Monday Lecture Series Presents: Joseph H. Pyne

When one thinks of transporting commercial goods across the country, most of the time, you think about airplanes or tractor-trailers.  However, what happens if the item to be shipped is the space shuttle?  Or multiple tons of coal or large quantities of chemicals?  That’s where tug boats and barges come into play.

The students attended a lecture about the Kirby Corporation given by Mr. Joseph Pyne.  Mr. Pyne is currently the CEO and chairman of the Board for Kirby Corporation. Kirby has grown from a small inland tank barge company to a worldwide marine transportation corporation.  Operating on both inland and offshore waterways, Kirby operates over 1,000 ships, moving cargo cheaper and at safer measures than even trains or trucks.  In fact, for dry materials, one barge can carry as much freight as 16 rail cars or 70 trucks.  With liquid material, the ratio of transportation ability is 1:46:144 respectively.  Not to mention that the fuel efficiency of a tug and barge is over four times that of a truck.

Kirby’s biggest customer? Exxon Mobil, making chemical transports 51% of Kirby’s business.  With a record of spilling less than 1 teaspoon of oil per million gallons transported, Kirby is one of the greenest marine transportation companies out there.

Mr. Pyne ended the lecture with a challenge for each of us. Barge designs have remained relatively the same for decades. Our challenge is to take the leap and reform that which has been constant, to break the innovative barrier in this thriving industry and develop new technology to improve the efficiency of tugs and barges.