Charlotte Bollinger

Tuesday, Jan. 25
January 25, 2011
Thursday, Jan. 27
January 27, 2011
Tuesday, Jan. 25
January 25, 2011
Thursday, Jan. 27
January 27, 2011

Charlotte Bollinger believes in family-owned and operated businesses and that business should be run with the caring element of a family. Together, with her younger brother Donald T. “Boysie” Bollinger, she operates the nation’s third largest ship building corporation from their headquarters on Bayou Lafourche in Lockport.

“I came in at a good time, because in 1984 there was no construction being done in the oil field. So I was able to hang out with people [and learn],” Bollinger said. “Then we got the first Coast Guard contract and that was all assembled right here. So the whole company got involved and that was what changed everything.”

Since 1985, Bollinger Shipyards, with its current approximate annual revenue of $400 million, has built every U.S. Coast Guard Sentinel cutter from their location on Bayou Lafourche. Bollinger also built the Cyclone Class fleet of cutter ships for the U.S. Navy.

In addition to having the U.S. Armed Forces as their base customer they are able to perform work, including the construction of tugs, cargo and service ships without much worry of where the next order will come from.

“I’m doing exactly what I like to do. The board of directors is my brother and I and our two sons [Christopher B. Bollinger and Benjamin G. Bordelon], and my uncle [Richard “Uncle Dicky” Bollinger], who is president emeritus. He retired many years ago but he is on the board,” Bollinger said.

She said that by not being a public company, the Bollingers are able to deal with issues and ideas at anytime n the family home is only yards away from corporate headquarters n and rapidly change plans if necessary without having to jump through the hoops that are commonly required with publicly held corporations.

“It has been a privilege to be able to work with my family. I worked three generations with my father [company founder Donald G. Bollinger] and my brother and now with the two boys. I feel like a lucky woman to have seen it when I came in and where it’s gone,” Bollinger said.

Bollinger said that this family business has thrived as a family business in part because growing up she and her brother were part of the daily activities and did not have Dad going away to some obscure office. They are working to continue that tradition with following generations.

“My father always said, ‘I’m not in competition with anybody.’ I do what I do the way I do it with the culture we have developed here. Bollinger has a very unique culture that is respected within the community and in the industry that we serve,” she said.

Bollinger Shipyards perform construction as well as repair and maintenance at 13 facilities in Louisiana and Texas.

Bollinger said that she might not know how to weld but while she watches over insurance, benefits for employees and the state of the company she has respect for every employee, regardless of his or her role.

“You can say you are a family business but if you don’t treat people like part of your extended family it won’t ring true,” she said.

“You might not believe me, but [Boysie and I] have never had a fight. We might have differences of opinion but he is my friend as well as my brother and I respect what he has done for the nation and the community,” Bollinger said.

When she is not on the job, Bollinger remains active in educational matters in Lafourche Parish, is president of the New Orleans Ballet Association, and is a member of the Louisiana 1 Coalition and several other public service organizations. She has also been inducted into the Center for Women in Government Hall of Fame.

When considering what advice she may offer younger women getting into business, Bollinger said that a successful woman will surround herself by people with character, values and gifts that will enhance what she as a business leader has to offer.

“Be passionate about what you are doing,” Bollinger said. “I look at what I thought I could do with my life when I was 18 and what women can do with their lives now. There really is nothing now blocking anyone from doing what they want.”

Title: Executive vice president, Bollinger Shipyards Inc.

Age: 63

Family: Children Renee Gautreaux, Benjamin Bordelon, Robin Bordelon; grandchildren Jeremy, Lucy, Brooke, Bo and Brett

Education: Bachelor’s of Science degree in education from the University of Southern Louisiana

Career Experience: Taught English and speech and was a stay-at-home mom before joining the family business in 1984

Who was your biggest influence: Brother, Donald T. “Boysey” Bollinger

If you were not doing this what would you like to be doing? I can’t imagine not doing this.

What one word describes you: Passionate.