ContactCarson & Company, Inc.
Lauren Kimbrough Cowan
16749 River Road
Bon Secour, AL 36511
Quick FactsYear founded: 1976
# of employees in peak season: 120
# of family members working in the business: 2
Product type(s): U.S. Wild-Caught White and Brown Shrimp
Capacity (pounds per day): 110,000
Square footage of facilities: 80,000
Interesting fact about the business: Started in a mullet shed (6, 000 sq. ft)
Product brand names: Captain Carson and Carson’s Choice
Carson & Company was founded in 1976 in the historic French fishing village of Bon Secour, Alabama by accountant turned shrimp processor Carson Kimbrough. The spacious main offices are welcoming and made complete by a yellow lab named Hank who greets you at the door.
“My dad likes the office to look nice and feel like home,” says Lauren Kimbrough Cowan, Carson’s daughter and now marketing manager at the company. Lauren works closely with her dad and is helping the company achieve new heights in the processing business.
After several years of wearing coat and tie as an accountant, the Alabama native yearned to do something a little less formal and more challenging. After meeting and talking with a local shrimp processor on a golf course one day, Carson decided to ditch the suit and tie and took a hardworking job at a shrimp plant.
Even though the shrimp business strayed from his original career plans, Carson never looked back. The shrimp business was exciting and rewarding, and it appealed to his career goals at the time. Carson’s passion led him to pursue his own business, and his first investment was a shrimp boat that he himself operated for four years before deciding to venture into the processing and marketing aspects of the business as well.
To handle his young company’s need for more space, in 1980, Carson purchased a mullet shed that had been devastated by Hurricane Frederick and would soon become what we know as Carson & Company today. The current facility is 80,000 total square feet including the main processing plant, cold storage, main office, packaging warehouse facility, and full-service maintenance shop. The plant processes fresh frozen shrimp, including, white headless shrimp, brown headless shrimp, straight peeled and peeled and deveined shrimp. The company deals solely in domestic wild caught shrimp, with the ability to source all-natural and chemical-free products as needed.
Their primary market is institutional foodservice, but they also sell to seafood markets, seafood delivery companies, and seafood distributors. Another source of business is other processors who buy product from Carson and Company, to help meet their own growing demands.
Plant Manager Norman Fowler has been with the company for 30 years and loves the close-knit relationship all of the employees share.
“I think one of the greatest things about this company is the core group of people who have been with us for years,” Norman says. “We work hard and play hard, but we do it as a family. I actually put Lauren’s first swing set together, when she was very young.”
Lauren shares that they like to “keep it old school” in the ways they pack, but they make sure to stay up to date with industry regulations. Carson & Company understands the importance of sustainability, and they are keeping up with advances in technology and are actively using Gulf Seafood Trace for traceability. They want their buyers to easily be able trace their shrimp from boat, to dock, to Carson as the processor, and to the customer.
The company’s strengths are their quality products, their reputation, their brand recognition and the trust they have built with their vendors and customers. They invest in their relationships with their shrimp docks as well as supplier vendors for the long-term.
“We are honest,” Lauren says. “It’s the only way we know how to be. Honest with what we say and honest with what we’re selling you.”
Carson & Company is determined to continue its focus on exacting quality control on their Wild Caught Gulf shrimp, and they are committed to standing behind their motto “Always Good Shrimp” for many years to come.