The National Achievement Award is the highest honor presented by the National Rivers Hall of Fame to those people who are making significant contributions to America’s waterways. The National Rivers Hall of Fame with members in 36 states is the only national museum telling the stories of the people of America’s rivers.
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Honored in 2016
Founded in 1933, Canal Barge Company Inc. has grown exponentially from its early days of operating a single barge along the Gulf Intracoastal Waterway, maturing as an integral partner in the New Orleans business base. The company owns and operates a fleet of more than 800 barges that transport valuable liquid, dry and deck cargoes up and down the river to destinations in North America, Central and South America, the Caribbean, and even across the Atlantic Ocean.
Merritt Lane III, President and CEO of Canal Barge Company since 1994, believes that strong, family-like relationships feed both company and industry success. “Solid relationships within the industry exemplify the best in teamwork,” he says. Lane has spent much of his tenure fostering deep ties with maritime businesses and organizations locally, regionally and nationally. “I have great respect for all of the moving parts in the industry, including our professional mariners and all of the good people who support our operations from the shore, 24-7-365.”
The President and CEO also focuses heavily on mariner training initiatives, investing significant funding in each newly hired employee to provide them the opportunity to become a licensed mariner. “We hire for attitude and train for skill,” he says. “The result is a strong foundation of ready, loyal and supportive employees and operators.” Once certified, mariners can be hired anywhere—so the retention of employees is a particular point of pride for the team at Canal Barge.
Additionally, Lane nurtures the rapport Canal Barge has with the New Orleans community. As a member of the executive committee of the New Orleans Business Council, he is actively involved in flood protection initiatives for the city, and was the first chairman of the board of The Idea Village, an organization devoted to driving a culture of entrepreneurship in New Orleans. “We genuinely care about the community and contributing to its ecosystem,” he says. “After all, the community is the foundation for the future of New Orleans.”
Lane was named 2009 Maritime Person of the Year by the Propeller Club. Lane serves as Immediate Past Chairman of the Board of Directors of the American Waterways Operators, as a vice chairman of the Waterways Council, Inc., and as a board member of the National Waterways Foundation and the U.S. Coast Guard Foundation.