Award-winning Andrie Inc. is the Midwest’s premiere marine transport and specialized marine solutions company. From its headquarters in Muskegon, Michigan, Andrie Inc. serves customers from local to international.
Barbara Andrie founded Andrie Inc. in 1988 on the values of honesty, a “can do it safely” attitude, cooperation, quality and a customer focus. The company, now under the leadership of President and CEO Stanley R. Andrie, has grown significantly since its inception. What began as a team of 23 employees with two tugs-barges, has now grown to a team of 150 employees and an extensive fleet of equipment to support its growing list of customers.
A major catalyst for Andrie’s growth occurred in 1995 when it was awarded the contract to manage the tug G.L. Ostrander and barge Integrity for Lafarge. The following year, Andrie was awarded a second contract to manage Inland Lakes Management’s fleet of five cement ships. This highly valued relationship was reinforced in 2006 when Andrie received another long-term contract with Lafarge to manage the tug Samuel De Champlain and barge Innovation.
In 2007, Andrie undertook its first new construction with the barge Endeavour, which was coupled with the tug Karen Andrie. In 2009, that unit went into service for BP, with which Andrie has had another long-term relationship.
By 2011, Andrie had been awarded management contracts by Occidental Chemical Corporation (2010) and U.S. Venture (2011). Much of the company’s success is attributable to the expertise and professionalism of its employees, who reinforce the company’s path of continuous improvement, bringing extensive industry expertise and innovative processes.
Jeff Musselman, project coordinator with Andrie Inc., explained, “We firmly believe, and we instill those values in everybody here, making sure everyone is on the same page. If we make decisions every day keeping those values in mind, then we will be successful.
“As Project Coordinator I am dedicated to continuous improvement initiatives so we don’t rest on our successes. We continue to try to improve the company, and we continue to try to add value for our customers. We encourage vessel personnel to do the same.”
The company’s marine transportation group provides efficient, reliable and safe transportation of cargo ranging from petroleum to cement, calcium chloride, equipment and specialty items. Its fleet of vessels and specialized double-hulled, heated barges are equipped to meet customers’ dynamic needs.
The company offers services beyond product transportation and vessel management including lightering – the transfer of cargo between different sizes of vessel – icebreaking, towing and equipment rental. Andrie also charters equipment for the marine environment including jack-up barges, tugboats, cranes, generators and light plants.
Its specialized equipment, paired with the extensive industry knowledge and expertise of its employees, is paramount to the delivery of superior performance. The length of service of many staff members speaks to Andrie’s strength as both an employer and a marine solutions provider.
“Two of our captains – who are still sailing with us today – were part of the original employees that started at this company,” Musselman said. “We feel that our experience and professionalism is what has helped to set us apart from our competition.”
Acknowledging the marine industry’s tendency to be behind the technology curve, Musselman explained how Andrie Inc. is making every effort to adopt and utilize available technology. This process has improved performance and further established the company at the forefront of the industry.
Andrie Inc. has incorporated an internet-based preventative maintenance program that sends automated alerts to notify fleet staff of required preventative maintenance tasks. Each task includes associated best practices and recommendations for optimal performance.
As Musselman explains, “This allows us to standardize maintenance tasks across our fleet and track preventative maintenance items in real time so we, here in the office, can see the same thing that they see on the vessels.”
Andrie Inc. is also proud of another software investment it has made that uses technology in a unique way. It sent employees to lean management courses at the University of Michigan and, upon their return, the company completed a study on its vessels to identify ways in which operational efficiency could be improved.
The team identified several inefficiencies related to the completion of paperwork and the data entry process which was repetitive, time-consuming and took staff’s focus away from more pertinent tasks and safety measures.
“It was creating safety concerns because crew members were spending too much time doing paperwork,” said Musselman. “We partnered with a software development firm here in West Michigan and were able to relay to them exactly what we needed. They developed a custom application that’s now running across our owned vessel fleet, which allows us to eliminate redundancy and input data in real time.”
Now, reports and business metrics can be automatically generated in real time, simplifying the data entry process. A cloud-based platform streamlines information from the vessel and gives both the fleet and the office access to information as long as the vessel is within internet range.
Musselman believes that the software has improved efficiency on the vessels. “It’s increased our real-time communication. It’s decreased all that inefficient data entry and all the unnecessary associated costs that go along with that. Switching to a cloud-based platform allows people constant access to whatever information they need – the most up to date information whenever they need it.”
Currently, this program has only been incorporated into Andrie-owned vessels but, over the next year or two, the company intends to roll out the software on managed vessels. The company is proud of the way the software has functioned and is impressed by what it has enabled the company to do from an analytical and a safety standpoint.
It has also adopted a safety program that it believes fosters a behavior-based safety culture across its operations. Paired with an open door policy and the free flow of information, Andrie’s culture of safety is present company-wide.
“Instead of the compliance-based safety where everyone is acting and performing their job safely because they are told to, or because it is written somewhere, we want our employees to get the job done safely because they want to and because it’s the right thing to do,” stated Musselman.
The company’s safety management system has enabled it to standardize manuals, operating procedure, and environmental management plans to beyond industry standards. As a member of the American Waterway Operators, Andrie participates in a third-party auditing system each year to get a true, unbiased sense of operational efficiency and company-wide adherence to safety.
Last year, Andrie adopted a program that requires office staff to sail on the vessels to observe vessel operations and identify successes, as well as opportunities for improvement. With a ninety-eight percent reliability rating over the last five years, there is no doubt that the company is seeing great returns on its initiatives.
“We want to continue to maintain and improve upon the culture that we have on all of our vessels. We are proud of the culture that we have instilled in everyone now, but there’s always room for improvement when it comes to safety. You can never be safe enough in this industry,” added Musselman.
BP Shipping chose the tug Karen Andrie and the barge Endeavour as the 2010 Ship of the Year (Partner Vessel category) for the company’s culture of health, safety, security and environment. Additionally, Andrie has received the American Maritime Safety Advisory Committee’s Responsible Vessel Carrier recognition, in addition to multiple other awards recognizing the company’s commitment to safety and exemplary performance.
With an emphasis on maintaining long-term relationships with clients and its commitment to continuous improvement, Andrie Inc. is poised for the future as it finds new, innovative ways to bring value to its customers. “We want to be innovative. We want to continue to grow and continue to establish ourselves as a leader in this industry,” stated Musselman.
As its original staff begins to retire, Andrie Inc., understanding the challenges associated with staffing, has placed a great emphasis on succession planning to ensure their experience is not lost. Succession planning has, “Made transitions through the generations easier; it’s made training easier. It continues to strengthen the company and allows us to grow into the future,” he added.
Though interest in marine careers has dwindled, Andrie Inc. has positioned itself as a highly sought after employer that offers competitive compensation and employment packages to attract the next generation of workers. “It’s one of the oldest industries in the world,” Musselman concluded. “We’re just trying to do it better and safer.”