Wednesday, October 7, 2015

CBC Holds Shoreside GOAL ZERO Meeting

For first time in Canal Barge Company’s history, we held a company-wide “Shoreside” Goal Zero Meeting on September 25, 2015. All 8 offices/facilities gathered and joined via video conference, while others dialed in on the conference call line. In total, we had over 150 employees participate in a critical meeting to focus our company on our most important core value – Safety.

President and CEO Merritt Lane kicked off the meeting, followed by messages from Joe Tyson (Senior VP Operations), Del Wilkins (VP Northern Operations), Troy Remy (VP Human Resources), and Tom Smith (VP Quality and Customer Service). Below is a recap of the key messages from the meeting:

Safety is Our #1 Value. The safety of all CBC employees and their families, ashore and afloat, is our #1 core value. This should be evident in everything that we do. Safety leadership is expected from all of us, starting with Merritt and running throughout the organization.

Goal Zero - We are confident that Goal Zero is attainable because we believe that all incidents and accidents are avoidable. We are committed to learning from all incidents in order to raise awareness and design operational improvements that can prevent them from happening.

Safety is not a program, but a habit. Safe practices will lead to the elimination of injuries, so we are increasing our focus not just on better safety results, but on the safe practices that will lead to fewer incidents. It must be a priority to all of us, all of the time.

Safety is personal. We all can and must be safety leaders regardless of our job responsibility.

Safety matters at work and at home. Safety is not just a work-related responsibility – it’s about all aspects of our lives and the things we do every day to decrease the risk of incident. Safe practice is about focus, awareness and discipline – all of which is highlighted in the CBC S.A.F.E. program (Stop, Assess, Focus, Execute).

Stop Work Obligation - To assist all employees, we have created many tools and techniques. One of the most important concepts we have been sharing Stop Work Obligation. It is our responsibility to take action if we see an unsafe condition or behavior. It takes courage to exercise Stop Work Obligation.

Friday, August 28, 2015

Commemorating Hurricane Katrina – A Letter from Merritt Lane

Letter from Merritt Lane, CBC President and CEO:

August 29, 2015 marks the 10th anniversary of Hurricane Katrina. There have been countless articles, new stories and events talking about the storm and its impact on our community and its citizens. Needless to say, we have all been through a lot whether as CBC employees or simply as New Orleanians and people who live along the Gulf Coast. It was certainly an extraordinary time for our company and I’d like to take a moment to reflect on the extraordinary resiliency of both our community and our company. In my view, despite the heartache, both institutions are markedly stronger than they were in 2005.

Fortunately for Canal Barge Company, Katrina’s greatest force was felt east of New Orleans, along the Mississippi Gulf Coast, where we have very limited marine operations. We were able to hold up or move our vessels either west or north of New Orleans; we experienced downtime, but no damage to our marine assets. Also, most of our mariners did not live in New Orleans; in fact, most lived inland from the Gulf Coast, so their homes were mostly spared. As a result, the main effect of Katrina was on our shoreside staff—and it was very significant.

When our management team went home on the Friday night before Katrina, we were watching the storm tracking towards Florida. In the abundance of caution, we agreed to have an all-hands executive team conference call on Saturday morning at 10 a.m. By that time, the storm had turned, and New Orleans was within the “cone of uncertainty.” We activated our Hurricane Plan, and my family and I started packing. We packed three days’ worth of clothes. We also deployed several advance team staff members to Houston and Memphis so that we would have the necessary resources in place to manage daily operations.

Thanks to our well-executed Hurricane Plan, we were able to locate all of our employees by day 3 after the storm and make sure they and their families were safe. Canal Barge moved most of our New Orleans area-based employees and their families to remote office locations in Houston, Memphis and Baton Rouge, as well as our existing facilities in Sulphur, LA and Channahon, IL. We provided an uninterrupted payroll, and assisted with transportation, housing, schools and other basic services. We ran Canal Barge Company in this structure for about 110 days until we could safely return to establish normal operations in the New Orleans area once again. During the days, weeks, and months that followed Hurricane Katrina, Canal Barge learned the true strength of our relationships. Our people really made the difference, and our customers and vendors were equally supportive. Thanks to the professionalism and commitment of our mariners, we never missed a sailing or failed to meet a customer requirement, and our operation was incident-free. The confidence we gained from this experience has formed the foundation for unprecedented growth and opportunity for our company ever since.

The CBC story is compelling and worth both celebrating and using as a reminder of why CBC is such a successful organization. We were blessed with committed employees, a good game plan and leaders who were capable of and willing to lead. We proved the importance of both being prepared through planning and repeated training, and, most importantly, having a strong and healthy organizational culture. Coming together as the ‘CBC Family’ allowed us to focus on running our business while simultaneously helping our employees and their families in their time of need.

My greatest lesson learned from this experience remains: you need to run your business well every day, not just during emergencies. The fact that we had a good team who trusted one another and a culture that pulls together through both good and bad times really made the difference for CBC. I know from experience that if you take care of your people they will take care of you as well. Thank you all for making a difference at CBC.

