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A few years back when we interviewed Tom Crowley, Jr. for the pages of Maritime Reporter & Engineering News, we asked him what he thought was the one technology that had the biggest impact on the safety and effi ciency of his company’s maritime operations. Surprisingly his answer was simple: ROPE.

The reasoning was simple too, as today’s lighter, stronger synthetic strands have gone a long way in helping to reduce back and other related lifting injuries on deck. He stands by that answer today, as well, but in a discussion of “technology,” he both praises and laments the modern marine electronics and the evolving wheelhouse. “There’s a ton of stuff in the wheelhouse, but I don’t think that anyone has done a really good job of making sense of all of that,” said Crowley. “You have so many new things in the wheelhouse, yet we haven’t gotten rid of a lot of things in the wheelhouse. It’s really overload on the crew and we have to fi gure a way to make that more streamlined.”

Technology time Tom Jr. took the reins, change that started with its inter- nal structure based on Tom’s bias towards operations. Prior to him taking over, management was a traditional pyramid, with the CEO on top and all units reporting upward. Essentially

Crowley turned that structure upside down and fl attened the organization, streamlining the support services and building distinct business units and teams.

But the changes extended far beyond standard fl ow charts.

As a private company, in Tom’s estimation, Crowley is op- portunistic in nature. “I think all family businesses tend to be more opportunistic, and that drives diversifi cation. You can get into things that maybe a public company would consider non- core or too outside the scope of what they do,” said Crowley. “Our family’s single holding is this company, so we needed to diversify our interest (to deal with the cyclical nature), but you have to fi nd a balance; you can’t be too far fl ung. We’ve sold businesses that didn’t fi t our longer term strategy, and I’m sure that will continue. But we will maintain a diversifi cation in our operations.”

While the path to the top spot was not planned or easy, early on Tom fi gured his role as CEO was less about ‘managing by numbers’ and more about establishing and maintaining a consis- tent culture across all business lines, all locations. The goal: to extend its philosophies on people and safety across every Crow- ley offi ce and employee so that no matter who or where you are, you get a similar experience in your interaction with Crowley. “We want to build an organization of people that are able to solve problems, create solutions for our customers, and do it in such a way that we add value to the customer’s needs and their business,” said Crowley. “And we do it in a way that we treat people right, and we do things the right way. I think that carries across to all of our people and businesses that we are in.”

While ‘knowing your customers’ and ‘creating solutions’ may seem cliché, properly deployed it can lead to signifi cant | Maritime Professional | 35

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Maritime Logistics Professional magazine is published six times annually.