Henry Shenk was raised in rural Pennsylvania, quite far from the wilds of Alaska and the Pacific Northwest.
However, in 1989 he started working a sales job with International Seafoods of Alaska, based in Kodiak. The rest is history.
Shenk worked at International Seafoods from 1989 through 1997, when he founded Sleeping Giant.
Henry worked from the attic in his small family home in the Interbay area of Seattle for the better part of the first two years. His working capital was a $20,000 loan from his mother. He used that money to buy low-cost goods, selling a few cases at a time — primarily Alaska pollock fillet and block frozen squid — to local restaurants.
In 1998, he moved into what is now his current office, where he worked solo for most of the following three years developing Alaska cod fillet markets. His wife, Kayoko, came on full time in 2001. She developed round sole, primarily rex sole, opening several new markets and species opportunities.
Today, their three children — Shincho, Harmony and Henry — are involved in the business at various levels.
Perhaps not surprisingly, Shincho Shenk was raised on Alaska pollock fillet. As soon as he got his driver’s license, he started working for the company doing local deliveries, product inspections and “home-packs.” In December 2010, after working all summer in the National Marine Fisheries Service observer program in Dutch Harbor and Kodiak in Alaska, Shincho started working at Sleeping Giant full time. Since then, he has developed salmon, black cod and rockfish. He also has evolved the company into secondary/custom processing.
Harmony Shenk created the original Sleeping Giant logo in grade school in the 1990s, and Henry Shenk created the current logo about six years ago. Both help around the office in various ways today.
Henry Sr. retired from the day-to-day operation of Sleeping Giant in April 2017. Kayoko still works part-time. Both are enjoying more free time, which has always been their goal.
Other than that, Sleeping Giant has not changed much in recent years. The company is a liaison between primary producers and end users, and they consider themselves a “boutique” company.
“I have worked at BCS for 20 years,” said José Roqués, BCS vice president of sales and marketing. “I did not have the opportunity to work with Henry or Kayoko, but I have enjoyed getting to know Shincho. Shincho is kind, positive and upbeat. No matter how hard the challenge may be, he always has a smile on his face, and he always seems to manage to find the bright side in any situation.”
BCS appreciates the business and relationship we have with Sleeping Giant, and we look forward to continuing to grow alongside them.
Thank you, Sleeping Giant, for your business and excellent relationship with us. We wish you the best of luck in the coming year!