Case Studies

Prock Marine Company: Keeping Busy in the Industry

  • Written by: Prock Marine Company: Keeping Busy in the Industry
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Prock Marine Company (Prock Marine) is finding the marine construction industry to be a busy, but difficult working environment. The Maine-based company contracts with residential and commercial entities alike to construct marine docks, drive piling and complete dredging work.

Alton Prock initially founded the company as Alton A. Prock & Sons in 1938 with two barges. The business was incorporated by Alton’s four sons in 1963 and assumed its current designation. The small family-operated company has grown since its founding to now work throughout Maine, New Hampshire and Massachusetts.

Randy Prock, current president of Prock Marine, is one of Alton’s four grandsons now running the business. The company has become a popular name in New England’s marine industry as the go-to business for dock-related work. Many local and state government entities, including the U.S. Coast Guard, turn to Prock Marine for various projects. In addition to high-profile projects, the Rockland-Thomaston Area Chamber of Commerce has honored the company with the Waterfront Development & Enhancement Award plaque in both 1992 and 2008.

“We’ve been pretty fortunate,” says Randy. “We’ve stayed busy and we do whatever it takes to stay busy.” Randy believes Prock Marine has an edge over its competitors because of its size. As a mid-sized marine construction company, Prock Marine has built a solid reputation and receives many repeat customers and referrals to follow suit.

“It’s pretty competitive out there now,” adds Randy. “But a lot of times we don’t have to bid. We just get called and asked to do the work.” Owning the needed equipment to complete jobs is also a benefit that Prock Marine holds, enabling the company to offer competitive pricing.

Prime Location Along With Know-how

Prock Marine is located right on Maine’s rocky coast with a large marine terminal to store equipment. According to Randy, the company has an array of crew and tug boats, cranes, barges and heavy equipment for use in marine work. Having a coastal location allows the company easy access to the ocean; and therefore locations north and south along the shore for work.

“We do a little bit of everything when it comes to marine work,” says Randy, adding that spring tends to be the business’ busy season. “People like to have things done by summer.”

In Beverly, Mass., Prock Marine is currently working on a marina. “They needed float piling put in place,” says Randy. “There’s a lot of ledge there.” The company is capable of drilling into rocky ledge to anchor spindles and secure the work with a concrete grout mix.

Randy also conveys Prock Marine is involved in dredging projects in Portland and Camden. Another job the company is working to finish before summer is a bridge replacement out to North Haven. Randy explains the team’s previous work on the bridge project required tearing down of a small existing concrete bridge and replacing the infrastructure with more sturdy construction.

Even though the company has been in business for 75 years, Randy conveys the Prock Marine team stays up-to-date on the latest technologies and regulations. While new technologies have benefited the company’s bottom line, regulations have often hampered the business.

“The Department of Environmental Protection and state government keep coming up with new rules and regulations,” says Randy. “The newest one is that they put windows on the timeframe we can work.” Many of these regulations prohibit drilling and dredging during the late spring and summer months.

“The summer months can be slow,” he adds, “because not only do people want things done before then, but all the regulations don’t allow us to do the work.”

Another challenge Randy points out is the need for permits. For residential and commercial work, property owners need to receive local and state approval before work can move ahead. Randy estimates the permitting process can take up to a year in some cases.

“Years ago, you used to be able to pick up a job, order material and start within a month,” he says. “Now it’s hard to juggle the jobs and figure out the scheduling to keep people happy and get the jobs done on time.”

Preparing for the Next Generation

Five of Alton’s great-grandsons are already involved in the business, according to Randy. However, Randy and his cousins holding managerial roles made a move in 2012 to make the later transition to their own children a bit easier. “You wouldn’t believe how hard it is to turn a business over to the next generation,” says Randy.

Randy has been in the family business for 40 years now. He and his cousins bought the business from the second generation and slowly paid their father’s off. “This time we’re thinking ahead,” he says.

As of July 2012, the company became employee-owned. Establishing an Employee Stock Ownership Plan (ESOP) allows current employees to have ownership interest in Prock Marine, ensuring the team upholds sincere interest. Since the company is fully financed and now employee-owned, Randy believes the transition to the fourth generation will be much smoother that in the past.

He also sees the change in business to be a smart move in the company’s overall bottom line. “The second and third quarters of 2012 were rough for Prock Marine, but 2013 is already shaping up to be a record-breaking year for the company,” he says. “I see us growing and growing.”

With dedicated and trusted family continually involved in the company, Randy will be happy with handing over Prock Marine. In addition to family ownership – consisting of blood and non-blood relatives – and a strong customer base, Prock Marine Company is positioned to grow and maintain high stakes in the marine construction industry for generations to come.

Published on: May 15, 2013

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