Stay safe,

Merritt Lane

Friday, June 5, 2015

2014 Jones F. Devlin Awards for Maritime Safety

On May 28, 2015, the Chamber of Shipping of America (CSA) honored the U.S. Maritime Industry for safe marine operations at the Annual Safety Awards Luncheon held at the Hilton Riverside Hotel in New Orleans. Jones F. Devlin Awards are given to vessels that have operated for at least two years without a lost-time injury.

At Canal Barge Company, we know that confidence starts with good people and we are proud to announce a total of 17 CBC towboats and 4 Illinois Marine Towing (IMT) towboats earned 2014 Jones F. Devlin honors. Five CBC vessels have operated 10 consecutive years or more without a lost-time injury! Canal Barge continues to be proud of our exceptional crews for demonstrating our strong commitment to safety and environmental stewardship.

MV CHOCTAW – 13 years
MV LIBERTY – 13 years
MV SPIRIT – 13 years
MV MARY LUCY LANE – 11 years
MV HAMILTON – 8 years
MV ELLY LANE – 8 years
MV COUSHATTA – 4 years
MV INTEGRITY – 3 years
MV SUSAN L. STALL – 3 years
MV CHANNAHON – 5 years (IMT vessel)
MV AGGIE C – 2 years (IMT vessel)
MV ALBERT C – 2 years (IMT vessel)
MV WINDY CITY – 2 years (IMT vessel)

As always, our goal is the elimination of all incidents and injuries.

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

CBC’s Night Operations Restored

Effective immediately, CBC’s Night Ops based in our Sulphur office has re-established its normal and customary contact procedures using 504-581-2424 as well as their regular office phones and email.

Most Sulphur-based staff and functions have re-established their normal contact information as well, and we will continue the move-in to the new Swisco Road office the remainder of this week. Starting Wednesday, June 10, 2015, all Sulphur-based crew changes will take place at 1891 Swisco Road.

Many thanks again to all Sulphur-based employees, our I.T. staff, and all of you for assisting with the transition to our new office.

Monday, June 1, 2015

Alternate Contact Information for CBC’s Sulphur, LA Office

Starting at 9:30 am, Tuesday, June 2, Canal Barge Company’s Sulphur, LA office will initiate a move to our new location in Sulphur, with a temporary interruption to our office phone system. Therefore, for a period of 1-2 days, our Sulphur-based operations will be working with cell phones only.

During this time you will be able to connect to all CBC Sulphur-based functions at 504-581-2424. You will also be able to communicate via email as normal with all Sulphur-based CBC employees. All other CBC locations will be unaffected by this office movement in Sulphur.

In addition to being able to connect at any time of the day or night at 504-581-2424, you can reach the following people and functions at the listed cell phone numbers:

  • Pat Riley – (504)-908-5928

Night Operations – (504)-581-2424

Tankerman Services

  • Steve Cameron – (504)-400-5372
  • Brian Victorian – (337)-965-0698
  • Jeff Kellum – (337)-965-0011 or (936)-689-9192
  • Benita Duplechin – (337)-965-0722

Barge Readiness/Quality Assurance

  • Marlan Fruge – (504)-400-6024

Boat Maintenance

  • Brandon Holmes – (504)-615-8908
  • Gary Holmes – (504)-390-3653
  • Milton Crooks – (504)-256-5213

Barge Maintenance

  • Brandon LeMaire – (504)-202-8372
  • Jody Blessing – (504)-208-8787

Sulphur Warehouse, Purchasing

  • Herschel Henderson – (337)-965-0781

As a reminder, all Canal Barge Company operations based out of Sulphur, LA office will not be accessible by office-based telephone beginning at 9:30 am, Tuesday, June 2. All CBC Sulphur-based employees and functions are accessible during this time by email. In addition to the above cell phone contact information, you can always reach the appropriate CBC contact during the telephone outage at (504)-581-2424.

We will post an update once office phones have been re-established at our new location in Sulphur.

Thank you for your cooperation.

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Executive Safety Leadership Workshop

On March 25, 2015, CBC held our first Executive Safety Leadership Workshop. The half-day, off-site meeting was attended by Key Managers and Executive Staff with the purpose of evaluating the company’s safety and leadership culture. The discussion centered on bench-marking CBC’s safety leadership practices and culture against some of the highest performing safety organizations, as identified by the National Safety Council.

The group actively participated in discussions regarding the importance of safety management systems to a company’s safety performance and overall success. The participants also committed to ensuring safety is the foundation of their daily business decisions, and promoting safety regularly with their teams.

CBC’s primary core value is the commitment to the safety and health of all employees, protecting the environment and our equipment. Our goal is zero incidents.

