About Crown Prince
Family-owned and founded in 1948, Crown Prince, Inc. provides the finest quality canned seafood to cooks and customers throughout the United States and Mexico. Guided by three generations of the Hoffman family, Crown Prince has grown slowly and carefully, emphasizing quality products and sincere customer relationships above all else.
Beginnings: From Holland to La Habra
In 1918 long before Crown Prince was established, Corneleus Anton Hoffman, known as Case, was born in Arnum, Holland. At 11 months old, Case was brought by his mother to California where his father had been transferred for his job with Shell Oil, a Dutch company.
Case, a fireball from the start, got his first job at age 12 selling local newspapers. By age 16 he was a supervisor. During WWII, he worked as a sales manager for an aviation parts manufacturer that supported military planes. After the war Case teamed up with two close friends to start an orange juice business. They manufactured their juice under the label “Cold Gold” at a small plant on Harbor Boulevard in La Habra, CA.
Getting Started in Seafood
It was at this orange juice factory, of all places, that Case was turned on to the prospect of specializing in seafood. The factory’s cost accountant was Norwegian and had a friend back home, Bjarne Ogne, who wanted to sell Norwegian sardines in the United States. Case and his fellow business owners agreed, and for a time they sold both orange juice and Norwegian sardines. But the pairing was an impractical one.
The men decided to sell Cold Gold and did so at a good profit, but were left with an inventory of Norwegian sardines. Case offered to try and sell the fish, and the more he sold, the more interested he became in the products. He ordered more and in 1947 made his first big sale: to Alpha Beta, one of the leading regional grocery chains in California. With that sale, the company was born. Case named it “Norwegian Fish Importers,” and that name was used until Crown Prince was adopted in 1985.
Second Generation: New Frontiers
From 1947 to the late 1960s, Case worked tirelessly to make the business a success and was able to single-handedly expand sales throughout southern California. At first he was the only employee, and orders were small enough that he made the deliveries in person from the back of a station wagon. When business started picking up he hired his first worker, a part-time girl to type invoices and help keep records. Soon he also hired warehouse trucks to make larger deliveries.
Case’s son, Bob Hoffman, entered the business in the late 1960s and took over many of the administrative and managerial responsibilities. This freed Case, a natural entrepreneur, to return to the field. Over the coming years Case expanded into nearby states and eventually across the entire U.S. He traveled nationally, making sales calls and training sales managers to know the seafood and the company as well as he did.
It was during this time that the name Crown Prince was adopted, as Norwegian Fish Importers no longer accurately reflected the company’s products. After decades of hard work, Case slowly began to transition into retirement and Bob took on more and more leadership until he was the company’s president.
Third Generation: Crown Prince Today
Dustan Hoffman (Bob’s daughter and Case’s granddaughter) embraced her family legacy from an early age. At age 12, Bob recalls, Dustan would announce her future role as president of the company. Through college she spent summers and vacations learning every thing she could about the seafood, where it is sourced, how it is packed, and the role of every single employee. Today, as predicted, she is the President of Crown Prince.
Under Dustan’s leadership Crown Prince has grown to place special emphasis on healthy eating, natural foods and environmental sustainability—while maintaining the core commitment to quality and customers, on which the company is based. Crown Prince and Crown Prince Natural are now available in numerous food stores nationwide. In 1998 the company also successfully expanded to Mexico, where the products have been well-received.
Having specialized in seafood for more than 60 years, the Hoffman family has not only built ties with the customers who prepare these products in their homes, but also with our carefully-selected seafood packers in nine countries around the globe. Many of these companies are family-owned as well, and have been partnering with Crown Prince for years. The quality of these relationships, combined with Crown Prince’s extensive knowledge of seafood and grounded principles, have together established Crown Prince as a widely recognized brand throughout both Mexico and the United States.