A Brief History of HLC (Offshore Unit)
While working for an oil and gas service company in the Gulf Coast oil fields, Huey L. Cheramie was approached by his brother-in-law, a seasoned mariner, to invest in a new business venture. Together, Huey and Clarence Gisclair purchased their first tugboat—a 58-foot model-bow—to move barges for a major oil company from the Gulf to and from Venice and Fourchon, Louisiana. This purchase would plant the two men squarely in the marine transportation business—an industry Huey was originally reluctant to enter.
Huey continued his oil and gas service work for a few more years, content to let Gisclair make the day-to-day business decisions. In 1970, however, Huey purchased the company from his brother-in-law and began operating the tugboat full time. He called his company Huey L. Cheramie, Inc., or HLC, as it was known to his clients. Within a year Huey purchased a second tugboat. Then, the oil boom hit and a once-single tugboat company began to flourish.
Huey J. Cheramie, son of Huey L., joined HLC in late 1973. He started his career as a deckhand during summer breaks during high school and college then quickly worked his way up to captain. Early on, Huey J. demonstrated a passion for the industry and a vision for aggressive business growth. The strength of father and son working side by side set the pace for rapid expansion and diversification over the next several years.
Huey J. was named president and CEO of the company in 1981, a decade that brought a volatile climate to the energy industry. The oil crunch also levied challenging times for the maritime service industry but Huey J. was determined to ride out the storm. Sadly, in 1987, Huey L. Cheramie passed away after a brief illness at the age of 58.
The 1990s brought sunnier economic climes to the marine services industry and HLC continued to expand both its fleet and its geographic range of service while still maintaining a strong presence in the Gulf of Mexico. Broadening its operations across the Eastern Seaboard and into Mexico, the Caribbean, West Indies, and Central and South America presented HLC with abundant opportunity and additional markets, and created a new chapter in the company’s future.
In 2007, HLC joined forces with Marquette Transportation and became the company’s Offshore unit. With a fleet of 20 offshore and inland tugs, Marquette’s Offshore unit employs more than 125 and provides ocean towing, dredging, project cargo and oilfield services.