Kasey Eckstein, founder and executive director of Women in Maritime Operations (WIMOs), is a name that the inland maritime industry knows well, and now she has started a new company aimed at recruiting a diverse and qualified workforce for them.
Eckstein, who was also a former Marine Log Top Women in Maritime award winner, formed Eckstein Trade & Transport LLC (ET&T) this year after years of maritime employers reached out to her with requests for quality female candidates with marine experience.
Eckstein’s career in the marine industry began in 2014, when she started selling barge freight at Marquette Transportation. Marquette is a company that her grandfather, Ray Eckstein, founded and she realized that she was given many opportunities that other women in the industry were not.
In 2017, she founded WIMOs. WIMOs works to educate, engage and elevate women working for maritime operators, and just four years since its foundation, the organization is approaching 500 individual members (120+ member companies) across 22 states. She was the youngest director to ever sit on the board of the Mississippi Valley Trade & Transport Council and was a recipient of the Inland Marine Expo’s 40 Under 40 award in 2018.
Eckstein also worked in sales for Ingram Barge Company, which is the largest barge line in the United States.
Marine Log talked to Eckstein to learn more about this unique company.
Marine Log (ML): First, congrats on the new business! Can you tell us a little more about the company and why you decided to start it up for the maritime industry?
Kasey Eckstein (KE): Thank you Heather! I decided to start ET&T after years of employers reaching out to me asking if I knew women qualified for various positions. They were reaching out to me due to my involvement with WIMOs Association. I did the best I could to help these employers connect with women, but I was working a full-time job with no extra time.
Once I realized how many maritime companies were making the effort to hire more women, the obvious next step was to start a company that could offer these services full-time: Eckstein Trade & Transport (ET&T). Industry-wide employers are looking for quality female talent to fill roles that have traditionally been male-dominated (i.e. Dispatch, Logistics, Sales, Operations, etc.). The movement is already well in-motion, but now ET&T is here to help employers “Bridge The Gap” more efficiently.
ML: What makes ET&T unique when compared to other maritime recruitment and consulting companies?
KE: ET&T is woman-owned and specializes in female recruitment services, which is unlike any other Maritime Recruitment Agency that I know of. Due to our team’s experience in the industry and heavy involvement in various women in maritime networking groups, we have access to a very large, yet focused network of qualified women working in maritime.
ML: Why should maritime employers want a diverse workforce?
KE: Studies show that the younger generations (Millennial and Gen Z workers) highly value a company culture that aligns with their own values. Diversity is one of these values and it is essential that our industry adapts to the needs of today’s workforce in order to attract new talent to ensure the longevity of this great industry. We have been talking about the “aging workforce” for years and now it has finally aged. Fostering a culture of diversity and inclusion in your workplace will not only give your company a competitive edge when attracting key talent within the younger generations, but it also results in improved employee morale, performance and productivity which benefits the bottom line as well. Countless studies have been conducted and the results are conclusive: Companies with a diverse workforce are more profitable.
ML: In addition to owning and operating ET&T, you are the founder and Executive Director of WIMOs. What’s new at WIMOs and how can women get involved?
KE: WIMOs reached 600 members nationwide in September, so we are excited to announce that news! In 5-years the organization has grown into 26 states and our 600+ members are employed by 150+ different maritime companies. Other news is that Taylor Dickerson (Sr. Director – Project Management Office at Kirby Corp.) was just elected onto the WIMOs National Board as our new Executive Treasurer and we could not be more thrilled to add her talent to the board!
As part of Taylor’s new role, she will be overseeing our National Educational Programs, which is a huge responsibility as this is where a large majority of our funding goes. WIMOs is also in the process of starting up a full chapter with its own board in Corpus Christi, Texas. We have our first WIMOs Luncheon in Corpus on October 20, so if anyone is interested in getting involved please reach out on LinkedIn.