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Kirby Corporation, through its marine transportation subsidiaries, is the nation's largest domestic tank barge operator transporting bulk liquid products throughout the Mississippi River System, on the Gulf Intracoastal Waterway, along all three U.S. coasts, and in Alaska and Hawaii. Kirby transports petrochemicals, black oil, refined petroleum products and agricultural chemicals by tank barge for a blue chip list of customers. Kirby, through its diesel engine services subsidiaries is a nationwide provider offering after-market service for medium-speed and high-speed diesel engines and reduction gears used in marine and power generation applications. Kirby also distributes and services diesel engines, transmissions, pumps and compression products, and manufactures and remanufactures oilfield service equipment, including pressure pumping units, for land-based pressure pumping and oilfield service markets.

The history of Kirby can be traced back to 1921 when John Henry Kirby, a pioneer in the development of the Houston business community, formed Kirby Petroleum Company, an oil and gas exploration and development company. Today, the name "Kirby" is a well recognized name in Houston, with the "Kirby Building" and the "Kirby Mansion" in downtown Houston and a major Houston street, "Kirby Drive," all named in John Henry Kirby's honor.

The history of Kirby Inland Marine, the nation's largest inland tank barge operator, can be traced to 1948, when a group of Houston investors, including George Peterkin, Sr., father of Kirby's former Chairman Emeritus, George Peterkin, Jr., purchased River Terminals Corporation, a transporter of petroleum between Houston and New Orleans and cotton down the Mississippi River to New Orleans. This company became Dixie Carriers, Inc. which was acquired by Kirby in 1969.

Kirby Petroleum Company operated as a Houston based independent oil and gas exploration and development company until 1956 when, after the sale of its producing properties, the remaining non-producing acreage was merged with three other independent oil and gas companies to form Kirby VenSyn Petroleum Company, a publicly traded company. As a result of the mergers, the Murchison family of Dallas, later noted for its ownership of the Dallas Cowboys, owned approximately 35% of Kirby. Murchison family members remain shareholders of Kirby today.

Kirby VenSyn Petroleum Company changed its name to Kirby Petroleum Co. in 1957 and adopted the name Kirby Industries, Inc. in 1967. As was quite common for the time, Kirby Industries operated as a conglomerate with many different operations: oil and gas exploration and development through Kirby Petroleum Co., the manufacture of steel buildings through Kirby Building Systems, Inc., financing of automobiles through Caribbean Finance Company, Inc., property and casualty insurance through Universal Insurance Company, and marine transportation through Dixie Carriers, Inc. Even though Kirby Industries had many different operations, the primary emphasis was on oil and gas exploration and development.

In 1974, with the underlying value of Kirby Industries assets substantially higher than the stock price, the Board of Directors adopted a plan of complete liquidation, designed to distribute to the stockholders of Kirby Industries cash and the stocks of certain companies. The oil and gas producing assets of Kirby Petroleum and the assets of Kirby Building Systems were sold, with the cash proceeds distributed to Kirby Industries stockholders. The stock of Caribbean Finance Company was distributed pro rata to the Kirby Industries stockholders, with Caribbean Finance Company becoming a publicly traded company. The liquidation also resulted in the stocks of Dixie Carriers and Universal Insurance, and the nonproducing oil and gas acreage, royalty interests and interests in oil and gas limited partnerships being transferred to a new corporation named Kirby Exploration Company. Kirby Exploration Company became publicly owned on September 30, 1976 when its common stock was distributed pro rata to the former Kirby Industries stockholders.

From 1976 through 1988, Kirby Exploration Company was engaged in oil and gas exploration and development, marine transportation through Dixie Carriers, and property and casualty insurance through Universal Insurance. During that period, as in the past, Kirby's primary emphasis remained on oil and gas exploration and development. The oil and gas boom of the early 1980's was a very active period for the oil and gas operation, with extensive exploratory drilling in the Fletcher Field of Oklahoma. The field was not as productive as anticipated, with Kirby relying on the cash flow of Dixie Carriers and the stock value of Universal Insurance to financially support the oil and gas operation. Kirby entered the diesel engine services business in 1982 with the acquisition of Marine Systems, Inc, a small Gulf Coast facility servicing medium-speed and high-speed diesel engines used in marine applications.

During 1987, after an extensive study and much consideration, the Kirby Board of Directors determined that the future of Kirby should be concentrated on marine transportation and related activities. In April 1988, the oil and gas assets were sold and Kirby embarked on its marine transportation strategy. Following that strategy, in 1990 the name of the company was changed to Kirby Corporation, retaining the Kirby identity as a publicly traded company.

During the late 1980's and early 1990's, under the guidance of Joseph H. Pyne, Kirby's current Chairman of the Board, Kirby grew from a medium-sized inland tank barge company to a diversified marine transportation company, offering transportation services in both inland and offshore arenas, as well as Kirby Engine Systems to marine and non-marine users. During that time frame, Kirby acquired Alamo Inland Marine Co., Brent Towing Company, Inc., Sabine Towing & Transportation, Ole Man River Towing Company, Scott Chotin, Inc., AFRAM Carriers, Inc., the transportation assets of Dow Chemical Company, as well as numerous other smaller inland and offshore transportation acquisitions. Sabine Towing, acquired in 1992, had a history dating back to 1909. Dixie Carriers and Sabine Towing, as well as numerous of the other marine companies acquired by Kirby, were very instrumental in the development of the United States inland waterway system, which is composed of thousands of miles of navigable rivers, canals and coastal waterways.

