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Companies In Southern Region Of U.S. Adjust Product, Market Focus To Remain Competitive

Marine industries situated in the south U.S. are indicative of the maritime business in other regions of the country: buoyed by niche markets— the casino gaming vessel market a prime example—and making strides towards providing an economical, internationally viable product and service to burgeoning commercial markets in the face of declining Navy markets. The following is an update on the activities of a few manufacturers.

Cospolich Refrigerator Co., founded in 1937, has long been a leading manufacturer of stainless steel marine refrigerators, freezers, combination units, undercounters and other related marine equipment. Cospolich counted on the U.S. government, as did many other manufacturers of marine equipment, as a prime market for many years. But in the face of a changing market, the company realized it must adjust to prosper, and adjust it did.

After 10 years in development, Cospolich launched its modular unit line: a refrigeration line designed to meet the needs of naval and commercial new construction, as well as keep replacement costs down in the repair market. The units, which can be disassembled with the use of a common ship's tools and by ship's personnel, can be installed without modifications to bulkheads or hatchways. A company which has taken advantage of the booming gaming vessel market is Insulations, Inc., an insulation and interior finish contractor. The company recently finished work on the Leevac Shipyardsbuilt Players II riverboat casino, a vessel which was designed by Rodney E. Lay & Associates; interiors are by Directions in Design, Inc.

Insulations Inc. was chosen by Leevac Shipyards to be the major specialty contractor for the vessel, and the company was involved in the installation of fire boundary, thermal, acoustical, mechanical system, engine exhaust and boiler stack insulations and interior finishes. The scope of the work performed by Insulations, Inc. included installation of joiners and sheathing for bulkheads and overheads, all windows and doors, interior and exterior (except watertight), and much more.

Another company which sees the potential in the gaming vessel market is Bohnet & Assoc., one of the area's fastest growing equipment and fabrication suppliers. Bohnet, with 23 years of experience in the marine market, offers a wide array of products including: Walter Machine keel coolers and gear drives; Red Fox Environmental sewage treatment and trash compactors; Olympic Foundry marine castings in bronze, aluminum and stainless; Nordic Machine deck equipment, anchor winches/windlasses; Mar- Quipt cranes, davits and boarding equipment; Eacco Marine windows, doors and seating; L.S. Baier cast aluminum and steel manholes and hatches; as well as a host of custom fabrication capabilities.

The Yards Mention of the southern Marine Industries would be remiss without a look at some of the vessel builders which have helped to keep the area thriving. As coverage of every Southern yard is not possible within the confines of one article, please see the U.S. New Construction Update (starting on page 76) for complete information on business in yards throughout the country.

The Trinity Marine Group (TMG) is comprised of 13 shipyards, together reportedly representing the largest shipbuilding capacity for small- to medium-size ship construction in the world. TMG is able to diversify its capabilities and tap a variety of markets, and the company builds commercial, military and pleasure vessels in steel, aluminum and composites. TMG also designs and builds a wide variety of barges, including double hull barges. Trinity shipyards, which have delivered more than 14,000 vessels, reportedly lead the U.S. in cycloidal propulsion vessels as well as diesel-electric vessels. Two of the company's designs are in the finals in the U.S. Navy's Mark V high-speed patrol boat.

Bender Shipbuilding & Repair Co. has grown to be one of the world-leading builders of mid-size steel and aluminum vessels. Bender builds a wide range of vessels, from tugs to riverboat casinos, and also offers topside and drydock repair. Bender was one of the first area shipyards to supply vessels to the riverboat casino market, and less than eight months after opening its Louisiana yard, Bender delivered the first riverboat casino to operate in Louisiana, the Star Casino.

Atlantic Marine-Mobile, Inc. specializes in major vessel repairs, conversions, retrofits, overhauls and regular drydocking for the commercial shipping industry. The yard is situated on the 45-foot deep Mobile River channel, with direct access to the Gulf of Mexico, and offers a 250,000-dwt and a 40,000-dwt dry dock, plus 5,000 feet of full-service quay space. Certified to ISO 9002 standards, Atlantic Marine's primary markets consist of tankers and bulkers trading in the U.S. Gulf, Caribbean and East Coast.

For more information on the companies in this story, circle the corresponding number on the Reader Service Card.

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