Weeks Marine: A generational company continues its legacy under Kiewit

June 23, 2023 | Kieways 2023 Q2

As 2022 drew to a close, those at Kiewit Corporation and Weeks Marine, Inc. had much more on their minds than traditional New Year’s resolutions. On Jan. 1, 2023, Kiewit completed its strategic acquisition of Weeks Marine and its subsidiaries, Healy Tibbitts Builders, Inc., McNally International, Inc. and North American Aggregates.

As leaders from both companies agreed, it was a
win-win morning for employees as they woke up to start the new year.

“This acquisition offers substantial opportunities for both companies,” said Kiewit CEO Rick Lanoha. “For Weeks Marine employees, they join one of the largest, most diversified construction and engineering organizations in the world. For Kiewit, we gain a highly skilled workforce and the ability to add Weeks Marine’s leading maritime engineering and construction capabilities, and strong dredging expertise and tunneling services to our portfolio
of services.”

The Weeks Marine and Kiewit organizations have worked together on several joint ventures since the 1960s.

These partnerships revealed shared core values and a unifying mission to excel in all aspects of the work.

“Our shared cultures and values, which focus on the success and growth of our people, a relentless commitment to safety and quality, and demanding excellence in everything we do, are what will make this acquisition a success,” Lanoha said.

Weeks Marine and its subsidiaries are now independently branded subsidiaries of Kiewit.

Long, storied histories

Similar to the Peter Kiewit story, it was family that forged the legacy of Weeks Marine. Only the Weeks story began in 1919, at a crowded port in New York City where patriarch Francis Weeks and his son, Richard B. Weeks, saw and seized an opportunity.

The East Coast ports were bustling as thousands of cargo and passenger ships made their way to the United States from all over the world, and Francis saw the ports were in great need of stevedores. Stevedores, commonly referred to as longshoremen, dockers or dockworkers, are manual laborers who load and unload ships. The father and son team assembled two floating cranes and began handling bunker coal and dry ballast and thus, the Weeks Stevedoring Company was born.

By the time Francis died in 1940, the company, then 21 years old, had seven cranes in its fleet and was left in the hands of his son, Richard B. To help fill the void of his father, Richard B. brought on his sons, Dick and Ted. Together, they initiated a period of growth beyond stevedoring into related maritime industries, including wreck removal, dredging and marine construction. Weeks began installing navigational aids for the U.S. Coast Guard and became the prime contractor assigned to remove abandoned piers and vessels for the Army Corps of Engineers — work that Weeks Marine continues to perform today.

A close connection begins

It was in the 1960s that a future Weeks acquisition – Healy Tibbitts, Inc. – began a longstanding relationship with Kiewit in California, including the massive Bay Area Rapid Transit Trans-Bay Tube Project, which at the time was the longest and deepest vehicular tube in service. It was the beginning of many strategic partnerships between Weeks Marine and its subsidiaries, and Kiewit.

In the 1970s, Dick’s son, Richard S., joined the company’s leadership team. Throughout the 1980s and 1990s, Weeks acquired a series of like-minded marine companies to grow and expand its market presence. These included M.P. Howlett (1983), Healy Tibbitts (1989), American Dredging Company (1993) and T.L. James (1998). It was also during this time that Weeks Stevedoring Company officially became Weeks Marine, Inc.

In 2011, Weeks Marine purchased McNally Construction, a leading tunneling and marine construction contractor, and strengthened its presence in Canada. In 2016, Weeks Marine entered the aggregates business, creating North American Aggregates, now the largest supplier of sand in the New York metropolitan area.

Weeks Marine, McNally and Healy Tibbitts worked closely with Kiewit on many strategic infrastructure projects across North America, including the Goethals Bridge, Willis Avenue Swing Bridge, the Euclid Storage Tunnel, the Toronto-York Spadina Subway Extension Tunnel, and key projects for the Army Corps of Engineers.

“This strong partnership between the Weeks Marine organization and Kiewit, and the relationships they fostered, would be the foundation for the companies to finalize a deal to have Weeks Marine become a key part of the Kiewit family,” said Kiewit Executive Vice President and Board Member Hank Adams.

A bright future together

Today, Weeks Marine specializes in maritime construction and transportation, dredging, tunneling and aggregates production — and is still in the bulk stevedoring business where it all started.

“Weeks Marine’s unique and extensive fleet, together with Kiewit’s existing marine assets, will be unparalleled in the United States,” Adams said.

Weeks Marine CEO Eric Ellefsen agrees.

“It was never about money for the Weeks family,” he said. “Their goal was to leave the company in the custody and care of an organization that would continue to build upon the vision that Francis and Richard N. Weeks laid out decades ago and Dick and Richard S. steered until Richard S. decided the right thing to do for the company was to sell. Ultimately, they didn’t want any other company to buy it except Kiewit.”

For Weeks Marine, being part of the Kiewit family of companies makes sense, said Ellefsen.

“Both are generational companies that make generational decisions,” he said. “We come from similar cultures and our core values align. With Kiewit, Weeks Marine will be able to accomplish much more, much faster than we ever could without them.”

And that is exactly what Kiewit looks for when it makes acquisitions. According to Scott Schmidt, vice president of Strategy & Development, when Kiewit invests in an acquisition, it does so with the goal of expanding that company’s market presence.

“Weeks Marine is the leader in maritime contracting,” Schmidt said. “Kiewit has been wanting to expand in the maritime space, but to do that organically would take decades — not to mention cost billions of dollars when you consider the specialized equipment fleet and expertise needed to get to where we wanted to be, which is where the Weeks Marine organization already sits. Now we look forward to taking Weeks Marine further, faster using Kiewit’s existing resources.”

According to Ellefsen, the acquisition is advantageous for all parties.

“We have outstanding, highly skilled people with leading dredging, maritime engineering and construction capabilities that nicely complement what Kiewit offers its clients and the markets it serves,” he said. “Kiewit offers Weeks Marine employees opportunities to grow their careers in new, exciting ways.”

“Both organizations have excellent client relationships and strong reputations of being solutions providers,” Adams added. “I’m excited to see what we can accomplish together.”


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