Tom Kehoe, the Chief Executive Officer of K & B Seafood and Partner at Seaflight Logistics, both of New York, visited Sochi with a group of foreign executives, including an official of a French seafood firm, and several from one of Russia’s leading seafood distribution firms, Mr. Kehoe has enjoyed a long career in the seafood distribution business. His business was built in New York City, one of the most competitive and innovative business environments in the world, and it has grown to shipping products to every time zone in the world.
Mr. Kehoe got involved in the seafood distribution business in the United States in the 1970′s, when he began shipping Maine lobsters to New York. Mr. Kehoe and his firm have been successful in New York, despite the logistical difficulties of distributing expensive and highly perishable food items in a large and congested city to an exacting and sophisticated clientele. With Mr. Kehoe founding K & B Seafood, his business grew to other seafood products and K&B took on the role of supplying Alaskan seafood to the New York market and eventually supplying seafood nationwide. Among their specialities, K & B feature crab, scallops and other shellfish, including more than 50 varieties of oysters. In recent years, he and K & B have expanded internationally and now their products are distributed in Russia and to many of the nation’s finest restaurants.
The understanding of the complicated processes of moving perishable cargo from remote locations through customs and to multiple destinations through congested traffic led him to found Seaflight Logistics in 2009. The company is a freight forwarder and specializes in the global logistics of perishables.
Mr. Kehoe’s interests and career is not limited to food distribution, he also serves as a Trustee of the Village Board of Northport, New York, a bucolic and affluent town on Long Island. He is Commissioner of Commerce, where he works with the business community and also Commissioner of Sanitation, where he is responsible for the policy and budgets of the waste water treatment facility. Mr. Kehoe is a member of the world-famous New York Athletic Club, founded in 1866, and known as “the world’s greatest athletic club’. The NYAC has sponsored hundreds of prominent athletes, who have cumulatively won hundreds of medals at Olympic competitions, including 7 gold medals (13 overall- more than most nations!) alone at the Beijing Summer Games and who have won scores of national championships in boxing, wrestling, track and field, rowing, fencing and other sports. Mr. Kehoe’s participation does not end at the sideline though. He was a competitive swimmer, is a surfer and holds two 3rd Degree Black Belts. Two of his daughters were elite fencers and one is now the coach at the NYAC, where one of his sons is a heavyweight boxer.
Mr. Kehoe’s background gives him an understanding of the challenges faced in moving people and products. He knows how to work effectively with city, state and federal officials and he has a strong background in sports. All of this drew him to Sochi, where we talked about some of the challenges that Sochi will face as the Winter Games approach. First, he expressed delight at the verdant beauty of Sochi, saying that when he got off the airplane, he did “not expect to see palm trees in Russia!” and then spoke about the scale of construction here. I asked him what his approach would be in moving people and perishables during the Games. He told me he is “am acutely aware of what congestion does to perishables, schedules and the movement and safe passage of our most precious commodity, people” and that his firm “has staff entirely devoted to these issues” He went on to say that working with the administration here in Sochi will be crucial to make sure that planning is complete. He said that an understanding of the needs of local business will be required to satisfy the visitors’ expectations. We talked at length about challenges he has faced and novel solutions that Seaflight has developed in multi jurisdictional shipping and distribution.
Since Mr. Kehoe returned to New York, we have spoken by telephone and he has expressed interest in the potential in Sochi, even suggesting to an institutional investor to travel to Sochi to investigate the possibilities of hotel development. We also talked about what we are doing at Destination Sochi- working with Olympic organizations and media companies to provide on-the-ground logistics, including workforce accommodation, transport, event management, consulting and logistics. He sees what I do: a city on the cusp of developing into an international and year-around destination.