THE NEXT GENERATION
Passed down through 4 generations, SD Caputo & Sons has been passed through many generations and has a strong future ahead.
S.D. Caputo and Sons, where tomorrow’s catch is still growing!
1951 - 2011
Salvatore Domenico Caputo was born in Molfetta, Italy in 1902 and migrated to Australia at the young age of 12 years during 1914. As a young boy, upon arrival in Australia, Salvatore was employed in the fishing industry and quickly learned the art of a fishermen. At age 21 he returned to Italy and enlisted in the Italian Navy where he spent the next two years. Whilst in Italy, Salvatore married Carmela Caputo and returned back to Australia at age 25 with his bride. On his return to Australia, a young energetic Salvatore decided to return to the trade he learned as a boy and became a Fish Monger which involved door to door selling of local fresh fish.
In 1951, at 49 years of age, he took up an opportunity to start up a fish processing business in Port Pirie and S.D. Caputo and Sons was born. Together with his son Domenic and son-in-law, Mauro Mezzino, he established a successful and prominent Port Pirie business.
It was originally known as the Solly Fish Shop, operating from the premises formerly known as the Milano Snack Bar on Main Road.
In 1954 the partners decided to expand the business and move across the road to the premises S.D. Caputo’s is now operating from.
As a professional fisherman S.D. Caputo, was always trying to get the best possible return for his catch. Instead of selling his fish to the local fish buyer or the Adelaide and Melbourne markets he decided to cut out the middleman and start his own business. He bought a Ute and began delivering fresh fish in Port Pirie and to the nearby country towns. This idea seemed to work, so he decided to value add his catch, which was mainly Garfish, King George Whiting, Snook, Snapper, Tommy Ruff and Squid, by processing (filleting) it. Within a few years a relationship began with Safcol in Adelaide to purchase approximately 90% of the filleted fish from SD Caputo and Sons.
In 1970 the business diversified into the prawn industry, which originally involved unloading prawn trawlers in Port Pirie, Wallaroo and Port Broughton for Safcol and delivering them fresh to Adelaide in fibreglass containers. In 1972 SD Caputo and Sons started processing prawns for Safcol which included cooking, grading, tailing and freezing the prawns in 10kg cartons. At that time the business was processing between 50 and 70 tons of prawns per year, employing up to 30 casual staff at any one time.
In 1975 Mauro’s son Sebastian Mezzino and Domenic’s son Tory Caputo joined the business due to the retirement of S.D. Caputo.
With the prawn trawlers upgrading their vessels significantly in the last 20 years to incorporate grading machines, cookers and snap freezers they now have the opportunity to sell their product direct to wholesalers locally and internationally. S.D. Caputo’s therefore don’t employ as many staff now but the quality of prawns available has improved significantly.
SD Caputo and Son’s supply of seafood is predominantly from Spencer Gulf but they also source product from as far as Perth, Brisbane, Sydney and Melbourne and also aquaculture products from the West Coast and Tasmania.
Mauro Mezzino retired from the business in 1990, Domenic Caputo in 1992 and Tory Caputo left the business in 1998. Since that time, the business has changed direction significantly to concentrate more on the retail side, which has grown considerably in recent years due to the improved marketing of Seafood to the health conscious consumers and also with the ever increasing exposure of seafood on television lifestyle programs.
Sebastian’s son Maurie joined the business in January 2003 becoming the fourth generation to do so and has become a very important part of the firm in his role as office administrator and marketing manager.
In 2004 it was decided to expand the retail shop to double the original size with new showcases and freezers. It has been well accepted by both customers and employees. Sebastian was most appreciative of Michael Angelakis (Out Of The Blue) making himself available for the grand opening.
In 2005 S.D. Caputo and Sons were joint winners of the South Australian Seafood Retailer Of The Year Award. The winners of this award must showcase the best quality and service of South Australian fish and seafood using the highest standards possible, in a friendly manner at a fair price to both the consumer and to the fisher.
In February of 2006 a Freezer van was purchased to deliver fresh and frozen seafood to the Iron Triangle once a week and also the Clare Valley and Copper Coast once a week, expanding the wholesale trade of the business.
Another example of the business’s recognition for its contribution to this region was being selected in 2008 to appear on the cover of the local telephone directory. The theme was ‘Celebrating Australian Flavour’.
In 2010 S.D. Caputo and Sons further expanded their business by purchasing Baltic Seafood, a business which specialises in Australian Pickled Octopus, Pickled Mussels, Pickled Calamari and Pickled Scallops. All pickling of these gourmet products are now produced on site at S.D. Caputo and Sons, with the products being sold locally and Interstate.
In 2011 S.D. Caputo and Sons are proudly celebrating 60 years and four generations in the seafood business. In May 2011 S.D. Caputo and Sons were nominated for the Business Excellence Award in the Southern Flinders Business Employment and Training Awards. To coincide with the 60th Anniversary the Port Pirie Regional Council resolved in March 2011 “That the walkway joining Fishermen’s Jetty and the Solomontown Boat Ramp be named ‘S.D. Caputo’s Esplanade’ in recognition of the Late S.D. Caputo’s involvement not only in the Seafood industry but also with the Italian Community.”