As a female CEO in a male-dominated industry, Christina Couvillion had her hands full when she founded Covington, La.-based Quality First Marine in 2005. Since then, she has taken the company to new heights as it’s grown from a single vessel to a larger Gulf Coast marine construction and transportation company.
We wanted to learn more about this company and its founder, so we decided to go directly to the source and get the scoop from Couvillion herself.
Marine Log (ML): First, how did you become involved in the maritime industry and what has it been like being a high-ranking woman in the industry?
Christina Couvillion (CC): As a daughter to a decorated naval officer, it became apparent that destiny willed itself that I would later find myself owning and running a maritime company. I started in the industry with my then partner as a marine transportation and logistics company during the BP oil spill.
We continued diversifying our services with him running marine services, while I ran our maritime contracting side of the business. I don’t put too much emphasis on myself as “a high-ranking woman in the industry,” but rather I consider myself as a female who knows that I can provide value and insight to the maritime industry. There are always many biases to overcome, whether it is internal or external. However, I consider myself very fortunate to have worked with and alongside many incredibly supportive individuals and industry leaders.
ML: Have there been talks in diversifying your offerings by getting into offshore wind?
CC: Currently, Quality First Marine is putting all of our focus on coastal projects. However, the industry is constantly changing and innovating, and I believe it is good business to keep our options open and not to rule anything out with the right team and partners.
ML: Do you have any interesting projects going on that you can share with us?
CC: Absolutely, my team and I are currently working on a flood mitigation project restoring wetlands in Lafourche Parish. The goal of this carbon-offset project is to compensate for the emission of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere as a result of industrial farming, intended for mitigating flooding.
Quality First Marine also just had the pleasure of taking the lead on the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ Risk Reduction Project in St. Charles and St. John the Baptist Parish. We were the lead contractor to clear approximately 19 miles of the West Shore of Lake Pontchartrain to minimize hurricane storm damage.
ML: When you started, you had one vessel. How many do you have now and what’s the makeup in terms of vessel size?
CC: Quality First Marine has grown and undergone many changes over the last five years since becoming a 100% woman-owned and operated business. We’ve grown from one to seven vessels, ranging from 600 to 2,000 horsepower including crew boats, tugboats, and construction equipment. We hope to continue adding to our fleet. Additionally, we have added an environmentally efficient 855 Hybrid Sennebogan material handler on a barge.
ML: You’re really a one-stop marine company when looking at all that you provide. What are the segments that keep you busiest at the moment and why?
CC: I believe it is, because we grew from humble beginnings. My team has over 65 years of experience, our clients know the quality we provide, and they know they will receive 100% of our attention to their project. We’ve had to become quite proficient, learn from mistakes to become the efficient, innovative and resourceful as the company that we are today.
Coastal restorative work, particularly living shorelines mitigation projects and infrastructure projects, keep us the busiest at the moment. These types of projects are becoming more and more crucial to the environmental impact and protection of our coastlands. We are fully invested in industry commitment to reduction of emissions!