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Tropical Shipping now a Saltchuk business unit

Written by Nick Blenkey
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Tropical Shipping employees celebrated the closing of the sale of the 51-year old company and its subsidiaries to Seattle-based transportation and distribution company Saltchuk Resources

SEPTEMBER 19, 2014 — Steel drums and a traditional Bahamian Junkanoo dance troop entertained a crowd of more than 325 Tropical Shipping employees as they celebrated the 51-year old company and its subsidiaries officially joining the Saltchuk family of companies (see earlier story).

The sale was finalized September 2 and three gatherings were held last week in Palm Beach and Miami, bringing together more than 550 of the company’s 1,000 employees.

“It was important that this be about our employees. It was an opportunity for them to meet our new owners and to celebrate this next chapter in our company’s story,” said Mark Chapman, Tropical’s Vice President of Organizational Support .

Tropical Shipping CEO Rick Murrell, who has been with the company more than 40 years, shared enthusiasm for the transaction that brought Tropical and Saltchuk together.

“We have known about the Saltchuk organization for many years and have always believed we would make a great team. Now it is a reality,” wrote Mr. Murrell in an email to employees. “I believe this is a historical moment for Tropical Shipping. Furthermore, I can’t express enough gratitude to the AGL leadership and organization for their stewardship and thoughtfulness in positioning Tropical and its employees for a long and successful future.”

Saltchuk, a family of nationally recognized transportation and distribution companies, welcomed Tropical as its sixth business unit. Tropical, along with its sister companies TOTE, Foss, North Star Petroleum, Northern Aviation Services and Interstate Distributor, brings Saltchuk’s portfolio to nearly $3 billion in annual sales and more than 7,500 employees nationwide.

Denise Tabbutt, one of the three sisters who are primary shareholders of Saltchuk welcomed employees. “My sisters and I are so proud to welcome you to the Saltchuk family. I have never met more enthusiastic and happy people. You are an inspiration to us,” she said. “Thank you for everything you do to make Tropical such an amazing company.”

While the ownership transition is a significant event, the company doesn’t expect any change in day-to-day operations of the Caribbean Shipping Line.

“Today we celebrate, and tomorrow it’s business as usual,” said Mr. Murrell. “We will continue to serve our customers with the best service possible and will begin planning for a future supported by a parent company which brings a broader scope of opportunity to serve our customers. We are excited to learn from our sister companies who are implementing LNG (liquefied natural gas) as a transportation fuel. We believe there’s great things ahead for Tropical.”

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Tropical CEO Rick Murrell presents a scale model of the company’s flagship, the Tropic Unity, to Saltchuk primary shareholders Nicole Engle and Denise Tabbutt, Saltchuk Chairman Mark Tabbutt and President Tim Engle (not pictured).

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