Our History
Our History
Stokes Fish Company was formed in 1931 by Beryl Stokes Sr. in Leesburg Florida, which is approximately 40 miles north of Orlando. Due to the wonderful pristine lakes and rivers of Central Florida and Stokes Fish Company’s close proximity to the Gulf of Mexico, Stokes created a very niche business specializing in the processing of wild catfish and Gulf shrimp. Beryl Sr.’s son, Beryl Jr., would help out starting when he was 8 years old, and would stand on a wooden crate to reach the cash register.
During the 1930s, 40s and 50s, the main export of seafood for Florida was wild catfish and shrimp. During these years Stokes Fish Company shipped over 1,000,000 lbs of catfish per month on rail cars. The product was loaded in wooden barrels full of ice on to rail cars as shown to the left, circa 1941. The main destination for delivery was to wholesale seafood companies in the Midwest region of the United States, with the Chicago area being the most prominent destination.

With the advent of transport refrigeration for trailers in the mid-1950s, Stokes began to transport its own product on refrigerated trucks to the Midwest region. In addition to catfish and shrimp, other seafood products from the Florida Atlantic region and the Gulf of Mexico were shipped.
In 1952 Beryl “Sonny” Stokes Jr. began working in his family’s business after serving in the Air Force as a commissioned officer. In the following years Sonny became President of the company. He and his brother Bill ran the company until Bill retired in 2009. Sonny retired a few years later and began buying, raising and selling racehorses, which has been a very successful endeavor.

In 1961 Stokes Fish Company formed an ICC licensed trucking company, Lake Trucking Company. Lake Trucking began to move product not only for Stokes Fish, but for other wholesale seafood companies as well. Lake Trucking today continues to be the prominent leader in the refrigerated trucking industry, shipping seafood out of Florida, and backhauling meat, pork, and many other products back into Florida from the Midwest, Texas, Colorado, Georgia and the Carolinas.

In the 1960s and 1970s the taste for wild catfish began to wane as the new farm-raised catfish blossomed. By the 1980s farm-raised catfish had nearly killed the wild catfish markets. In addition, the lower priced frozen shrimp from foreign markets also reduced the dependency on fresh Key West and Gulf shrimp. Stokes Fish began to concentrate on buying fresh seafood right off the boats from Florida’s Atlantic and Gulf waters as well as from South and Central America, Mexico, and the Caribbean.
In the 1980s and 1990s other foreign markets grew as the airline industry grew, and Stokes Fish began to sell salmon from not only Canada and Chile but also from Scotland and Norway. Lake Trucking continued to grow as well and began to move more and more seafood products for other companies from Florida throughout the Midwest and other parts of the United States. In 2003 Stokes Fish built a new state-of-the-art 20,000 square foot refrigerated and frozen distribution center in Leesburg, Florida to better service its growing needs and to comply with the FDA’s HACCP rules and regulations, and we’ve continued to make improvements to keep the facility compliant and up to date with all HACCP, SQF and FSMA regulations.

In 2010 Beryl “Sonny” Stokes Jr. recognized that in order to carry on his family and company’s legacy, he needed to develop a succession plan. In 2012 a plan was developed to transition the management and ownership from the Stokes family to a longtime friend and consultant to the company for over thirty years, Ted Brozanski. Ted has become the President and CEO of the companies. He and his wife Margie, who is the General Manager and Vice President of Sales for Stokes Fish, work long hours and run both companies, which have grown over 1000% since 2012. Ted’s background before buying Stokes Fish and Lake Trucking was in management consulting, specializing in logistics and management processes, and Margie’s background was in sales management in the medical industry.

Stokes Fish Company and Lake Trucking have been recognized for many achievements by local, state, national and private organizations such as Smithfield Foods Carrier of the Year, Best Large Business Leesburg, Florida, Community Service Award Leesburg Florida, and Ernst and Young’s Entrepreneur of the Year Florida Finalist Awards.

Our future growth plans are very strategic in nature as we continue to grow and expand into more regions of the United States to provide our customer/partners with premium quality fresh and frozen seafood products.

To take our companies to the next level, in March 2019 we proudly became SQF certified (Safe Quality Food) in Food Safety and Food Quality for both Stokes Fish and Lake Trucking with an excellent rating in both in 2019 and 2020.

At Stokes Fish we pride ourselves in our ability to provide premium seafood from abroad and also from the Florida Atlantic waters and the Gulf waters from Florida to Louisiana. We buy only the freshest local freshwater and saltwater fish as soon as the boats hit the dock. Some of the things that set us apart from our competitors is that we wash all of our fish in ozonated water, the only FDA approved anti-bacterial wash, which extends the shelf life, and because we bring all of the fish that we sell to our facility before shipping it, we inspect every fish and shellfish to make sure that your quality is second to none so there are no surprises when you receive your seafood.
Our geographical distribution area extends from Florida to Georgia and the Carolinas, to Colorado, New Mexico, Texas, Alabama, Louisiana, Kentucky, Tennessee, all over the Midwest and everywhere in between. We are open to new opportunities, and we will be happy to discuss how Stokes Fish Company can help fulfill your current and future needs. By owning both the seafood company and the trucking company, we sit in a unique position to offer a very competitive edge over our competitors.

Stokes Fish Company
625 CR 468
Leesburg, FL 34748
Stokes Fish and Lake Trucking Copyrighted © 1933 - 2020. All Rights Reserved