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 Matt Lewis, Travis London and James Myrick.
Matt Lewis, 39, is vice president of operations for Genesis Marine in Houston, Texas.
He has a Bachelor of Science degree from Texas Tech University and a Master of Business Administration from Houston Baptist University.
Lewis worked his way up the ladder from a dispatcher at Kirby Corporation to manager of the company’s Pacific group in its offshore division before being hired as Genesis’ vice president of operations. Additionally, he has been recognized by his peers by being part of the River Industry Executive Task Force. He is married to Megan and is the father of three daughters.
Although those achievements are all notable, Jim Farley, president of Larkspur Consulting LLC, says Lewis has other talents as well.
“Matt has that most critical capacity for success in our business,” Farley said. “Through hard work, communication skills and willingness to do the right thing, he has earned the respect of the most important of marine management constituencies: the mariners he is responsible for. His unswerving focus on safety, flawless execution and caring for the people in his chain of command make him one of those always welcome in the galleys of the Genesis fleet and in the offices of the vetting groups of his customers.”
Farley called Lewis representative of the best of the next generation of people who will run the barge business.
“He knows what needs to be done and will lead those that he is specifically responsible for and take an active role in representing our industry with the wide public constituency we serve,” Farley said, adding that in his 45 years in the marine industry, he has had the opportunity to work with several outstanding young executives, but none better than Lewis exemplify the attributes and capabilities recognized with the 40 Under 40 award.
Travis London, 39, is operations manager and leader of Economy Boat Store’s Memphis, Tenn., facility.
He recalls waking up at 4:30 a.m. on the first day of summer break in 1996 to his father telling him, “Go to work.” London’s father, Steve, worked at the Memphis location of the Economy Boat Store, and the then-15-year-old spent the summer painting barges, working in the supply warehouse and helping in the grocery department. That one summer turned into two, then four, and soon he was helping in the office, working on the fuel flats and operating the crew boats.
In 2018, London earned the opportunity to lead the Memphis location from a position he had admired for more than 20 years. He became the youngest operations manager in the company at the age of 37.
In addition to his work experience, London has a Bachelor of Science degree in agricultural business from Arkansas State University, earned while continuing to work at Economy Boat Store. He also holds credentials as a merchant mariner, Tankerman PIC and master of self-propelled vessels.
“It was serving in those early jobs that shaped his ability to lead,” said David Reynolds, vice president of Pilot Thomas Logistics and managing director of Economy Boat Store.
London now remembers those days fondly, saying that although he only made $4.25 an hour that first summer, he had more money than any other young teen he knew.
“Travis is an extremely hard worker and takes a hands-on approach to managing our Memphis operation,” Reynolds said. “Our team feeds off his passion, and he inherently leads by example. Travis has served in virtually every role at the Memphis location, and it was his command of the operation and earned respect of the Economy Boat Store team that positioned him so well for the leadership role.”
William Kay, managing member of Kagency LLC for Economy Boat Store, noted that London has the ability to get the right team members into roles where they can succeed.
“Travis has flourished as the leader and drives both accountability and professionalism among his team,” Kay said. “Travis holds himself to a high standard and operates with the utmost integrity. He has an unwavering moral compass and makes decisions based on the best interests of our team members, customers and the greater maritime industry.
Travis’ ability to slide into the new leadership role with relative ease and command the respect of his team is a testament to him as an individual. We are grateful to have Travis London on our team and honored to have him leading our Memphis operation.”
James Myrick, 39, is manager of Wepfer Marine Inc.’s Osceola fleet, based in Memphis, Tenn.
Myrick started with Wepfer Marine more than 15 years ago as a deckhand. He rose through the ranks to become a pilot and has managed the Osceola fleet for more than five years.
Recently, Wepfer doubled the capacity of Myrick’s fleet when the company took on new business, said Walt Wepfer, senior vice president of corporate operations.
“He took the increase in stride and made many adjustments to handle the new customers, new service requirements and new employees,” Wepfer said. “He is tenacious and always looking for something to do.”
Wepfer praised Myrick, saying he is more than willing to jump on a boat and assist as needed and that he knows everything going on in his harbor.
“He stays on top of his crews to complete their maintenance items, and his fleet has some of our best maintained boats,” Wepfer said, adding, “He has also been a part of a switch to having the boat pilots create moves on TowWorks, and he learned everything about the system so that he could assist his crews in their learning.”
That switch was a success, Wepfer said, and Myrick continues to move faster than the pace the company anticipates. He also looks ahead, Wepfer said, building and installing new deadmen that will better hold during sustained high water, and he cares greatly for his employees.