”
While things were looking good at work, Pearce’s own home located on Lake Pontchartrain took a hit.
“The lake came up pretty fast with the tide and we took in about two feet of water,” he says. Two sides of the house also blew in on the second floor – all of which put him out of the house. “It was a pretty dramatic situation that we’ll be trying to resolve in the next couple of weeks.”
Despite that, Pearce was back in the office the day after the storm getting ready for deliveries, which started again on Thursday that week and continued since. He also opened his business on Labor Day to make sure his restaurant customers were covered.
When he’s not running his own business, Pearce is helping others ensure the long-time viability of theirs.
An Advocate for Others
Pearce is chairman of the Louisiana Seafood Promotion and Marketing Board, where he was appointed to serve by the governor. There, Pearce has been a powerful force in unifying the diverse interests of Louisiana’s commercial fisheries and ensuring their future prospects.
“Our goal is twofold. The first is to help fishermen, processors and distributors maintain their markets. And second, make sure consumers and restaurants know they can always depend on Louisiana for the quality seafood they love – no matter what storm blows through.”
That’s a message he continues to take to the meeting halls and boardrooms of countless businesses, colleges and government agencies not only across the state, but also around the world.
Case in point, at the end of September Pearce will join a delegation to Washington D.C. to speak with congressional leaders. They will discuss the aftermath of Hurricane Isaac, how it affected Louisiana’s seafood industry and what the needs might be for disaster aid.
Pearce was responsible for a recent visit by congressional staffers from five Gulf States to see the industry first hand. He sees staffers as the backbone of the legislative process, doing the important groundwork needed to write effective legislation. He feels their trip to processors, fishermen and the waters of the Gulf should result “in a much clearer understanding of our needs, especially after a hurricane.”
Pearce brings more than 40 years of grit and passion to an area that produces a third of the domestic seafood for the continental United States. This Louisiana industry couldn’t find a better businessman or advocate to help weather the recent storm – or any other for that matter.