Made in Central Illinois: Dixon Fisheries, Inc.

Published 05/13 2014 11:41AM

Updated 05/13 2014 10:59PM

EAST PEORIA – Thousands of businesses call Central Illinois home for many different reasons. But the one we’re profiling this week had us wanting to know why it chose Tazewell County for its headquarters.


You’ve probably seen the Dixon Fisheries locations in Peoria and East Peoria, but those retail shops are just a small part of its success.


Jim Dixon, President of the company, said, “1896 is technically the date we say we're founded."


He’s the fourth-generation behind the business. It started as a small commercial fishing operation, but has grown into a seafood company offering much more than carp and catfish.


He said, “We've developed from a producer, to more of bringing fish in and distributing fish throughout the area."


It not only supplies fish to area businesses, but beyond state borders. “We have another operation in Indianapolis, which covers Fort Wayne and starting next week, Cincinnati. We go to STL five days a week out of Peoria and we also go over to Des Moines, Iowa."


So what’s the secret behind a successful seafood business in a landlocked state? Dixon said it knows how to evolve, changing its products based off tastes and trends.


“At one time maybe oysters and catfish were big in this area. Oysters and catfish are not necessarily as big as they used to be in this area, hence, the rise in demand of tuna and swordfish."


As the president of the company, Dixon is the man behind the fish selection. He called himself the “scrounger” who “looks for oddball items.”


Dixon has contacts around the globe. He ships fresh salmon from Europe and South America, and farm-raised shrimp from Southeast Asia. A new catch is Wahoo fish from Madeira Beach, Florida.


Dixon said he and his employees aren’t afraid to try new things. They’ve recently created tuna meatballs and are always adding a fish flare to popular dips, like buffalo chicken.  


Dixon added, “It is unique, it is unique."


As for the next hundred years, Dixon said the products will always be changing. That’s this central Illinois company’s number one ingredient in its recipe for success.


He said, “We enjoy what we do. We have a lot of very good employees. It's always something new coming in the back door."


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