Following the recent divestiture of its Bayou La Batre, Ala., shipyard, Louisiana-based boat builder Metal Shark is expanding its presence in its home state with the addition of a third manufacturing facility. The new 40,000 square facility is located in Iberia Parish, adjacent to Tabasco’s headquarters on Avery Island. Together with Metal Shark’s nearby Jeanerette and Franklin production facilities, the company now boasts nearly 200,000 square feet of enclosed manufacturing space in Louisisiana, spread across 35 acres and employing nearly 400 people.
“Last year, Birdon America, Inc. approached Metal Shark about acquiring our Alabama operations,” said Metal Shark CEO Chris Allard. “They put forth an offer that made good business sense for us while providing long-term opportunities for our Alabama team members. With the sale of our refit and repair business and steel boat building operations now concluded, we are refocusing our energies and doubling down on our core business: the design and construction of durable, high performance, manned and autonomous welded aluminum vessels.”
“As a diversified builder, at any given time we’re producing boats for customers across a range of markets including U.S. and foreign military forces, state and local law enforcement agencies and fire departments, and numerous commercial markets including pilot groups, passenger vessel operators, and the offshore wind industry,” Allard continued. “Our new Avery Island facility will reduce lead times for vessels that lie outside our mainstream production mix, with an experienced crew of boat building professionals specializing in custom rigging and production efficiency.”
To support its robust backlog, Metal Shark has been aggressively recruiting to expand its workforce across all of its Louisiana facilities. The company is currently hiring for all production trades, and is also recruiting naval architects, project coordinators and project engineers. In addition to its efforts aimed at local recruitment, Metal Shark is now offering relocation assistance for qualified welders interesting in finding a home in Louisiana.
“Louisiana is steeped in boat building tradition, it’s the home of some of our nation’s best boat builders, and we will continue to invest in our people and facilities here,” said Allard. “We’re now working to recruit additional skilled workers to our state, where they can earn competitive wages for their talents while enjoying our food, culture, outdoor recreational opportunities, climate, and overall lifestyle.”
While Metal Shark continues to expand in Louisiana, it has not vacated Alabama entirely, retaining a portion of its Alabama waterfront to support ongoing training, trials, and autonomous testing.