Family-like feel: Cenac Marine Services withstands the test of time

Trump’s budget concerns
May 31, 2017
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May 31, 2017
Trump’s budget concerns
May 31, 2017
2 steps forward; 2 steps back
May 31, 2017

Preparing for the unexpected has placed some local companies in a position to weather economic downturn.

As the local energy industry places a greater emphasis on inland transport of products and goods, those companies that have made investments toward that end or have adapted into those markets, local economic development experts say, are dong well.

With 400 employees, 31 vessels, 68 barges and an overall 100 years in the business, Houma-based Cenac Marine long ago made its mark on local industry and continues to do so.

Founded by marine transportation pioneer Jock Cenac, passed on to Arlen B. Cenac, and now in the hands of Arlen B. Cenac Jr., the firm has continued hiring throughout the local economic slowdown and is hiring still.

Arlen B. Cenac Jr. says continued capital expansion, including the building of new boats and barges, has allowed a continued leadership position in the industry.

“Years ago, Cenac Towing made a strategic decision to expand our target market. We now serve the entire Intracoastal Canal and related river systems,” Cenac said. “This regional footprint protects us from any localized downturn in the economy. We here are uniquely positioned with the youngest, most modern fleet in the business.”

Cenac says he has considered himself a part of the business since the age of 5-years-old, raised on and around boats all of his life and as he grew older working on them every summer. The maritime business, he says, is literally in his blood.

At a time when the economy locally has become difficult, he expresses gratitude that the firm is a place where qualified people who also consider themselves inextricably attached to the waterways can find an employment home.

Operating as a family, Cenac says, makes a huge difference.

The company is not exclusive to the inshore, however.

The 116-foot Horace Cenac and 115-foot J.J. Cenac are flag-ship vessels that address the needs of Louisiana’s offshore activities.

The 98-foot Loretta G. Cenac is the largest inshore vessel, with most of the boats below her in the 78-foot range and smaller.

Operating those boats – and shoreside facilities – with safety in mind has also been essential.

That’s why Cenac says he is particularly pleased that this year the company was recognized with an award naming it among the state’s safest places to work.

“We pride ourselves on providing top of the line training for all of our employees. It’s a vital part of our success in the maritime industry,” Cenac said, after Cenac Marine Services was presented with the Louisiana Workmen’s Compensation Corporation’s “Safest 70” award last month.

The company was recognized based on the effectiveness of its safety efforts in preventing injuries and controlling costs.

“We are honored to have received such an award,” Cenac said. “We’d like to also acknowledge that this award would not be possible without the hard work and dedication of all of our wonderful employees.”

As for the future, Cenac says better times are coming overall.

“I think the growth will be slow and steady this coming year. The regulatory environment is stimulating confidence in the energy sector again. I see only positive things happening in 2017 and I’m looking forward to it,” he said. “We should slowly start to see an increase in investment dollars.” •

Cenac Marine Services