USMI: 35 Years and Going Strong
Spanning 35 exciting years, USMI’s core values of Family, Integrity and Quality have served the firm and its military customers well. The next 35 promise to be just as compelling.
Little more than one month ago, on April 16, 2019, Gulfport, MS-based United States Marine Inc. (USMI) celebrated its 35th anniversary of continuous Department of Defense production, with hopes of many more years to come. According to CEO and President Barry Dreyfus, Jr., they’ll do just that by exceeding customer expectations by adhering to USMI’s core values of Family, Integrity and, of course, Quality. Over three and one-half decades, the firm has thrived, primarily by evolving into one of the nation’s premier military small craft builders.
The company originally built World Class racing sailboats. Over time, however, USMI became best known for the design and production of military, patrol and special warfare boats ranging in length from 21 to 90 feet, constructed of high performance composites and aluminum. A fully integrated manufacturer capable of designing, building and testing boats in house, USMI has supplied DOD craft uninterrupted for 35 years and counting.
35 Years of USMI … at a glance:
First Military Craft delivered
First Government Prime Contract (NSWRIB)
David Packard Excellence in Acquisition Award (NSWRIB)
100th NSWRIB delivered
David Packard Excellence in Acquisition Award (SOCR)
Move from New Orleans to Gulfport
Ribbon Cutting Gulfport
Visit by President Bush (1 year Katrina Anniversary)
Celebrated 25 Years
Largest FMS contract: ten 27M MKV-Patrol Boats
Last 27M MKV Patrol Boat delivered
First Outboard Motor Craft delivered
Celebrating 35 Years
Barry Dreyfus describes the nexus of USMI, saying, “My father started USMI over 35 years ago. He was a son of a sailor and had a love of the water, but most importantly had respect for it. Our boats were always Tommy tested tough, because everyone knows a sailor can break anything. USMI has always built craft we know are going into harm’s way; that is the rule of being on the water. A specification is one thing to follow, but real world experience needs to be a part of the building process, that is what is so special about USMI.”
Headquartered in Gulfport, MS, with a maintenance/repair facility in Chesapeake, VA, the Gulfport facility also has extensive dockage and capability for launching and retrieving boats. The facility connects to the Mississippi Sound providing riverine and littoral type environments, as well as varying water conditions for trials and training. The nearby, open waters of the Gulf of Mexico are used for blue water ocean testing.
Privately held with the majority of ownership held by current management, this corporate structure allows the decision-making process to be quick and decisive. To this end, USMI customer support teams are known as ‘Tiger Teams,’ comprised of USMI employees who are experts in their field. In short, USMI Logistics is available at any time to travel anywhere to assist customers in any way.
According to Dreyfus, USMI is uniquely positioned to provide specialty military craft. Through an ISO 9001:2015 Quality Management System, they continually work to improve a customer focused, management driven, prevention based Quality System. This is achieved using key metrics and processes that are measurable, visible and challenging. USMI’s ability to convert customer’s real world experiences to maritime solutions for the warfighter allows USMI to stay on the forefront of innovation. As MarineNews went to press, the firm had about 185 employees hard at work on these myriad missions.
Award Winning Product Line
USMI’s dominate focus is the production of sophisticated craft for the Department of Defense. Craft include the SOCR, 11MNSWRIB, MKV and 9M MERC, all of which are in-house USMI designs. The 9M MERC is the latest USMI boat in the small craft naval inventory and includes an outboard powered open and cabin boat that is lower cost for initial investment and maintenance. The 9M MERC is used primarily by Navy EOD forces, including Mobile Diving and Salvage Units to conduct underwater operations, harbor clearance and passenger transport.
USMI revenues reflect a robust maintenance capability. USMI also designs and manufactures non-standard fabrications to support customers’ unique needs. These components include sub-assemblies for larger platforms, mobile boat cradles, weapon foundations, specialty launch mechanisms and mobility components.
From simple to complex issues, USMI provides solutions to its customers. USMI is a two time winner of the David Packard award, presented by the United States Department of Defense, for excellence in acquisition. The first USMI David Packard award was for its contribution to Acquisition Reform by designing and building the NSW RIB which was fielded in an accelerated schedule and under the expected budget. The second USMI Packard Award was presented to USMI for a groundbreaking logistical support strategy initiated for SOCR program.
In total, USMI’s 35-year output includes 750+ craft, all built and delivered to date. The 11M NSWRIB comprises the largest percentage of those impressive totals, and USMI continues to build the 11M NSWRIB today, with the original award coming way back in 1996. To date, USMI has built over 270 craft for the US military and foreign navies. Some of these sales are highly classified, many emanating through the Foreign Military Sales (FMS) program, spanning dozens of nations.
On the Horizon
With 35 action packed years in the rearview mirror, MarineNews asked Dreyfus how USMI would prepare for what comes next. He quickly replied, “By being prepared. Who would have thought Katrina would destroy our facilities, and a year later President Bush would congratulate us on coming back stronger? Who would have thought we would have the customer loyalty that we enjoy today?
We did at USMI because we were prepared. We work hard to make sure we are here today, tomorrow, and in the future. We are financially sound to the point we have no debt at all. We pay close attention to the needs of our customers. A call from any of them is a call to action.”
Dreyfus went on to say, “The products we produce are so much more advanced than just 10 years ago, in the next 10 years we need to be prepared to adapt to discoveries yet to happen and the best way to apply them.” To that end, he said for emphasis, “Leaders need to prepare future leaders. That is by far the most important piece of preparation. USMI’s next generation of leadership is in place and leading innovative processes right now. Working together with them gives me confidence USMI will do well now and in the future.”
With that kind of attitude and determination, no doubt the next 35 years will involve change, evolution and the same kind of excitement that was the hallmark of the first 35. One thing, however, won’t change. Along the way, Dreyfus and his future leaders will pay close attention to the three core values that brought them here: Family, Integrity and Quality.
This article first appeared in the June 2019 print edition of MarineNews magazine.