Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Times-Picayune: “Single Barge Spawned New Orleans Firm”

The New Orleans newspaper, The Times-Picayune, featured Canal Barge Company in the December 7, 2011 edition, highlighting our business, our people and our industry. This is another example of our commitment to being active members of the communities in which we live and work.

The transcript of the story is below, or to view the full article, please click here.

President of Canal Barge Says He Values His Workforce
Published: Tuesday, December 06, 2011, 6:38 PM
By Richard Thompson, The Times-Picayune

Exactly 78 years to the day after his grandfather started the Canal Barge Co., Merritt Lane III said Tuesday that while “the technology really hasn’t changed that much” for the tow and barge industry, plenty has changed since the New Orleans company got going with a single barge hauling fuel along the Gulf Intracoastal Waterway in 1933. Speaking at a monthly meeting of ACG Louisiana, a local chapter of the Association for Corporate Growth, Lane, who took the helm of Canal Barge in 1994, said the company now has 595 employees and operates 823 barges. He stressed the importance of the maritime shipping industry’s contributions to the national economy, even though it is often “out of view.”

Canal, which specializes in transporting liquid, dry and deck cargoes, as well as storing bulk liquid products, has expanded considerably in recent years, including a 2007 acquisition of ConocoPhillips’ inland marine fleet of seven tugboats and 14 tank barges, and the 2008 deal that netted Illinois Marine Towing, which handles towing, fleeting and shipyard services along the Illinois waterway.

Lane, who started at Canal in 1986 before becoming president and CEO, said his more than two decades at the company have taught him the importance of “working with our employees, rather than seeing it as an input into our business.”

For an industry that depends on training and maintaining a ready workforce, Lane described his motto as “hire for attitude, train for skill,” and said Canal plans to spend $2.7 million next year on mariner training initiatives.

“We see them as the future,” he told the group. “We talk to 20 individuals to hire one ‘green’ deckhand.”

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

NPR Features “Barge Companies Follow Trains and Toot Their Horn”

On December 6, 2011, NPR’s program All Things Considered featured a story, “Barge Companies Follow Trains and Toot Their Horn” by Blake Farmer, that highlighted the inland waterways industry’s benefits to America and included comments from Merritt Lane, CBC’s President and CEO. To listen to the story, please click here.

The transcript of the story is below.

Barge Companies Follow Trains and Toot Their Horn
By Blake Farmer

The railroad industry has been tooting its own horn over the last three years, letting the world know how efficiently cargo can move by rail. Now barge companies are hopping on that same public relations train.

They’re trying to get noticed in the infrastructure spending debate, which often stops with the three “Rs” of transportation - roadways, runways and railways. The barge industry is introducing a fourth “R” rivers.

The nation’s 12,000 miles of navigable waterway touch 38 states. But for the most part, barges operate in the shadows, under bridges and on lonely stretches of river.

“We certainly need to work harder to be as visible and we’re trying to do that,” says Dan Mecklenborg, senior vice president of one of the largest barge companies in America - Ingram, based in Nashville.

He says the industry can no longer afford to stay out of sight. River infrastructure has outlived its 50-year life expectancy. Failure of a major lock or dam could bring commercial traffic to a halt.

Repairs will take big bucks. And to win public support, Mecklenborg says barge companies are trying to one-up the railroads.

“We’re even better”
“Our message is, we’re even better,” he says.

“In fact,” states a TV commercial from the barge industry, “barges have the best record among rail and truck.”

The claim is based on the research of Jim Kruse at the Texas Transportation Institute. He says moving by river is certainly a slow alternative.

“But it is by far the most efficient way to move things when you talk about fuel consumed and emissions being put into the atmosphere,” he says.

Tug boats still burn a lot of fuel - several thousand gallons a day. But they move a lot of cargo too.

Merritt Lane is CEO of Canal Barge Company out of New Orleans and says with the whole PR push, he’s started putting the scale in terms people understand.

Understandable terms
“Instead of talking about a grain barge moving 1500 tons of wheat, that’s 2.5 million loafs of bread or that [one] gasoline barge can move enough gasoline to keep 2,500 automobiles running for a year,” he says. “That means a little more to John Q Public.”

