NAHCOTTA-Eric Hall brings almost 20 years of oyster industry experience to his new position of Willapa Division Manager of Taylor Shellfish Farms in Nahcotta.
Hall was born in North Carolina, but attended Shelton High School after his dad retired and moved his family to Washington. He worked summers for Taylor and after graduation in 1981 enlisted in the 82nd Airborne Division of the Army and was again stationed in North Carolina.
He was a paratrooper for over six years and successfully took over 300 jumps. "I was a senior jump master," Hall explains. "I was forced to quit when my ankles couldn't take the force of the landings anymore."
Hall returned to the Shelton area and went to work for Taylor managing the processing facility. In 1991 he was transferred to Hoods Canal to manage the farm there. After successfully increasing production at that facility the company moved him to do the same magic at Totten Inlet near the main plant in Shelton in 2001.
"The company sent me to the Washington Agriculture and Forestry Leadership Training Program and I learned about public speaking, legislation, and visited Washington, D.C., Europe, and the Ukraine," Hall explains of his last two years before taking over in Nahcotta.
"Taylor isn't afraid to think outside the box in order to increase production of oysters," Hall says. "They thought I would be a good person to come to Willapa Bay because of some potentially politically charged issues."
Taylor is incorporating a new dredge in moving seed and also is experimenting with a machine that will discharge pressurized bursts into the sand of the bay to dislodge burrowing shrimp that can foul oyster beds and cause the mature oysters to sink and eventually suffocate.
"Our company is trying to take care of the burrowing shrimp problem without using sprays. We're trying to use the method with the least negative environmental impact we can," Hall relates. He is in charge of about 20 employees. Hall has moved to a home near Naselle during the week and commutes to Shelton on the weekends to be with his family and where his daughter hopes to graduate from high school in a couple of years.
Hall replaced long-time Taylor manager, Mark Wiegardt, who moved to Tillamook, Ore. to work with his wife Sue in an oyster and shellfish hatchery and research operation.
"We are trying to meet the demands of a red-hot oyster market for the fall and through 2007," Hall concludes. It may not be as exciting as parachute jumping, but Hall is hopeful of continuing to help make the oyster industry on Willapa Bay land on its economic feet.