Growing the Ohio Fleet

Friday, September 24, 1999
Tom Moosbrugger and Steve Grantz share a common history as Ohio River boat men working in a variety of positions from deck to dispatch. In 1994, they used that experience, and an entrepreneurial spirit, to buy a small towboat fleeting firm in Evansville, Ind. a couple of hundred miles upriver from the Ohio's junction with the Mississippi at Cario, Ill. They operated the tow boats and a cleaning and repair yard as the newly formed Evansville Marine Services. "A couple of years later we purchased an operation at Yankeetown," says Steve, "And on January first of 1998, we purchased Owensboro Harbor Service." In the four years since that initial purchase, the company has grown from only nine to 54 employees. The fleet has also grown in size from three to ten boats, three drydocks and 12 cranes. They are doing shipyard and stevedoring work for a number of other companies and as customer demand is there, they do some longer haul barge-work. The core of the business remains in the company's several fleets along the lower Ohio River. As a result of purchasing their boats from a variety of sources, the partners have ended up with a mix of main and auxiliary engines from several manufacturers. They have also had opportunity to compare cost of operation and service support among the three majors. "We have decided to standardize with Cummins engines," says Steve, "Tom feels that by changing out our two-cycle engines to Cummins four-cycle engines we can pay for the new engines in three years of fuel savings. Even with other manufacturer's four- cycle engines we find that the after-market support from Cummins is faster and more affordable. We are now at about 75 percent Cummins and overtime we aim to be virtually 100 percent Cummins mains and auxiliary engines." All of Tom Moosbrugger and Steve Grantz' boats are in the 60 to 70-ft. range with beams from 20 to 24 ft. Most of these boats work well with a pair of Cummins 855 mains giving a total of 760 hp. A couple of the bigger boats will be repowered with Cummins KTA19 mains for a total push of 1,000 hp. It is true that headaches can grow with the company, but the partners at Evansville Marine have found that by standardizing to Cummins mains and Cummins Onan gen sets they gain interchangeable parts, less downtime, more profit and time to grow the company.
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