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Jax Daily Record Thursday, Mar. 3, 202205:00 AM EST

Bye-bye Belle: Seafood supplier changes name to reflect family

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Headquartered in Jacksonville for more than eight decades, Shaw’s Southern Belle Frozen Food is now Shaw Family Seafood Co.
by: Dan Macdonald Staff Writer

After 87 years, family-owned Shaw’s Southern Belle Frozen Foods has a new name and logo – Shaw Family Seafood Co.

Shaw produces frozen seafood products sold in supermarkets under its own and other brands.

It also supplies restaurants from fast food to fine dining, selling products in all 50 states.

Shaw’s 185 workers were scheduled to learn of the name change at a barbecue lunch March 3. 

The formal name change will be unveiled at the March 13-15 Seafood Expo North America in Boston.

Shaw’s is at 821 Virginia St. where the St. Johns and Trout Rivers meet north of the Talleyrand area and about 5 miles north of Downtown.

Four generations of Shaws have built the company into a national supplier.

Howard “Bubba” Shaw Jr. and John Shaw III hold a picture of their company’s original plant along the Trout River.

First cousins John Shaw III, 44, and Howard “Bubba” Shaw Jr., 58, run the facility along with their aunt, Sylvia Shaw Pitman, who serves as the company’s treasurer.

The Shaw cousins carry the title of business development director with John Shaw handling retail and grocery customers and Howard Shaw dealing with food service and restaurants.

John Shaw said because it is a private, family-owned company, he declined to disclose revenue.

The company’s slogan is: “We’re not the biggest fish in the sea. But we’re large enough to serve some of the biggest names in the food industry.”

Shaw’s products include crab cakes, lobster cakes and shrimp and lobster cakes; seafood stuffing; seafood burgers; fritters; dips; and mac and cheese.

The new name is part of an overall rebranding campaign.

The former logo was a red, white and blue badge with patriotic bunting and a caricature of woman of the Old South dressed in a hoop skirt wearing a decorative wide-brimmed hat and carrying a parasol. The logo included the initials USA written above three large stars, one depicting the American flag.

The company said the Southern Belle portion of the name came from Shaw’s grandfather’s name for their grandmother.

The new logo is a predominantly blue six-sided horizontal label with white and blue lettering. An anchor embossed with a red “S” is at the top of the logo.

The Shaws said the name change had nothing to do with the movement of many companies to change names and logos that harken back to the antebellum days.

“As my Aunt Sylvia said, the barn needs a new coat of paint,” Howard Shaw said.

While most of its business is supplying products for other companies, Shaw’s Southern Belle Frozen Foods is sold under its own name at area grocery stores, including Publix. Those products soon will carry the new name and logo.

Over the past 18 months, the company did market research to rebrand itself. It found that “Shaw” and “Family” needed to be in the new name.

“Looking into the future, we need to be all-encompassing,” John Shaw said.

Another reason for the new name is that few people in Jacksonville know about its products.

“We are better known nationally than we are right here in Jacksonville,” John Shaw said.

The Shaw family: From left, Howard “Bubba” Shaw Jr., John Shaw III, Sylvia Shaw Pitman, Howard Shaw and John Shaw. All are involved in running Shaw Family Seafood Co., now in its fourth generation of family leadership.

The company began in the late 1800s in Southern New Jersey, where the family worked as fishermen and boat builders, according to its website. 

In the early 20th century H.W. Shaw and his wife, Flossie Russell Shaw, moved the family to Florida, opening a crab plant in Apalachicola in 1934. 

The couple soon moved its operation to Jacksonville.

Their son, John R. Shaw Sr., and his wife, Alma W. “Pheenix” Shaw, opened a second plant, which remains the company’s location.

Alma Shaw was called the Southern Belle by her husband and developed many of the recipes for its products. But like the formula for Coca-Cola, the Shaws aren’t about to make them public.

Shaw Family Seafood Co.'s products are sold at Publix.

However, Howard Shaw did say that his grandmother’s crab cakes incorporate claw meat, which many recipes do not use.

New customers come to the factory and taste the products on-site as they are made from her recipes. Some customers will choose a product and ask that the flavor profile be changed to suit their purposes.

With that information, the company’s Culinary Institute of America-trained chef, Scott Rom, develops a product to match the customer’s desires.

While the company has been run by the family for four generations, a fifth isn’t guaranteed.

John Shaw’s children are in elementary school. Howard Shaw’s are in their late 20s but haven’t been invited to become part of the company yet.

“We’ve got a rule. Spend five years away and become your own man. When you’re ready, come to the table with some new ideas and then we’ll talk about it,” Howard Shaw said.

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