From Sea to Slurp; Daily Operations of Pangea Shellfish Company

by Nick Happnie, Operations Manager

When I tell people that I work in an oyster warehouse, their typical assumption is that I spend my days eating and shucking oysters. Although that’d be a grand profession, spending my days sampling the salty delicacies of the sea, it’s far from the truth. The actual day to day operations here at Pangea aren’t nearly as delicious. While Bekah (joined in 2015) does crack open oysters most days for quality assurance reasons, the rest of our team is here to make sure the right oysters come in, they are received and packed properly, and then shipped out to the correct customers without a hitch. This post is meant to educate our customers (or the casual shellfish-blog reader) on the process behind what happens between the time of harvest and the time of consumption, as well as introduce some of the people who make that process possible.

                The first step in sending oysters down your gullet is ordering, which is done by our Vice President, Dan Light (joined in 2003). Although President Ben takes care of ordering, as well as myself in the near future, Dan is on the phone with farmers and vendors everyday making sure we have a full stock of oysters for our customers to pick from. Bringing in the right amount of each different product depends on seasonal availability, unexpected weather, and customer demand. Although we want to have as wide a variety as possible at all times, demand and availability change on a weekly basis. We rely on our sales history from past weeks to help determine our ordering trends for present day. Even though it’s not an exact science, it gives us some idea what we are going to need to keep our customers happy, and our crew busy.

                We live and die by our inventory. Anytime we make a sale, we are assuming the information in our system is up to date and accurate. One of our newest members, Conor Black (joined in 2016), has taken over the receiving responsibilities (which used to belong to me). Among those responsibilities are recording harvest information in our online file, assigning each lot its own lot number, printing our own tags to re-tag each bag with, and managing our inventory if ever there is a discrepancy. It is a data entry, trouble shooting-heavy position which requires constant attention and focus. Even on our slower days, there is always something worth doing in regards to receiving that will help make sure each day runs smoothly. Mark (joined in 2016) is also vital to our receiving operation, as he is the one doing all the heavy lifting, retagging, and cooler organization that helps facilitate the receiving process. Without Conor and Mark, everyone else at Pangea would have a difficult time getting anything accomplished. In Conor’s own words, “Receiving has been difficult and stressful at times, but it feels good to have such an important role at the company after only being here for a few months.” Coming from a former Receiving Manager, Godspeed Conor.

                Once the product has been ordered, received, and sold, responsibility is then handed over to the group of guys that makes up the majority of Pangea: the packers. Between our two floor managers, Dennis (2007) and Carlos (2014), our wet storage Manager Juliano (2012), and all our other floor guys, we need to get every order packed and organized in a way that makes it easy for our driver (Jose, 2013) to get each pallet of product to the right shipping warehouses. For a company that’s growing at a high rate every year, sometimes the space on the floor is limited to the point that we need to store pallets on our refrigerated trucks. Luckily, we have enough people who have worked here long enough to know how to organize the floor and make sure we get product out the door efficiently. Each order is checked by myself or one of our floor managers before we send it out. So if your ordered is ever packed incorrectly, call to yell at Dennis, Carlos, or myself.

                It’s a team effort to make sure every day goes by without a problem. With so many people and so many orders to keep an eye on, tensions run high, and occasionally we may need to hide the shucking knives from one another, but for the most part we are a big happy family here at Pangea. We all come from different backgrounds, speak different languages, and hold different positions within the company, but our constant communication with each other keeps our jobs fun and our company thriving.