One of the biggest brand names in food is based here in San Diego.
Bumble Bee CEO Chris Lischewski talked with me about the company’s new headquarters in the old Showley Bros. Candy Factory building, the push to label genetically modified foods, what it means for a fish to be “Made in the U.S.A.” and why Americans are eating less seafood.
This interview has been lightly edited for clarity and length.
For a nationally recognized brand, Bumble Bee has kept a relatively low profile in San Diego. I suspect your new facility and relationship with the Padres may change all that. How did it come about?
We never tried to keep a low profile. I think more people knew we were here when our offices were located in La Jolla and people could see it from the highway, but when the company went bankrupt in 1997, we moved to Kearney Mesa to get the costs down. But we’ve done a lot of things over time to try and raise our profile. We’ve given a lot of money to smaller organizations, and we’re one of the biggest supporters of Big Brothers and Big Sisters. We tend to be about kids and health and wellness, so it was a good fit, and a way to get our employees involved.
Our lease was coming up, and we decided that being a seafood company, it would be nice to see the ocean. We had our eye on a much more traditional high-rise office space that looked back over the old San Diego harbor, where the old tuna boats would come in during the 1950s and ’60s. But then we found this building and fell in love. At the time, we didn’t realize it was owned by the Padres. I had met Padres’ executive chairman, Ron Fowler, when he was named person of the year by Big Brothers Big Sisters, so I called him up and asked him if he’d be open to a company like Bumble Bee at Petco Park.
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@vosdscott Nothing he said has me itchin’ to be a Bumble Bee customer any time soon.