Russ Gibbons

Russ Gibbons

Russ Gibbons

MJM Seafood Trading Company 

Williamsburg, VA--Russ Gibbons’ customers might be surprised to know he doesn’t fish.

In fact, he says proudly when anyone asks, “I just don’t like it. It’s too much like work. If you see me with friends out on the boat and I’m holding a fishing rod, chances are I just dropped the sinker in the water without any bait to make it look like I was fishing.”

What Gibbons does love is life on the water and the sweet, savory taste of just about every species that comes out of it. 

“I love a good seafood boil. Throw it all in a pot like a pack of Skittles and taste the rainbow.”

It’s why, in May 2011, following nearly three decades in the restaurant business, Gibbons opened MJM Seafood Trading Company in Williamsburg, Virginia. 

Gibbons grew up in Virginia’s York County. His family hails from Maryland and Virginia’s shared Eastern Shore, both states in the Mid-Atlantic Fishery Management Council’s region. 

“I had the family that has oysters on the table for Thanksgiving. Seafood was a big part of my life. Clearly it still is.”

MJM Seafood Trading Company is a proud family business with one mission in mind, Gibbons said. 

“Bring people the best, freshest seafood possible.”

For MJM, that’s being involved in the seafood distribution process from the start.

It means sometimes being on site when the fishermen arrive at the dock and unload fish onto a grading belt. 

“Fresh, seasonal, products area always a higher quality. If I could walk out into a field and pick my own cow out for my steak instead of one already wrapped up at the grocery store, I’d do it.”

It’s trusting the dock masters he works with, and the regulatory enforcement system, to buy legal, fresh fish for pickup from the dock’s cold, storeroom. Gibbons pick ups, mostly whole fish, and delivers directly from the docks to kitchens in a large, white utility van. 

Occasionally, Gibbons will process the whole fish he buys. 

“I’m a business man. If I can make an extra $1 processing, I’ll do it.”

In general, he gets it to his customers as quickly as he can drive there. He has to. 

“My marketing to my customers is your fish are less than 36 hours out of water.”

Plus, he doesn’t want to let his children down. His three children are very much a part of the business. MJM stands for the first letter of their names. Gibbons’ son designed the price sheet, one daughter’s voice is on the answering service and another daughter is “cute to ride around in the truck with.”

They are also his motivation. 

Gibbons may not like to fish, but he does like to teach his children the importance of working hard for what you want in life.

“I may not have taught them to fish, but I have taught them the value of fishing and the relationship we have to nature.”

Eventually, he’ll teach them how to put together a seafood boil.