Written by Annie Harmon
Photos provided by Sierra Gold Seafood
When Brandon Crowell was a junior at the University of Nevada, Reno, he was not expecting to open a business with his family. However, when the opportunity arose he was not going to pass it up.
In college, Crowell had worked at Nevada Seafood in Reno, but only as a temporary job.
“I didn’t think I was going to be in the seafood industry, but the opportunity came and I wanted to give it a try,” Crowell says.
The Crowell family opened Sierra Gold Seafood in Reno in 2006. At that point, Brandon was still in college, earning a degree in business management. His father, Jim, had worked in the seafood industry for a long time. When his father decided he wanted to start his own business, Brandon, his brother Justin, and his mother Cindy decided to get on board.
They started by offering one item, black tiger shrimp, and expanded from there.
“It was very difficult when we first started,” Brandon says. “We opened right before the recession started, and it was tough for a while, but we were able to hang on.”
Due to a drop in the economy, Brandon stuck to selling mostly frozen items, slowly expanding to fresh fish as the family built up its customer base. Eventually, the family members were able to add more seafood options to the menu, including live lobster and shellfish.
“It took a while,” Crowell says, “but it’s been 12 years and we’re still going strong. I wasn’t really sure if it was going to work, but we pushed through.”
On top of running Sierra Gold Seafood with his family, Brandon also is on the board of American Culinary Federation, High Sierra Chefs Association. Following in his father’s footsteps, Brandon joined ACF HSCA when they opened Sierra Gold.
“I want to support local chefs and culinary students as much as I can,” Brandon says. “I love being able to go out to meet and work with local chefs, to give them the best information and show them what’s out there.”
Being able to provide local chefs with fresh, quality seafood is one of the many aspects Brandon loves about his job. In doing so, Brandon also is able to contribute to the community and inform chefs about deals and trends.
“There are a lot of people doing a lot of good things. I’m really happy to be able to be part of the food scene in Reno,” Brandon says.
As the Reno food scene expands, Brandon and his family are looking into expanding Sierra Gold Seafood as well. They understand the importance of quality, fresh seafood in a market so far from the ocean.
Brandon wants to add more line items and expand into different territories. In the market of fresh fish, timing and logistics are everything. He has to make sure that they always have enough product, but not too much.
“We’re still growing, and there is still a lot to be had,” Brandon says. “We want to be the best seafood company in the area.”
As they expand, Sierra Gold Seafood’s owners also are very cautious of the way their fish is caught. Sustainability in the oceans is important, and Brandon works to make sure they are being conscious of how they are procuring the fish they sell.
“We work with many vendors that have very good practices,” Brandon says. “They avoid bycatch through better catching methods.”
The success of Sierra Gold Seafood comes from Crowell and his family’s hard work. Even after 12 years of business in Northern Nevada and California, Brandon still is looking for ways to improve and expand his family’s business.
“Being able to do all this with my family, starting up a business and watching it expand, has been an amazing experience for me,” Brandon says.
Learn more about Brandon and Sierra Gold Seafood at https://www.sierragoldseafood.com
Annie Harmon is the editorial intern for ACF HSCA. She can never turn down a bowl of classic clam chowder.