Founded in 1988 by Barbara Andrie and currently run by her son Stan, Andrie, Inc. provides diverse marine transportation services to the Great Lakes region. Headquartered in Muskegon, Michigan, the family-owned company operates its own equipment and manages vessels for others, supporting the shipping and commercial maritime industries on the Great Lakes.
Customer Service and a Can-Do-It Attitude
Honesty, customer focus, a can-do-it safety attitude, cooperation and quality. These are virtues the Andrie, Inc. team aims for every day. From shore side to wide open waters, from able seamen and mates to payroll clerks and chief engineers, the company has consistently reached for excellence and has been recognized by the industry for its achievements, including winning an Outstanding Safety Achievement Award from BP Shipping.
“We strive to be the benchmark in safety, effectiveness and customer service,” says Mike Caliendo, President of Andrie, Inc. “We’re proud of the legacy we’ve built over the past 30 years. We feel really good about the work we do and the work culture we have established.”
The 150-person company – many of whom are second and third generation in the marine industry – is comprised of two divisions: Andrie’s Marine Transportation Group offers transportation of a variety of cargo ranging from petroleum products to cement, in addition to providing vessel management service, lightering, icebreaking and towing. Andrie’s Specialized Marine Solutions Group charters equipment for the marine environment, including jack-up barges, tugboat and cranes.
Andrie currently operates 10 vessels, primarily tug/barge units half owned by the company and half managed by others. They continue to expand the fleet to provide additional service to new and existing customers.
“We operate cargo specific vessels primarily for single customers,” Caliendo says of Andrie’s services. “Our vessels transport products including liquid asphalt, cement, calcium chloride, diesel, gas and ethanol on the Great Lakes.”
Economy, Sustainability & the Importance of Great Lakes Shipping
“Shipping bulk materials on the Great Lakes is the most economical way of moving goods,” says Caliendo. “Shipping by water saves 3.6 billion in freight charges. Not to mention it’s the greenest: moving a ton of cargo uses less fuel per mile, creating fewer emissions. Plus, we take all that truck traffic off the roads. It’s safer, and literally saves the road. The fewer heavy trucks on the road means less road maintenance.”
Andrie supports a variety of industries on the Great Lakes including construction, paving (cement and asphalt) and bulk fuel (gasoline and diesel for commercial and private use).
By the Numbers
2.5 Million Tons of Cement Transported Per Year
1.5 Million Tons of Asphalt Shipped Per Year
3.0 Million Barrels of Gasoline and Diesel Transported Per Year
Safety is a part of Andrie’s DNA. It’s the cornerstone of the company’s philosophy and very clearly defined in their mission statement: “To empower our employees to serve our customers in a safe, cost effective and environmentally sound manner.”
“We have a very good safety record, but wanted to go further by implementing a behavior-based safety system,” says Caliendo. “We wanted to inspire our employees to work safely because it’s the right thing to do, not because you have to do it. For example, all employees have stop work authority. Meaning they can voice concerns regarding safety operations, submit near miss reports, etc. Before they may not have felt empowered to say or do something, but now we are to the point where everyone is comfortable to speak up and say, ‘Hey, this does not look right to me.’”
Andrie has twice in its corporate history finished a season with a Zero Incident Rate with no lost time accidents occurring on any of its nine owned and managed vessels (representing over 265,000 man hours total).
“Every meeting at Andrie starts with a safety moment,” Caliendo says. “This could be positive safety observations or something that needs to be changed. Instead of poring through safety manual that employees may or may not look at, we really strive for a culture change.”
How is Andrie keeping up with changing technology? The company has made major investments over the years including implementing software to reduce the amount of paperwork required from vessel crew. Going electronic, including accessing data in real time, allows for greater efficiency and safety.
“In terms of the navigation officers, from the captain to the mates, it could mean filling out paperwork all day instead of being totally focused on the operation of the vessel,” says Caliendo. “Same with the engineering staff. They have maintenance to do. If they get bogged down by paperwork, they have less time to maintain equipment. The technology results in a safer and more reliable work environment.”
The company has also installed computer-based fuel management systems, tracking fuel consumption and allowing crews to set engine speeds to the most optimal points – taking into consideration schedule and weather, allowing the captain to set the RPM in various modes to get most fuel economy.
Preparing for the Future
One big challenge Andrie faces is the availability of experienced crew. The impending “graying” of the mariner means a large portion of the workforce is within 10 years of retirement. As a result, there is an urgency in finding the next generation to make sailing a part of their career.
“It’s easy to get young people recruited, but the challenge is to get them to stay there longer to get the requisite experience,” Caliendo says. “To get to the master or chief level jobs. But the challenge is that this lifestyle is not for everyone, you’re removed from your community for months at a time,” he says. “And the work isn’t necessarily easy. You’re away from home and while you’re on board, there’s limited opportunity to do other things.”
But quality of life for the mariner is better today than it has ever been. “When I started my career in the mid 1970s, we were lucky to get a newspaper once a week and we had to find a pay phone at the dock,” says Caliendo. “Today, you are much more connected.”
Caliendo and fellow peers in the industry have also seen decreases in number of crew on board due to technological advances. This may, he says, help mitigate the challenge of retention.
“I think when it comes to ships, you’ll see autonomous technology first on the trans ocean ships and less on the shorter trips,” he says. “I think on the Great Lakes it’s more likely that we’ll retain the current crew level on vessels that sometimes go to two or three ports in a day, stops in and unloads for a few hours, and deals with lots of recreational traffic and tight maneuvering quarters.”