It would take 12 dozen tractor trailers to haul that much gas. Putting it on a barge is not only more efficient, Lane says, it also keeps those trucks off the crowded highways.

An Ingram tow boat loaded down with coal approaches a lock on the winding Cumberland River. Deckhands in yellow rain suits radio instructions to the captain.

“Need to come up on your port about six inches,” one says.

This is the pinch point where barge companies depend on government. Locks function like elevators on the water…that is, unless they’re broken. Then they’re just roadblocks.

On the way up, the chamber fills with water to raise the boat to the lake level behind the dam. Ingram’s David Edgin points to water spewing through seals in a 50-year-old gate.

“It didn’t use to do that,” he says. “To me it’s a sign of the times.”

Elsewhere, catastrophe has been narrowly avoided. On the Ohio River, a 250-ton gate snapped off its hinges. In October, a concrete lock wall collapsed.

“It used to be preventive maintenance. We would fund things in advance of breaking,” says the Army Corps of Engineers’ Jeff Ross.

Fix it as it breaks
The Corps’ $180 million annual repair budget is only enough to fix parts as they break, Ross says. Soon he says there won’t be money to do that

“We’re having to start evaluating what will we not take care of if it goes out,” he says.

But if the Corps’ can’t afford to maintain the entire river system, maybe it shouldn’t, says Steve Ellis. He’s vice president of Taxpayers for Common Sense.

“People at their kitchen tables are having to figure out how to tighten their belts and this is an industry that seems to not get it,” he says.

Ellis used to manage the Coast Guard’s inland waterway fleet, so he knows rivers. The Mississippi and Ohio are vital, he says, like interstates. But Ellis compares tiny tributaries not to back roads, but to driveways.

“We’re spending a lot of public dollars maintaining waterways that are for a few private businesses,” he says. “When you get to that point, that’s what they are, they’re driveways.”

Barge companies say rivers big and small need an estimated $8 billion worth of work. They hope to convince Americans that’s a relatively small price for keeping a valuable mode of transportation afloat.

Copyright WPLN and National Public Radio.

Monday, November 28, 2011

2011 Environmental Achievement Awards

At Canal Barge we know that confidence starts with safety and environmental responsibility. On November 17, 2011, 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 19 CBC and 8 IMT vessels received 2011 Environmental Achievement Awards.

Ron Zornes, CBC Director of Corporate Operations, and JJ Jaskot from Jones Walker accept the awards on behalf of CBC and IMT. Photo courtesy of Champagne Photography.

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 – 12 years
MV NED MERRICK – 12 years
MV HAMILTON – 10 years
MV LUKE BURTON – 7 years
MV SUSAN L. STALL – 7 years
MV CHOCTAW – 3 years
MV COUSHATTA – 3 years
MV INTEGRITY – 3 years
MV JOSEPH M. JONES – 3 years
MV LAKE CHARLES  – 3 years
MV LIBERTY – 3 years
MV SPIRIT – 3 years
MV CAROLINE – 2 years
MV ELLY LANE – 2 years

IMT Vessels:
MV AGGIE C – 12 years
MV ALBERT C – 12 years
MV CHANNAHON – 12 years
MV EILEEN C – 12 years
MV HENNEPIN I – 12 years
MV MARY C – 12 years
MV WILLIAM C – 12 years
MV WINDY CITY – 12 years

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

The Idea Village Asks “What If?”

In 2000, The Idea Village was formed by a group of New Orleans entrepreneurs, energized by experiences in thriving communities across the United States. The founders determined that the key to creating positive economic and social change in New Orleans was to create a vibrant entrepreneurial community. The Idea Village was formalized in 2002 as an independent 501(c) (3) non-profit organization with a mission to identify, support and retain entrepreneurial talent in New Orleans by providing business resources to high-impact ventures. Over the past 10 years, The Idea Village asked “What if entrepreneurs could grow successful start-ups in New Orleans and what if the movement became reality?”

Canal Barge Company is proud to support organizations, like The Idea Village, that are committed to New Orleans. To date, The Idea Village has supported 1,101 local entrepreneurs by engaging 1,746 professionals and providing over 42,000 hours towards business consulting and allocating $2.7 million in capital. Merritt Lane, President and CEO of CBC, has been closely involved with The Idea Village, serving as the inaugural Chairman of the Board and is currently a member of the Board of Directors.

