Continued legacy: Bollinger makes changes, but results still steady

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The leadership structure at Bollinger Shipyards isn’t the same today as it was in the past.

But the company’s commitment to excellence and safety hasn’t budged. In fact, it may be stronger than ever.

Bollinger changed the local marine landscape more than two years ago when the company sold its ownership to a group headed by businessmen who own Edison Chouest Offshore.

The new company shield is guided by CEO Ben Bordelon – the grandson of Donald G. Bollinger – the patriarch of the long-standing local company, which has been in business since 1946.

Since taking over, Bordelon has led the company to continued success in all realms.

This past week, Bollinger had one of their proudest moments yet, earning the 2016 Award for Excellence in Safety, as given by the Shipbuilders Council of America.

It’s the 12th-straight year the Lockport-based company earns the award – something Bordelon said he’s most proud of.

“This recognition of exceptional safety performance by the shipbuilding and repair industry is realized only through the continued efforts of Bollinger employees who have made safety a priority,” Bordelon said. “Bollinger remains committed to attaining the highest level of safety and supports future safety innovations in the maritime industry.”

Bordelon talked about the “commitment” the company has to safety, innovations and keeping employees safe and happy.

Those are all fundamental, company-wide philosophies his grandfather used to start the company now more than 70 years ago.

Donald G. Bollinger started the company in 1946 as a small-town, family-run shipyard in Lockport – a business that no one ever dreamed would become anywhere near as big as it now is today.

Donald Bollinger was an optimist by nature, according to a company-written bio on Bollinger’s website.

He had to be. He was raised in the Great Depression.

Together with his brothers, who were servicemen, the company boomed as the oilfield did locally after World War II, blossoming further into the 1970s and 1980s.

Through all the growth, the business had some leadership and executive shuffles along the way while always remaining family-owned.

That changed when the Chouest purchase took place, though with Bordelon at the helm, a man with Bollinger blood is still at the helm of day-to-day operations.

Competition and business savvy are also in his blood, too.

A former LSU football player who had a short run in the NFL, Bordelon took over as president and CEO of Bollinger with loads of expertise in how the company is run.

Bordelon had been a high-ranking official with Bollinger for several years at the time of his appointment.

He was the company’s chief operating officer at the time of the sale.

Bordelon had also been a member of the Bollinger board of directors since 2002, and was the company’s executive vice president of repair.

When the sale was announced, Bordelon, a Central Lafourche High School graduate, said he shared the same vision as his grandfather, and couldn’t wait to bring that vision into action for the shipbuilding company that’s generated billions of dollars worth of contracts since its existence.

“Fishing with my grandfather near the family marsh near Leeville gave me a lot of time to hear stories about his vision, as well as his personal and business life,” Bordelon said. “I look forward to building on the values set out by my grandfather all those years ago. With a commitment to our customers, a deep appreciation for our workers, a strong focus on safety, the clean environment and quality service, we will grow this company as we build on a great base.”

So far, he’s helped to do exactly that.

In the past several years, Bollinger has delivered 23 Fast Response Cutters to the United States Coast Guard – a great feather in the cap for the local company.

The ship is slender, but powerful – a 154-foot patrol craft that was named after a Coast Guard hero who distinguished himself in the line of duty.

The vessel has top speeds of 28 knots and is loaded with a state-of-the-art command center, control communications and computer technology.

“It’s a game changer,” a high-ranking official with the Coast Guard said in a news release.

For Bollinger, it’s a game changer, too.

The company has logged countless hours of work time on the ships, which are built then deployed around the world for Coast Guard use.

The latest was delivered on April 20 – the Benjamin Dailey. The company also owns contracts to produce several more over the next several years.

The ships, Bordelon said, had played a huge hand in helping the Coast Guard save countless lives, while also assisting in narcotics busts and other missions.

“We are extremely proud that the Fast Response Cutters built locally on the bayou by Louisiana craftsmen are having such a major impact on our nation’s security,” Bordelon said when the Benjamin Dailey was launched. “We at Bollinger Shipyards are looking forward to hearing of the heroic exploits of the USCGC Benjamin Dailey as it joins the Coast Guard’s operational fleet.”

New leadership, yes.

But at Bollinger, things are still keeping up with the status quo – award-winning work, top-notch safety and a continued commitment to being an economic leader.

That’s been Bollinger’s way – now 70 years and counting.

“Our company is proud of its accomplishments,” Bordelon said. “We look forward to its future – one which we expect to be very bright.” •


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