Monday, February 9, 2015

NWF Publishes Study Evaluating the Economic Impacts of Infrastructure Investment

The National Waterways Foundation recently published a fascinating study, ‘An Evaluation of Economic Impacts and the Potential Effects of Infrastructure Investment.’ The study was prepared by the University of Kentucky and the University of Tennessee. Researchers finished the two-year report in November of 2014.

The study first evaluates the total economic importance of commercial inland navigation to the country in navigation’s present form and assumes only sufficient investment to maintain current system performance. This is followed by a scenario that considers the economy-wide impacts of proposed improvements to navigation system capacity and performance under traffic demands that are similar to current freight flows. Investing in our nation’s waterways infrastructure not only secures a competitive advantage for American-made goods in an international market but also provides family-wage jobs to boost our overall economy.

Check out the NWF Study Brochure here. You can also read the full study here.

Saturday, December 20, 2014

2014 Environmental Achievement Awards

At Canal Barge we know that confidence starts with safety and environmental responsibility. On November 13, 2014, the Chamber of Shipping of America (CSA) honored U.S. maritime industry ships, tugs and towboats for operating consecutive 2+ years without a fuel spill. We are proud to announce that 23 CBC and 8 IMT vessels received 2013 Environmental Achievement Awards.

Congratulations to the dedicated crews of our vessels being honored with this award for continuing to demonstrate Canal Barge’s commitment to safety and environmental stewardship.

CBC Vessels:

MV MARY LUCY LANE – 15 years
MV HAMILTON – 13 years
MV LUKE BURTON – 10 years
MV SUSAN L. STALL – 10 years
MV CHOCTAW – 6 years
MV COUSHATTA – 6 years
MV INTEGRITY – 6 years
MV JOSEPH M. JONES – 6 years
MV LAKE CHARLES  – 6 years
MV CAROLINE – 5 years
MV BULL CALF – 4 years
MV INNOVATOR – 3 years
MV ELLY LANE – 2 years
MV LIBERTY – 2 years
MV NED MERRICK – 2 years

IMT Vessels:

MV AGGIE C – 15 years
MV ALBERT C – 15 years
MV CHANNAHON – 15 years
MV EILEEN C – 15 years
MV MARY C – 15 years
MV WILLIAM C – 15 years
MV WINDY CITY – 15 years

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Thoughts of Thanksgiving from Merritt Lane

Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday by far. I love that the whole concept of the holiday is to give thanks for our many blessings – our families, our friends, our health and good fortune. I also love that it is not defined by what you get or even where you go, but by how you feel about your life and the people with whom you share it. While other countries and cultures celebrate similar holidays, our Thanksgiving is uniquely American. What a wonderful opportunity to be reminded of our priorities and how fortunate we are to be alive in these times and in this country with so many freedoms, opportunities and privileges.

I am incredibly grateful for the many wonderful blessings of my life, not least of which is the opportunity to work with and to serve all of you. I want to send a special thank you to all of our men and women who serve aboard our vessels and in other jobs that take them away from home and to wish the entire CBC Family a safe, happy and healthy Thanksgiving.

Merritt Lane

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Spencer Murphy Completes Term as GICA President

Spencer Murphy, General Counsel for Canal Barge Company, wrapped up his term as President of the Gulf Intracoastal Canal Association (GICA) in August 2014 by hosting the successful 109th Annual GICA Convention in New Orleans, LA. GICA is a not-for-profit trade association dedicated to ensuring the Gulf Intracoastal Waterway is properly maintained, operated and improved to provide a safe, efficient, economical and environmentally-sound water transportation route serving the Gulf Coast. Canal Barge Company’s roots date back to operating primarily along the canal system in and around New Orleans. CBC has been a supporter of GICA for many years and values its role in promoting safe and efficient marine transportation between major ports such as New Orleans, Baton Rouge, Houston, and Corpus Christi.

The 109th Annual GICA Convention held at the Westin Canal Place focused on the recent passage of the Water Resources and Reform Development Act (WRRDA) that was signed into law in June after it passed through both houses of Congress with significant bipartisan support. During the official signing ceremony in June, President Obama said, “Many of America’s businesses ship their goods across the country by river and by canal, so we’ve got to make sure that those waterways are in tip-top shape.” This bill has a significant impact on the various players in the industry and therefore was the primary focus of the convention. Special guests and speakers included Rear Adm. Kevin Cook, Commander of the Eighth Coast Guard District; Mike Toohey, President of Waterways Council, Inc.; Gary LaGrange, President CEO of the Port of New Orleans; and the Keynote Speaker was Rep. Bill Shuster (R-PA). Rep. Shuster is Chairman of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee who worked with Sen. David Vitter (R-LA) in passing the WRRDA bill. Chairman Shuster also praised the efforts of Jim Stark, GICA Executive Director and Spencer Murphy who helped with lobbying efforts to secure final passage of WRRDA. The convention also touched on important issues such as training needs to develop the next generation of mariners as well as dredging issues and e-navigation tools.

For a comprehensive review of the Annual GICA Convention, check out the August 18th issue of the Waterways Journal.