Amherst Madison Acquires O-Kan Marine Repair

The Waterways Journal
28 March 2016
By David Murray

Amherst Madison Inc. announced March 23 that it has signed a definitive agreement to acquire the assets of O-Kan Marine Repair Inc.

Amherst Madison (originally founded as Madison Coal & Supply Company) is a family-operation that provides a wide variety of marine services, including towing services, terminal and marine construction, marine repair and equipment rental.  

The Hall family bought the O-Kan operation in the early 1980s; current president Chris Preston is married to the youngest Hall daughter.

The acquisition will double the capacity of Amherst’s existing shipyard and will create a full-service shipyard with four drydocks, machine shop, fabricating shop, mechanic shop, material re-handling and barge cleaning docks.

The two companies have long been neighbors. Amherst Madison’s facility at the mouth of the Kanawha River was about a mile upriver from O-Kan’s facility at Ohio River Mile 266. Preston told The Waterways Journal, “We’ve known each other for years. We never viewed them as our competitor; we were more like neighbors who helped each other out.”  

Robert McCoy, executive vice president and chief operating officer of Amherst Madison, said the word “synergy” applies here. “We have specialized mostly in vessel construction and repair, while O-Kan focuses more on barges and equipment,” he said.

Following the closing of the transaction, expected in “a few weeks” from the date of the announcement, the company will continue operations as Amherst Madison Marine Repair, according to McCoy.

McCoy told The Waterways Journal that all 23 O-Kan employees had been offered employment with the new company. Preston said taking care of the employees was a key consideration in the sale.

“Retaining the people was more important than the physical assets,” said McCoy. “Both companies share a strong reputation and common operating philosophy as well as expertise in both vessel and barge services.”