Captained by industry leader Tony Landry, RUSH Marine sets sail, ushering in a “new era” for its longstanding parent company.
By Michael Candelaria
Out of high school in his native Louisiana, Tony Landry began his career in marine construction as a laborer, working on pipelines and in oil fields. During those years in the mid-1980s, he learned the fundamentals of the business through trial and error and from the tutelage of his father, who had his own basics in mind.
“I was always raised to treat people like you want to be treated,” Landry reflected. “My father always used to tell me, ‘Don’t ever forget where you came from. Be humble, be honest and be respectful.’” Landry went on to bigger things, moving from lonely fields to busy bridges and massive cruise terminals. Through it all, his construction work also included another component: building relationships. He never forgot principles learned much earlier about people, noting, “There are just things you follow day to day. . . . The big word is integrity.”
These days, Landry is back with family, in a matter of speaking. In December, he was announced as president of RUSH Marine, which was officially launched as a wholly owned subsidiary of RUSH Construction. Think waterside cruise terminals, cargo terminals, berthing facilities, bridges, marinas and more for public and private clients as well as governments and municipalities. It is believed to be the first heavy marine contractor with certain capabilities, experience and resources to be headquartered in Brevard, excluding satellite offices.
“There’s such a family feel within the organization,” he said. “It’s just a different environment.”
“My father always used to tell me, ‘Don’t ever forget where you came from. Be humble, be honest and be respectful.’” – Tony Landry
“Springboard to Launch”
For 34 years, RUSH Construction operated as a tight-knit general contractor — until its president seized opportunity. William Chivers and RUSH Construction worked side by side with Landry and his former employer for roughly 15 years on numerous marine projects, where Landry was an operations manager with a territory covering the eastern seaboard. Last summer, Landry hinted to Chivers about a career change. Chivers, strategically but in typically decisive fashion, went into action. Two months later, Landry was onboard as the new leader of RUSH Marine.
Notably, in November RUSH Construction added another wholly owned subsidiary, RUSH Facilities, a facilities division that enables RUSH to pursue opportunities in maintenance and repair at locations such as the Shuttle Landing Facility. Like the Marine division, while it represents a natural extension of the parent companies contracting expertise, it is nonetheless a new line of business.
“RUSH Construction is on the verge of rapid growth, and we’re a lot more diversified,” Chivers said. “Once these things really start to take hold, it will be a springboard to launch us into a new era.”
Chivers did not want to take the leap without Landry, whom he had watched and admired for years. As Chivers put it: “You won’t find many people who have his type of experience, knowledge, and expertise in this very specialized field of marine construction.”
Al Forbes, RUSH Construction’s executive vice president, agrees. “You can just tell when you’re in a meeting,” he commented. “You can see the connections, the trust that people have with Tony; it’s there. And it says something about his character.”
An initial win has already come, too. RUSH Marine recently signed a five-year continuing services contract with the Canaveral Port Authority, which provides a port presence for both new construction and structural repairs.
For his part, Landry watched RUSH for years. “It was very appealing,” he said. “Everybody had a very positive attitude. It didn’t matter what the issues were. The approach was, let’s just figure out what we need to do to move forward.”
Rolling Up Sleeves
The work will not be easy, all concede, although Chivers again leaves little doubt about his confidence. “We’ve found the right guy [in Landry]. And he knows the right players,” Chivers said.
Aside from his personable approach and a decidedly laidback demeanor, Landry is well credentialed — taking projects from design/estimating through all construction phases to final completion. He has worked closely with engineers, owners, staffers and subcontractors in scheduling, construction, safety, quality control, cost control and close-out. His resume also includes business development and marketing. The work has included design-build and design-bid-build projects totaling more than $500 million.
As a subcontractor on a RUSH project, for example, Landry was part of an 18-month effort to restore the Canaveral Locks East and West to operational condition. Approximately 396 new fiberglass/concrete composite marine pilings were installed to replace the existing piles. Fiber-reinforced structural plastic lumber fenders, whalers and supports were installed to augment the installed pilings. An access walkway with handrails, lighting, signage, warning lights and electrical services also were installed. All new member connections were stainless steel hardware, and all existing hardware was replaced with stainless steel. Approximately 600 existing creosote timber marine piles were removed to elevation or the approximate mud line.
Outside of working with RUSH, Landry’s largest project, at approximately $200 million, involved expansion of the 23-mile Chesapeake Bay Bridge–Tunnel.
In other words, Landry knows his stuff.
Landry will focus on both small and large projects “attached to waterways that are particularly challenging within our means and capabilities.” The challenge now, he added, is breaking through with that first big contract, which will complement the continuing services contract with the Canaveral Port Authority.
Both Landry and RUSH Construction are committed to the local market, but they will also be reaching up to the Jacksonville area, while continuing work in Central Florida. The target area will also include Tampa, where, coincidentally, the two parties first met on a runway lighting pier project so long ago.
Landry believes there are plenty of prospects across Brevard County. And, he affirmed, “We now have the expertise in house locally.”
RUSH has water on its horizon, and Landry has ambitious plans.
“It’s been many years since it’s been this fun to wake up in the morning and get into the office,” Landry concluded. “We’re a team, and it’s exciting.”
“RUSH Construction is on the verge of rapid growth, and we’re a lot more diversified. Once these things really start to take hold, it will be a springboard to launch us into a new era.” – William Chivers