For Bordelon Marine, quality is not a simple thing, President and CEO Wes Bordelon says. Based in Lockport, La., the company provides marine transportation services to clients primarily in the Gulf of Mexico and around the world.
But to be successful in this industry, companies like Bordelon Marine need a complete and connected package that includes well-trained mariners; excellent equipment; an effective quality, health and safe environment programs; real-time communications; and managers who can make everything work together. “All of these are crucial to delivering a quality service,” Wes Bordelon says.
Bordelon Marine’s history goes back to 1980, when Wes Bordelon’s father and uncle, Terry and Gerry Bordelon, started Bordelon Brother Offshore. Thirteen years later, the two men sold off the majority of the firm’s holdings. Terry Bordelon retained three utility vessels and operated them through the 1990s.
Wes Bordelon joined his family business in 1999 with a goal to rebuild it. Since then, the company has expanded its fleet to 12 new-generation offshore supply vessels, built a modern shipyard in Houma, La., and is in the process of building a new series of DP2 255 platform supply vessels (PSVs) called the Stingray series.
“The Stingray series is really the next step or evolution of Bordelon Marine,” Wes Bordelon says. “These are truly cutting-edge machines that will allow us to compete effectively in the deep-water markets. While it seems everyone is focused on simply going bigger, we made great efforts to incorporate today’s requirements into a smaller, more efficient and more affordable package.”
Setting Bordelon Apart
As a mid-sized private player that builds its own vessels, Bordelon Marine has set itself apart in its industry, Wes Bordelon says. “It’s not the typical model for a company of our size,” he declares. “Although there is an intimate and crucial relationship between building and operating modern PSVs, it requires two very different and unique talent sets.
“Managing and supporting these disciplines is ultimately the challenge for a small company,” Wes Bordelon continues. “But when you are [successful] at integrating the two, you are able to produce a much higher quality vessel in terms of construction and functionality, then in other scenarios.
“Having the ability to be adaptive and produce a quality vessel is what it’s all about,” Wes Bordelon says. “If you stay in this business long enough, you develop a certain affection for these big steel contraptions and begin to appreciate the fact that these vessels are an impressive balance of thought, machinery and technology. It’s hard to have your own truly unique and highly evolved design without having your own shipyard.”
Business Curve Balls
Bordelon Marine faces many challenges in its industry, including regulations that create uncertainty for the company, Wes Bordelon says. “These modern vessels today are built with sophisticated power management systems,” he explains, noting that technologies within the boat help manage output.
“[This] allows the vessel to use only the amount to thrust or KW power generation that is required at that moment,” he states. “Very simply said: If you don’t need the power, you’re not using the power. And as such you’re not burning the fuel.”
Another area where technology has aided the company is logistics. “You have to have [a] comprehensive and robust internal system to successfully manage a fleet in today’s market,” he says. “All of our vessels [are] tied in through satellite systems and are in real time communication with the home office.”
In the early days, vessels would communicate via a radio. “Now you can check the status of a vessel, heading, ETA, cargo, vessel systems and any crew reports,” Wes Bordelon says. “All from your computer or phone, anywhere, anytime.”
For the future, Bordelon Marine is focused on growing and developing its new Stingray series of vessels. “We’ve taken the necessary time and resources to fully [develop] this design,” Wes Bordelon says. “[They are] the next evolution of our company. We currently have three of the Stingray class vessels in production and plan to build three more following.”
As Bordelon Marine grows, the company will also be focused on maintaining its culture, Wes Bordelon says. “As I mentioned earlier, quality is more about your people than your equipment,” he says. “Without a strong supporting culture that promotes safety and growth … you’re swimming upstream and you can’t expect lasting results.”