The Idea Village recently produced a short video that highlights some of the outstanding start-ups they have fostered over the past 10 years. Please click here to watch the “What If?” video or visit www.ideavillage.org for more information.

Monday, September 12, 2011

The Great Boatlift of 9/11

As America reflects on the 10 year anniversary of the attacks on September 11, 2001, it is important to always remember the many heroes that volunteered to assist. Though much has been written about the events of the day, there is a lesser known story of how mariners of all types and backgrounds came together to rescue nearly 500,000 New Yorkers from the World Trade Center site.

Reuters.com recently featured a story that included a 10 minute documentary by Eddie Rosenstein, showcasing the heroics of many mariners who answered the call to action.

Canal Barge Company is proud of our mariners who have also stepped up in times of need.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

CityBusiness Honors Doug Downing with ‘Money Makers’ Recognition

On August 4, 2011, New Orleans CityBusiness magazine announced its inaugural class of ‘Money Makers’ honorees. The ‘Money Makers’ issue recognizes 50 financial professionals whose fiscal work, accomplishments and achievements have not only set the pace for their company but the region as a whole. Honorees were chosen from four areas of finance: Banking, Corporate, Investment, and Professional Finance.

Doug Downing, CFO for Canal Barge Company, was recognized in the Corporate Finance category. Congratulations to Doug for this public and well-deserved honor.

CityBusiness ‘Money Makers’ Honorees

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

CBC Represents Industry in Asian Carp Battle

Canal Barge Company is proud of Del Wilkins, Vice President of Northern Operations, and the Illinois Marine Towing crews for continuing to represent our industry and business interests in regards to the debate on how to effectively manage the Asian Carp population.

The Detroit Free Press recently interviewed Del Wilkins on this important issue and also spent time aboard an IMT vessel, the MV WINDY CITY. To read the full article, “Asian Carp: Battle lines are drawn at Chicago Ship Canal,”  please click here.

Monday, June 27, 2011

CBC Captains Assist VTS

Canal Barge Company Captains Simpson Kemp, Terry Hall and Daryl Wheeler assisted the U.S. Coast Guard at a temporary portable Vessel Traffic System (VTS) in Natchez, MS, during the recent high-water conditions. Its purpose was to monitor barge traffic to the north and south of Natchez to ensure vessels obeyed the traffic restrictions. The U.S. Coast Guard and industry groups place portable VTS trailers at critical points in the river system to ensure safe passage of mariners and their cargo during the difficult river conditions. The U.S. Coast Guard relies on industry experts to help provide active monitoring and navigational advice for vessels in particularly confined and busy waterways. Canal Barge Company is proud that our mariners stepped up to assist the industry and help ensure safe navigation of the waterways on which we live and work. 

The Natchez Democrat recently featured an article about the flood damage and the U.S. Coast Guard’s efforts to ensure safe river traffic along the still swollen Mississippi River system that included quotes from longtime CBC Captain Simpson Kemp. To read the article, please click here.

Monday, June 20, 2011

‘Our Nation’s Waterways: Keep America Moving’

Waterways Council, Inc., the national public policy organization that advocates for a properly funded and well-maintained system of inland waterways and ports, created a video to demonstrate the many benefits, both economic and environmental, the inland waterways system provides our nation. Click here to watch the 30 second video. You can also visit the Waterways Council, Inc. website to learn more about their ongoing efforts to keep the inland waterways system a safe, efficient and environmentally friendly mode of transportation.

Our Nation’s Waterways: Keep America Moving

Friday, June 3, 2011

2010 Jones F. Devlin Awards for Maritime Safety

On June 2, 2011, 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 Loews 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 19 CBC towboats earned 2010 Jones F. Devlin honors. Two CBC vessels have operated 15 consecutive years 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 NED MERRICK – 12 years
MV SUSAN L. STALL – 9 years
MV CHOCTAW – 9 years
MV LIBERTY – 9 years
MV CAROLINE – 5 years
MV ELLY LANE – 4 years
MV HAMILTON – 4 years
MV INTEGRITY – 4 years
MV JOSEPH M. JONES – 4 years
MV BULL CALF – 3 years
MV INNOVATOR – 2 years