Acceptance Speech of Thomas B. Crowley, Jr.
Upon Receiving the Admiral of the Ocean Seas (AOTOS) Award
November 8, 2002
Thank you Secretary Mineta for that very kind introduction.
I am honored to be here tonight with so many distinguished past recipients of this award and with all of you. Thank you for coming not only to share this moment with Captain Brown and myself, but also to support the United Seamens Service and the community services they provide abroad for the U.S. Merchant Marine, the military and the seafarers of the world. Through their good work, the lives of these men and women are enhanced, even when they are thousands of miles from home.
First, I would like to recognize and thank some of the people who made this evening possible:
Honorary Chairman, President George W. Bush;
AOTOS Committee Chairman, John Bowers;
Dinner Chairman, Mike Sacco, and
National Committee Co-Chairmen, Captain Robert Hart and Samuel Nemirow.
Thank you Talmage Simpkins, Roger Korner, and distinguished members of the host and national committees.
I also would like to recognize my family that traveled all the way from CA to be with me tonight. My wife Christine, my mother, my step mother, and my cousins Jamie and Philip Bowles.
I will stop there because we might not get out of here until Sunday morning. All of the rest of the names are printed in the commemorative journal, which you all received. Thanks to all of you.
Ive always thought of this award as honoring a lifetime of achievement in the maritime industry. I think about the people who have received this honor before: Certainly my father back in 1988, Malcolm McLean in 1984 and many others
These are people who devoted much of their lives to this industry, were pioneers and accomplished some very amazing things. Toward the end of their long and distinguished careers, this very fine organization would put them in a tuxedo and recognize them for what theyve done.
I hope youre not trying to tell me something by giving me this award now. Please dont count me out quite yet. Ive got a ways to go. Our company is on the verge of some very exciting things.
Seriously though, I am honored and flattered by this recognition tonight. What our company has accomplished over the years would not have been possible without our thousands of dedicated Crowley employees around the world. Their commitment to excellence, record of accomplishment and loyalty to the company, allow me to stand before you tonight to accept this award. A bunch of them are here with us tonight. (I hope you are all still awake!)
I also share this honor with the many others who contribute to Crowleys success on a daily basis: — Labor, including: the SIU, AMO, MMP, MEBA,and IBU, whose members crew our US flag vessels, and the SIU, Teamsters, and ILA, who so capably provide us with superb stevedoring services.
They are all part of the Crowley team and we appreciate our partnership with them in building a strong company and dealing with the issues that our industry faces. By working together like this we have been able to pursue mutually beneficial business opportunities that otherwise would not have been possible. And by mutually beneficial, I mean we created jobs for our employees and made profits to reinvest in the business. For that, I salute all of you.
As far as Crowley Maritime is concerned, I dont have a crystal ball so I really dont know whats in store. What I do know is that we have built a lot more than just tugs, barges, ships and terminals over the years. We have built a culture within our company that is unmatched in the industry.
We start with making long term decisions with everything we do we are going to be around at least another 100 years.
Next we approach all of our relationships with high ethical standards. Whether it is with our customers, our vendors, our employees, or our competition. We are true to our word.
If the first two are not tough enough in this business, the next one sure is. That is profit. I do not know what it is about this industry, but we do a great job passing along cost savings to our customers and leave very little for reinvestment in the business. As challenging as that may be, our company is focusing its efforts in areas where we deliver true value to our customers and where we can earn profits. And then most importantly, we reinvest those profits back into our business.
I think that the real key to our business is providing value to our customer. If we are doing the same thing our competition is doing at the same cost or more, we are in big trouble. We must differentiate ourselves and prove to the customer they are getting more value using Crowley.
We have a team of people here with us tonight that prove this day in and day out. We run a tug and barge service once a week from NJ to San Juan Puerto Rico competing with a ships making the same run with shorter transit time. And we are very successful at it. How?
Fantastic customer service
The most efficient ro/ro terminals in the world
A pro active, customer focused sales team
Information technology that has stood the test of a dot com craze
This is not a ship, a tug or a barge issue, it is people. Our employees are dedicated, loyal, and committed. The company recognizes that and treats our employees with that same kind of loyalty and respect.
We spend a lot of time understanding our customers business and then building a system to support them. We look at quality, integrity, reliability, and we look at innovation.
We have 71 vessels and 8 terminals operating under ISM/ISO 9002
We will have our first location up on 14002 by the end of the year
We have zero tolerance for drugs and alcohol
Our goal is zero oil spills which we have achieved 3 yrs in a row
We operate the most advanced fleet of tugboats in the world
We have built 28 new vessels in the past 8 years – the latest of which are 4 of the most sophisticated Articulated Tug Barge units in the world.
So there you have the secret to our success. Its nothing unique and its certainly not very sexy. But we are succeeding.
As you might expect the AOTOS award has very special meaning to me since my father was recognized with this very same honor in 1988. In his acceptance speech, he referenced the decline of the US Merchant Marine.
Since that time the Maritime Security Program was passed and secured some tonnage that will stay US Flag in the international trades. I certainly hope that this program survives and we will do all we can to support the US Merchant Marine in the international trades.
If my father were here today though, he would be hitting us all with a baseball bat saying what the hell is happening to the Jones Act. There is no question now that the last chance for the survival for the US merchant marine is right here in our own backyard. . We must all work together to ensure that the Jones Act is preserved. I truly believe, and I was trained by one of the best, that this is the last chance for the US Merchant Marine.
In closing, let me again thank all of the men and women of the Crowley family, from Prudhoe Bay, Alaska to Sao Paulo, Brazil to the Sahklin Islands in the Russia Far East. They make the company successful and give me the opportunity to come here and accept this award.
Mr. Secretary, Mr. Chairman, members of the AOTOS Committee, and all of you here tonight thank you very, very much for this great honor.