by Tina Pomroy

    Mckeil Marine Barges Into Newfoundland & Labrador

    (Above: McKeil barge and tug are transporting tanks to the Vale project in Long Harbour, Newfoundland, Canada)

    Three of McKeil Marine’s success factors are clarity of its core business in cost-effective transportation and project services support; skilled ­sailing and support crew, engineers, and ­architects, and attention to customers.

    Known for its hospitality and nearby salmon fishing river, the small town of Glovertown, Newfoundland and Labrador, will see employment opportunities rise due to the construction of two new ocean-going deck barges at the Glovertown Shipyard. McKeil Marine recently opened an office in St. John’s, Newfoundland and Labrador, to serve the growing offshore oil and gas industry in the region. Contracted by Kiewit-Kvaerner Contractors, the company is collaborating with Mammoet Canada Eastern Ltd. and Hunt’s Transport Ltd., on the Hebron Project. They have hired Govertown Marine Ltd. to build two new deck barges that will operate at the Hebron Oilfield Gravity Base Structure Project Site.  In addition to a fleet expansion, the St. John’s office is expected to help further McKeil’s growth and enhance services in the Atlantic region.

    St. John’s is the capital city of the beautiful and rugged Canadian province of Newfoundland and Labrador – most eastern province in the country. With a population of 512,000, this province has transformed from an economically poor province to one of prosperity and affluence. The booming offshore oil and gas industry has greatly contributed to that change. Newfoundland people have always enjoyed a reputation of being a friendly, creative, resourceful bunch with strong roots and a history of leaving the province to find work. With the tables turned now, people and companies from all over the world are going to Newfoundland and Labrador for work and business.

    McKeil Marine’s connection to Newfoundland goes deeper than the Atlantic Ocean waters. For 56 years, McKeil Marine  has provided marine transportation and project services support to the Great Lakes, Eastern Canada, and the Arctic. With its headquarters in Hamilton, Ontario, Canada, it has been linked to Atlantic Canada since its early days. Founder, Evans McKeil, was raised in Pugwash, Nova Scotia, and the company’s first captain was from Newfoundland. Now, over 60% of its current sailing crew hail from Newfoundland and Labrador.

    Additionally, in 2010, the marine transportation contract for the Vale Inco – Long Harbour Nickel Processing Plant in Newfoundland and Labrador was awarded to McKeil Marine. Proficient in strategic alliances, McKeil was contracted by Mammoet Canada Eastern Ltd. during the Vale project and provided nine tug and barge units to assist with marine logistics for the project.

    Blair McKeil, chairman and CEO of McKeil Marine (and son of Evans McKeil), says the company’s vision is “to be recognized as the first choice for tug and barge services from the Great Lakes through to Eastern Canada and the Arctic.” He adds that the company is “passionate about our people, and we care about the communities where we operate and where our people live.” Opening an office in Newfoundland and Labrador makes good business sense. It also unites history with the future.

    McKeil has enjoyed success by providing innovative transportation solutions and differentiating itself from competitors. Blair McKeil says, “We have a healthy disrespect for the way things are. We question and analyze how goods are moved and continually strive to create efficiencies throughout the logistics supply chain.” This attention to continuous improvement and innovation has allowed McKeil Marine and Hunts Transport to collaborate in the past. As part of the Highway H2O project, McKeil Marine transported tractor trailers, cranes, and other materials through the Great Lakes St. Lawrence Seaway System, removed Hunts’ trucks from the congested highways, and gained profits and sustainable business for both companies – a win-win strategic business success.

    Clarity of its core business in cost-effective transportation and project services support, skilled sailing and support crew, engineers, and architects, and attention to customers are three of McKeil Marine’s success factors. However, what makes this company’s success swell is more than that. Blair McKeil says, “Our company culture is one of sharing and caring, and it is what allows us to make a difference with our people and the communities where they live. We are a family business. Honesty, respect, and a strong sense of community make us proud and ensure sustainability.”

    Commitment to community involvement and environmental sustainability are demonstrated by its partnership with Marine Delivers, its charity and community donation program, McKeil Cares, and its membership in Green Marine. McKeil Marine walks the talk—or sails the hail.

    It is not surprising that Blair McKeil was awarded with a Medal of Merit in August 2012. He acknowledges that it was his father’s vision to have a company that continuously demonstrates a commitment to people, community, and excellent customer service. “Giving back to the community matters,“ says Blair. As a great leader does, he credits his employees for “making a difference and contributing to the company’s longevity and success.”

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