MILBRIDGE, Maine — A family-run business on Bar Island has developed an application, or app, for Apple Products that will allow lobster-hungry consumers to order Maine lobsters right from their phones.
Chad Dorr, 31, said his father catches the lobsters, he is the marketing manager, and several cousins work the rest of the business, a family way of life for more than 33 years.
“We’ve had a website for eight or 10 years now,” Dorr said Thursday. “But everybody has a website.”
Dorr said he opted for the app as a way to carve out a little bit of the lobster business for himself.
“There are a lot of competitors in the lobster business,” he said. “There are a lot of big players. But as a small family business, I just wanted a piece of that pie.”
The app is for Apple products including the iPhone, iPod touch and the iPad and can be downloaded from Dorr Lobster’s website. The app allows consumers to search a menu of items and order the company’s Maine seafood products such as a lobster dinner for two, Maine scallops and much more. Once the bright blue square with a red lobster pops up on the screen, it just takes a couple of taps of the phone. After the order is placed the consumer gets a confirmation number and a tracking number for the lobster shipment.
“We can ship anywhere in the country in 24 hours,” Dorr said.
Using Styrofoam coolers and frozen gel packs, shipping is easy. The travel doesn’t put a dent in the lobsters’ quality, Dorr said. “They can be out of water for 36 hours as long as they start the trip healthy and remain moist.”
Dorr said that especially at holiday time, when people are extraordinarily busy, the app makes it easy and convenient for shoppers to get lobster.
“My parents started this business 33 years ago and I take pride in the Maine lobster industry, so keeping us current with technology trends is vital. This app helps us reach savvy consumers,” he said.
Customers can download the app from the Dorr Lobster’s website at www.dorrlobster.com, and the app is also available on iTunes.
“If this app is received as we think it will be, we will follow up with apps on other smart phones as well,” he said.
2010 has been a great year for Maine lobstering, Dorr said. “We should have a record-breaking year,” he said. “We want to get the message out that lobsters are affordable and anyone can have them. They aren’t just for holidays anymore. And when you think of lobster, you think of Maine lobster.”
Located on Bar Island, over a narrow causeway from Milbridge, Dorr Lobster Co. began with a single fisherman and expanded to include a state-of-the-art cold-water seasoning and packaging facility. The company sells lobster, Maine crabmeat, mussels, Maine sea scallops and Maine shrimp meat. They buy lobsters and seafood from other fishermen and operate their own wharf on the island.
“A lot of our boats [which supply the seafood] are family members,” Dorr said.
He said that after graduating from Husson College in Bangor, he was forced to make a decision regarding moving away to find employment or coming back into the family fishing business.
“I love the Down East area,” he said. “And I realized I love the lobster business.”
Dorr said that even lobstermen sometimes scratch their heads and ask themselves “Why do we do this?” since it means long hours and not a large profit margin.
“I guess it is just in our blood,” he said. “It’s about the challenge.”
Dorr said that when the boats are unable to fish because of severe weather — such as was the case with a major snowstorm this week — lobsters being kept in indoor impoundments are still available for sale. The temperature is kept at 38 degrees F, which slows the lobsters down and “puts them asleep,” Dorr said. He explained that this keeps them in a better condition for sale and shipping.
“We are considered a small lobster company, selling 1,000 to 2,000 lobsters a day,” Dorr said.
“This is what the Maine Lobster industry is all about — sustainability,” Dane Somers, executive director of the Maine Lobster Promotion Council, said in a prepared statement. “We have to continue to innovate and go where the market is, and it’s great to see a longtime family business take the initiative.”
Lobsters and other seafood products can also be ordered online at www.dorrlobster.com, or by calling 546-7488.
Correction: An earlier version of this article incorrectly called the app the first of its kind. An earlier Bangor Daily News article details an app that allows you to order lobster to your home.