40 Under 40 Awards: Gentry, Graham And Grimmett

For the third year, 40 of the industry’s future leaders will be honored at the Inland Marine Expo with the “40 Under 40” award, which recognizes individuals for their outstanding contributions to the inland marine transportation industry in a variety of fields. All 40 honorees were nominated by executives and peers for their hard work and dedication to the industry.

Over the course of 14 weeks, The Waterways Journal is featuring all 40 recipients. This week we recognize Justin Gentry, Joseph Graham and Blake Grimmett.

Justin Gentry

Justin Gentry, 36, is operations manager for Okie Moore Diving and Marine Salvage, LLC in Memphis, Tenn.

Gentry has worked for Okie Moore since he was 18 years old. He started off working on the deck and now runs the operations as salvage master. He has salvaged more than 150 vessels, repaired docks, transferred barges and has worked from the Great Lakes to the Gulf.

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“He is a certified crane operator, a welder and cutter, a mechanic and runs the safety program for our salvage crew,” said Walt Wepfer, senior vice president of Wepfer Marine, Inc. “Justin ensures everything is done properly and safely and never cuts corners because he is an honest and humble man and knows that minor mistakes and lapses in judgment can be deadly during salvage.”

Wepfer also praised Gentry’s work ethic and said he passes that culture of working hard and earning one’s pay along to his crew.

Gentry looks for ways to better his company. That included seeing the potential of a crane barge when the company needed to cut a barge in half to salvage it, Wepfer said. That barge is currently in service and has the company’s biggest barge on it.

“He also sees potential in assisting and working alongside our other companies/locations and has a desire to see them grow and improve as well,” Wepfer said. “He makes everyone around him better, has an immense knowledge of the industry and has a heart of gold.”

Joseph Graham

Joseph Graham, 30, is the manager of linehaul vessel operations at Campbell Transportation Company in Houston, Pa.

In addition to running the daily operations of the company’s linehaul fleet, Graham is a licensed master of towing vessels, a certified emergency medical technician, a former lieutenant in the U.S. Navy Reserve, and was previously a volunteer firefighter in New York.

He got his start in the marine industry at SUNY Maritime in the Bronx, N.Y., graduating in May 2011 with a bachelor’s degree in marine operations. Upon graduation, he accepted a job with Kirby Inland Marine as a steersman. He rose through the on-board ranks, eventually becoming a captain in 2016, even driving the company’s first inland Z drive. In 2018, he was promoted to port captain, moving shoreside to the Baton Rouge office.

In October 2019, Graham accepted a job offer with Campbell Transportation.

“Joe is an extremely smart and driven man,” said John Cavins, port captain for Campbell Transportation Company. “He brings a lot of fresh perspectives to the industry. He has a lot of experience for his age and hit the ground running when he joined our CTC team. I truly believe that our company and the industry is better having a man like Joe here.”

Blake Grimmett

Blake Grimmett, 32, is vice president of barge line operations for Heartland Barge Management, LLC of Columbia, Ill.

Grimmett joined Heartland in January 2018 as grain management merchandiser. He had a strong trading background, spending three years at Lansing trade group, first, as a junior trader, trading agricultural products in the western Kansas truck markets, and then as a commodity trader, trading agricultural products in the Northeast cross-country markets.

Upon joining Heartland, Grimmett jumped in and learned about the inland marine industry, becoming a competent dispatcher and logistics planner while also perfecting his craft as a freight merchandiser of both grain and bulk commodities, said Timothy Delaney, Heartland Barge Management vice president.

“Blake’s understanding of the commodities market and the factors that influence them have brought a new dynamic to Heartland,” Delaney said.

Grimmett was promoted first to senior freight sales manager in May 2019, steering the company’s sales efforts through what Delaney described as challenging, volatile markets. He was promoted to vice president of barge line operations Jan. 1.

“We have full confidence in his ability to lead this division and are excited to afford him this opportunity,” Delaney said. “For these reasons and the bright future we see ahead for Blake, we choose to nominate him for the honor and recognition of 40 under 40.”