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Floating Safely

Poseidon Barge keeps marine projects afloat with innovative solutions
Written by Olive Taylor
September 2020

Poseidon Barge keeps marine projects afloat with innovative solutions

By Olive Taylor


Poseidon Barge takes pride in offering some of the most versatile and innovative portable sectional marine barges in the industry. Since 1995, the U.S.-based company has been renting or selling sectional barges, hydraulic winches and hydraulic propulsion units to heavy highway construction contractors, bridge contractors, dredging contractors, marine contractors and diving contractors.


The business model of meeting customers’ needs with innovative solutions and personalized service has served Poseidon Barge well in good and bad times. Amid the COVID-19 pandemic, Poseidon expanded its manufacturing space and hired more team members.


The market demand for marine barges has not slowed in the U.S. or Canada. The only difference is that team members no longer meet face-to-face with customers.


“Before the pandemic, some of my Canadian customers said that they had never seen a barge salesperson in person,” said Scott Sprunger, a sales manager with Poseidon Barge who serves customers in the central U.S. and Canada. “That’s one of the Poseidon Barge differences – our salespeople go to the customers to build that personal connection. We can’t do that right now, but we’re keeping in touch.”


Even though Sprunger has been with the company for seven years, he is still considered the “new guy.” Some of the salespeople have been with Poseidon Barge for two decades. Sprunger attributes employee retention to strong leadership and quality products.



Poseidon Barge’s leadership

Donnie Fain founded Poseidon Barge in 1995. With Fain’s background in pile driving, he knew what the industry needed and developed the sectional barge that the company still offers.


For two decades, the company was headquartered in Fort Wayne, a city in northeastern Indiana. In the early years, small-scale fabrication operations took place in Berne, Ind. Growth fuelled change and fabrication operations expanded in Berne. The management team decided that it made good business sense to relocate headquarters to Berne to be closer to manufacturing operations and moved offices in 2018.


A 38,000-square-foot addition is currently underway, which will bring the total manufacturing space to more than 100,000 square feet. Poseidon Barge has distribution depots out of Plain, Wis.; St. Louis, Mo.; New Orleans, La.; Cocoa, Fla.; Wilmington, N.C.; and Coeymans, N.Y.


The company is led by Donnie Fain, CEO and owner, and Mary Habegger-Fox, president and owner. Sprunger describes both leaders as “two visionaries.” They make solid business decisions, such as protecting the products’ intellectual property with patents, and they’re always looking for ways to be more efficient.


For instance, Poseidon Barge used to send out barges for painting, but in 2018, Fain and Habegger-Fox decided to bring that process in-house. A steel-grit blasting booth and a large liquid paint booth were installed as part of the operation. Bringing these operations in-house allowed Poseidon to shorten lead times and control cost and quality.


They also listen to their employees and welcome new ideas. “They both have open-door policies. Mary [Habegger-Fox] often stops by my door to say good morning and check in. They are so supportive of new ideas or methods that can make things better,” said Sprunger.


Poseidon Barge has an in-house naval architect/engineer who focuses on improving design and works with customers to analyze how the barges will react based on the information clients provide. Recommendations from an in-house naval architect is not something that all sectional barge manufacturers offer. Poseidon Barge’s Basic Stability Analysis includes detailed reports about how the imparted trim and heel angles affect the platforms’ buoyancy and stability.


As other companies struggled due to the economic downturn caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, Poseidon Barge expanded its team by hiring 40 employees, bringing the total number of staff to 150.


Poseidon Barge is also in the process of obtaining ISO 9001:2015. The ISO 9001 series demonstrates that a company has quality assurance processes in place and continually monitors operations to find ways to improve processes. “We pride ourselves on being leaders in the industry and quality assurance is essential. The certification is a formal step to recognize the quality assurance processes we already have in place,” said Sprunger.



Poseidon sectional barges

What sets Poseidon Barge apart from its competitors? The sectional barges are easily transported by truck – the five-foot model can transport two units in one truck – which is ideal for projects on inland lakes and rivers. Most of Poseidon Barge’s distribution depots stock barges that can be hauled on step deck trailers, saving customers time and money.


The versatile barge sections can be used for work platforms, transport platforms or material platforms. The sectional barges come in different hull sizes, ranging from four-feet, five-feet, seven-feet to 10-feet tall.


The 40-foot by 10-foot by 5-foot Poseidon P1 Sectional Barge, the original design and one of the most popular models, comes with a connection system whereby hairpin connections are dropped into position. The P1 can support up to 35,000 pounds.


Poseidon’s P2 and P3 models are compatible with other sectional barges in the industry. “It’s Poseidon Barge’s innovation and quality, tailored to be used in conjunction with barges of a different manufacturer that customers already have in their fleet,” Sprunger said.


Poseidon also designs and builds custom sectional barges. Customers can provide the Poseidon team with the details of their need and a customized product will be developed.


All Poseidon barges share some common features. For example, all barges are built with patented roll form deck material, which has four times the strength of a standard quarter-foot deck plate. Each barge section is built to last with a quality finish and zinc anodes installed on the exterior for extra corrosion protection. Poseidon Barge also coats the internal void in each barge section with a vegetable-based, environmentally friendly rust inhibitor.



Working with customers

Whether customers rent or purchase barges, they will receive personalized solutions. “The customer provides us information relating to equipment size and weight, and how it will be used. We analyze that information and then make recommendations,” said Sprunger.


The team assists clients with determining the number and type of barges needed for a project, arranging the transportation of the barges and providing support during set up of the worksite. One of the value-added services Poseidon offers is engineering support so the job gets done safely and efficiently. “We provide a basic stability analysis during the initial planning stages of a project to assist the customer in making sound, safe decisions for their activities on the barge,” said Sprunger.


For rentals, Poseidon provides detailed guidelines about how to install and take down the barges without damaging the equipment. Support is available at every stage of the project. When equipment is returned to the yard, technicians perform inspections to ensure the customer power washed the barges sufficiently to prevent the spread of invasive species. If the barges do not meet Poseidon Barge’s standards, they are rewashed so the next customer does not introduce any invasive species into a lake or river.


The barriers caused by the COVID-19 pandemic have challenged Sprunger’s tried-and-true methods for servicing his Canadian customers, but he has found new ways to provide customers with the same level of service they have come to expect. “I will continue to work with the fine companies in the Canadian construction sector to supply their barge needs, but unfortunately it will be from afar for now,” he said.


When it is safe to cross the U.S.-Canada border, Sprunger will pay his Canadian customers a long-overdue visit. “When it comes to Poseidon Barge, there’s an incredible sense of loyalty from the Canadian construction industry. I believe that is a direct result of our quality and service, which the customers recognize the value. It’s a pleasure to continue to serve them,” he said.




Category: Profile

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Piling Canada is the premier national voice for the Canadian deep foundation construction industry. Each issue is dedicated to providing readers with current and informative editorial, including project updates, company profiles, technological advancements, safety news, environmental information, HR advice, pertinent legal issues and more.

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