The Bill Atkinson is one of five towboats Canal Barge will buy from Pine Bluff Sand & Gravel. (Photo by Jeff L. Yates)

Canal To Buy Five Pine Bluff Towboats

Pine Bluff Sand & Gravel Company and Canal Barge Company Inc. (CBC) announced on October 1 that they have signed a strategic agreement for Pine Bluff to sell five towboats to Canal Barge.

As part of the transaction, CBC will offer employment to all 80 of Pine Bluff’s Transportation Division mariners. Through an existing strategic towing partnership, Canal Barge will continue to provide transportation services to Pine Bluff for its crushed stone and riprap needs.

Founded in 1913 in Pine Bluff, Ark., Pine Bluff Sand & Gravel is a construction aggregates producer and marine and highway contractor with operations in Arkansas, Louisiana, Kentucky, Mississippi, Alabama, Illinois, and Tennessee.

“We are excited to strengthen our capabilities to deliver our construction aggregates by deepening our existing relationship with CBC,” said Pine Bluff CEO Brian McGeorge. “Pine Bluff and Canal Barge are both family owned companies with similar company cultures and values with deep roots in the maritime business. We’ve worked closely with CBC for the past five years and are excited about the opportunities this presents our mariners. Canal Barge and Pine Bluff both pride ourselves as having some of the safest and highest quality towing operations on the inland river system. We are extremely grateful to the hard-working men and women who have helped us build and maintain this culture.

“As we continue to focus on our core missions of supplying our customers’ high value, quality construction aggregates and marine and highway contracting, we believe this transition greatly strengthens our ability to do just that,” McGeorge continued. “As we surveyed the towing landscape, it became increasingly apparent that maintaining a competitive economy of scale as a smaller towing operation was going to be difficult. We owe it to all of our employees to put them in the best position for long-term success and believe that has been achieved here,” said McGeorge.

Canal Barge Company, headquartered in New Orleans, was founded in 1933 and is one of the largest and most diversified privately owned marine transportation and logistics companies in the country.

“We like to say that ‘People Make the Difference’ at Canal Barge, and we are excited to welcome all of the Pine Bluff mariners to the CBC family,” said Merritt Lane, Canal CEO. “The talent and safety culture that exists within this group of professional mariners is impressive and I am certain that they will be a great fit with our team. We are a growing company with a lot of opportunities for advancement and I am optimistic that we will enjoy a great future together. This transaction is a natural result of the deep and mutually successful partnership that we have enjoyed with Pine Bluff for several years and is an important step to advance CBC’s ‘Towboat Fleet of the Future’ strategy. The Pine Bluff boats are extremely well-conditioned and ideally suited to CBC’s long-term needs.”

The vessels included in the transaction are three 6,000 hp. towboats: the  mv. Don Boling, mv. Bill Atkinson and mv. Gerald Majors; and two 1,800 hp. retractable-wheelhouse towboats: the mv. Bill Rodgers and mv. George Rowe.

The transaction will not affect operations or employment at other Pine Bluff operations. Pine Bluff will retain its barge assets and remaining harbor/tender boat fleet.

Caption for photo: The Bill Atkinson is one of five towboats Canal Barge will buy from Pine Bluff Sand & Gravel. (Photo by Jeff L. Yates)