Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Thoughts on Thanksgiving from Merritt Lane

Hi everyone,
I wanted to drop a brief note of thanks to all of you for the amazingly professional work you do to keep our business moving safely and efficiently all day, every day. In spite of the distractions of challenging market conditions and a raucous and unsettling Presidential election, I gain confidence every day because of the skill, high character and constant commitment of the members of the CBC team. It has never been more true that “people make the difference” at Canal Barge and I assure you that we will continue to maintain the ever increasing standards of excellence that position our company to be successful throughout the years and regardless of market cycles.

Thanksgiving is a uniquely American holiday. It reminds me that we are blessed to live in the greatest country in the world. Our strong and diverse country, despite its flaws, continues to be the beacon of freedom and opportunity that our founders envisioned. Although sometimes painful to observe, the election process and peaceful transition of power after the people cast their votes is truly remarkable. I am confident that our system of government with its elegantly constructed set of checks and balances will continue to protect our country from despots and charlatans and will continue to drive constructive compromise. I sincerely hope that our leaders will put divisiveness behind us, find ways to pull the country together and focus on creating better opportunities for all Americans. We will most certainly do our part by being active citizens and promoting our industry and those that we serve as being a source of good jobs and meaningful contributions to the American quality of life.

My wish for all of you is that you and your family enjoy good health, safety, security and each other. Thank you again for everything and have a very Happy Thanksgiving.

Stay S.A.F.E.,

Saturday, June 4, 2016

Illinois Marine Towing Acquires Lemont, IL Harbor Services Operations of ARTCO

Illinois Marine Towing (IMT), Canal Barge Company’s wholly owned subsidiary, acquired the Lemont, Illinois harbor services operations of ARTCO (a transportation subsidiary of Archer Daniels Midland) on April 29, 2016.

We have already begun the transition of people and equipment into the IMT family and operation. This acquisition presented an opportunity to expand the operations of Illinois Marine Towing in the Chicago region. Del Wilkins, President of IMT, will oversee the transition of this operation into IMT.

The acquisition included 6 vessels, and we are pleased to announce the boats have been renamed. Canal  Barge Company’s northern operations (including IMT, Canal Terminal Company and Canal Analytical and Environmental Services) held a contest to name the new boats. We are pleased to announce the names for these IMT Towboats.

MV Chicago Merchant, formerly the Bill Arnold
MV Chicago Warrior, formerly the Donna Jean
MV Harbor Runner, formerly the Joe Avery
MV Midwest Leader, formerly the Buster White
MV Illini Courage, formerly the Pat White
MV Prairie State, formerly the Harvest Run

The opportunity to name a vessel is quite rare. It is a significance to be cherished and an honor that will live on within the history of IMT and overall tow boating industry. Capt. Tony Lopez, Micky Popplewell, Maria Torres, and Mike Blaske submitted the winning names.

Friday, May 20, 2016

Canal Barge Company Recognized as Top 40 Workplaces in New Orleans

We are excited to announce that Canal Barge Company has been recognized as one of the Top 40 Workplaces in the Greater New Orleans area and Merritt Lane won the special award for Leadership in a Mid-Size Company! The special event was hosted by the Times Picayune and held at the Mercedes Superdome on May 20, 2016. A 2016 employee survey was completed earlier this year and provided the data for the Top 40 Workplaces study.

Congrats and thanks to everyone in the CBC Family for making Canal Barge a great company where People Make the Difference everyday!

To see the full list of Top Workplaces in the Mid-Size Category, click here.

To see the full list of special awards recognized at the event, click here.

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Our Nation’s Waterways ‘Keep America Moving’

Waterways Council, Inc. (WCI) is the national public policy organization that advocates for a properly funded and well-maintained system of inland waterways and ports.

A few years ago, WCI created a 3 minute video highlighting the critical value of America’s waterways to the economy, the environment, energy efficiency, traffic congestion relief, exports, and to our quality of life. Click here to watch the video.

WCI also partnered with the United Soybean Board to create a 30 second commercial focusing on the impact our industry has on American the economy. Maintaining an efficient waterways system is critical to the long-term success of our industry and to our nation’s economy. Click here to watch the 30 second video.

Our Nation’s Waterways Keep America and Its Products Moving

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.

Monday, February 1, 2016

CBC Hosts Safety Meeting for Ohio River Towing Partners

The CBC Quality and Customer Service (Q&CS) team held a safety meeting on Thursday, January 28th with towing partners from the Ohio River region and several key customers. Q&CS was joined by CBC representatives from Marketing, Transportation Services, Barge Maintenance, and Operations. Representatives from Marquette Transportation, Hunter Marine, Campbell Transportation, Marathon Petroleum and CLM Towing participated in our Safety Meeting at CBC’s Downtown Office to discuss critical aspects of a Towing Vessel Safety Management System. The group was joined by vetting team members from Marathon Petroleum, Shell, and SeaRiver who provided a valuable perspective. (See photo below of the group present during the meeting.)

CBC’s transportation system relies on third party towing and fleeting operators to make our logistics system safe and efficient. Accordingly, CBC views these vendors as critical partners. We have high safety, environmental and quality expectations for these partners and have an interest in learning from them and they, in turn, learn from us.

Our safety and customer service goal is ZERO injuries and incidents!

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.