On The Move

Industry Veteran Jim Fletcher Retires, Team Services Remains A ‘Family-Run Business’

Jim Fletcher, a longtime leader in the maritime industry and founder of Baton Rouge, La.-based Team Services LLC, retired from his full-time role with the company at the end of July.

“It has been an honor and a privilege to serve our industry for the past 48 years and, most especially, over the past 14 years as president and CEO of Team Services LLC,” Fletcher said. “Effective July 31, I have transferred all membership interest of my company to my two sons-in-law, who have worked at Team Services for several years, and my daughters.”

Now leading the company are Brian Richard, who serves as chief financial officer, and Derek Freeman, who serves as chief operations officer. Richard and Freeman, along with their wives, Vanessa Fletcher Richard and Katie Fletcher Freeman, now also serve on a newly formed Team Services board of directors, with Fletcher also on the board.

“This transition fulfills a commitment I made to our employees years ago ‘to maintain Team Services as a family-run business for the long term,’” Fletcher said. “Although I will no longer oversee day-to-day operations, I will continue to serve as Team’s board chairman with a focus on Team culture and industry advocacy, and I will participate in evaluating future growth opportunities for our company.”

Richard joined the company in 2010 after previously working in finance. Early in his time with Team Services, Richard worked in logistics. Later, building on his background in finance, Richard became a certified public accountant (CPA), which led him to the CFO role with Team Services.

In 2014, Fletcher said, Team Services was looking for a new safety officer and, with a background in shipbuilding and as a reliability engineer for a refinery, Freeman proved to be the perfect fit, but out of need, quickly transitioned back to an operational role. From 2015 to 2017, Freeman led Team Services’ venture into crude-to-rail terminal operations at a facility in North Dakota. When the terminal closed due to crude prices crashing, Freeman and his family moved back to Baton Rouge, and he became director of operations for the company.

As the years went by, Fletcher said he would often be asked what was next for the company.

“Employees need to know that you’re going to be there for them. I told them TS would always be a family business and at some point, I would need to pass it along.”

Over the past couple years, Fletcher said he was able to step back and focus on coaching Richard and Freeman. When COVID restrictions were put in place in March 2020, his sons-in-law were able to adjust operationally to the many challenges and fully stepped into their leadership roles.

“They executed on plans that I didn’t have to envision or imagine. Using and adjusting existing business continuity plans and through employee engagement, a sound MOC was developed and executed. They did an excellent job with all of that.”

Whether it was leading the effort to have staff working from their homes or training and onboarding virtually, the prime objective for members of Team Services remained the same, Freeman said.

“Gathering virtually, communicating and staying focused on the end goal, which was continuing to meet our mission and vision, we made it work despite the fact that everything around us was changing,” Freeman said.

That mission and vision has been centered on the concept of “team,” Fletcher said. Drawing on his experience in the maritime industry, Fletcher said, from the start, he wanted Team Services to exude the collaboration and togetherness captured in the word “team.”

“The whole company is based on the team philosophy, so there’s a lot of gathering, checking in and engaging employees,” Fletcher said. “Employees buy in is the key to our success and teamwork is the foundation of our mission statement.”

Richard said that focus on company culture will remain a high priority, even as Team Services moves into its second generation of family leadership.

“That’s something we want to continue,” Richard said. “Jim formed a solid foundation here at Team Services. He’s taught us the importance of valuing and serving our internal and external customers. We will carry that forward as we evolve over time.”

Today, Team Services provides product handling and facility operations across the Gulf Intracoastal Waterway and the Mississippi River. The company has a team of about 130 employees and operates both liquid and dry bulk terminals. About 90 percent of the cargo Team Services handles is with shore tankermen working over the water, with dock operations, truck and rail accounting for about 10 percent of cargo. Team Services has regional offices in Mobile, Ala.; Orange, Texas; Houston and Corpus Christi, Texas, overseeing operations down to Brownsville.

In addition to his role as chairman of the board of directors for Team Services, Fletcher said he will continue serving as a board member for The American Waterways Operators (AWO) representing the Ohio River Valley region and as chairman of AWO’s Tankering and Barge Operations Subcommittee. He also looks forward to spending more time with his nine grandchildren, traveling with his wife, Yvonne, and splitting time between the farm in Mississippi and his boat in Venice, La.

Besides coaching up his sons-in-law to lead Team Services into the future, Fletcher also challenged them to also savor every day.

“Guys, it happens quick,” Fletcher said. “This life goes by so fast.”