In late 1997, the Board of Directors reassessed Kirby's business strategy and adopted a strategy to focus on core inland tank barge and diesel engine service businesses. In 1998, Kirby sold its offshore tank barges and ships, harbor tugs, remaining 45% ownership interest in Universal Insurance Company and changed the name of Dixie Carriers and Kirby's other marine transportation subsidiaries to Kirby Inland Marine.

In October 1999, Hollywood Marine, Inc. was merged into Kirby Inland Marine, combining the nation's largest and third largest inland tank barge companies. Hollywood Marine, like Kirby, had a long history in the inland tank barge business, growing through a series of acquisitions, including Alamo Barge Lines in 1985, as well as through tank barge construction.

During 2002, Kirby continued its strategy of external growth with the purchase of the Cargo Carriers fleet, Union Carbide fleet, and part of the Coastal Towing fleet, with a management agreement for the remaining Coastal fleet. In 2003, Kirby acquired the SeaRiver Maritime fleet, the U.S. transportation affiliate of Exxon Mobil Corporation. In 2005, Kirby acquired the black oil fleet of American Commercial Lines, Inc., in 2006, purchased the remaining Coastal Towing fleet, and in 2007 and 2008, Kirby purchased previously leased barges from Cypress Barge Leasing, Midland Marine and Siemens Financial and OFS Marine One.

During the 1990's and 2000's, Kirby also grew its diesel engine services business through a series of 14 acquisitions, the largest of which was Global Power Holding Company in 2006. Global was a Gulf Coast high-speed diesel engine services provider, operating full service marine dealerships for Caterpillar, Cummins, Detroit Diesel and John Deere high-speed diesel engines and Allison Transmission.

The 2011 year was a very active year for both marine transportation and diesel engine services acquisitions. In February, Kirby acquired a 51% interest in a barge shifting and fleeting facility on the Houston Ship Channel for $4 million, and acquired 21 tank barges and 15 towboats and tugboats primarily engaged in ship bunkering in Florida for $53 million. In April, Kirby acquired United Holdings, a distributor and service provider of engine and transmission related products for the land-based oil and gas services, power generation and on-highway transportation industries, and manufacturer of oilfield service equipment, for $271. In July, Kirby acquired K-Sea Transportation, an operator of tank barges and tugboats participating in the regional distribution coastal of primarily refined petroleum products along all three United States coasts and in Alaska and Hawaii, for $603 million. Lastly, in December, Kirby acquired three 80,000 barrel coastal tank barges and three tugboats for $43 million.

In November 2012, purchased from Allied Transportation Company 10 coastal tank barges, three offshore dry bulk barges and seven coastal tugboats for $109 million in cash. Allied provided coastal transportation of petrochemicals as well as dry sugar products in the Northeast, Atlantic and Gulf Coast regions.

In December 2012, Kirby acquired Penn Maritime Inc. Penn's fleet consisted of 18 coastal double hull tank barges with 1.9 million barrels of capacity, and 16 tugboats for $300 million. Penn provided coastal transportation of black oil in the Northeast, Atlantic and Gulf Coast regions.

As of June 30, 2014, Kirby's marine transportation subsidiaries operate 874 inland tank barges with 17.3 million barrels of capacity, 254 inland towboats, 71 coastal tank barges with 6.0 million barrels of capacity, 76 coastal tugboats and seven offshore dry-cargo barges and tug units. Kirby's inland fleet represents approximately 25% of the United States inland tank barge fleet and its coastal fleet represents approximately 27% of the United States coastal tank barge fleet in the 195,000 barrel or less category.

Kirby's diesel engine services subsidiary, Kirby Engine Systems, is the nation's leading remanufacturer, and replacement parts and service provider for medium-speed and high-speed diesel engines used in marine and power generation applications. Kirby's diesel engine services subsidiary, United Holdings, is a major participant in the manufacture and remanufacture of oilfield service equipment, including pressure pumping units, and compression equipment, a service and replacement parts provider, and a new engine and transmission distributor in the key oil and gas basins and transportation corridors of the United States. Kirby has manufacturing relationships with EMD, Caterpillar, Cummins, MTU Detroit Diesel, John Deere, Allison Transmission, Daimler Trucks NA, Isuzu, Alfa Laval and others, and employs over 600 factory-trained and authorized project engineers, mechanics, machinists and manufacturing technicians.

Kirby and its marine transportation and diesel engine services subsidiaries have approximately 4,625 employees, substantially all of whom are in the United States. Kirby's common stock is listed on the New York Stock Exchange trading under the symbol "KEX".


Marine Transportation Acquisitions

Shipper Owned (Blue)
Independent (Red)
Date No. of Tank Barges Description
1986 5

Alliance Marine

1989 35

Alamo Inland Marine Co.

1989 53

Brent Towing Company, Inc.

1992 38

Sabine Towing & Transportation Co.

1992 26

Ole Man River Towing, Inc.

1992 29

Scott Chotin, Inc.

1992 *

South Texas Towing

1993 *

Guidry Enterprises

1993 53

Chotin Transportation Company

1999 270

Hollywood Marine, Inc. - Stellman, Alamo Barge Lines, Ellis towing, Arthur Smith, Koch Ellis, Mapco

2002 15

Cargo Carriers

2005 10 American Commercial Lines (black oil fleet)
2006 * Capital Towing
2007 37 Coastal Towing, Inc. (operated barges since 2002 under barge management agreement)
2007 21 Cypress Barge Leasing, LLC (operated as leased barges since 1994)
2007 11 Midland Marine Corporation (operated as leased barges)
2007 9 Siemens Financial (operated as leased barges)
2008 6 OFS Marine One (operated as leased barges)
2011 * Kinder Morgan (Greens Bayou fleet)
2011 21 Enterprise Marine (ship bunkering)
2011 57 K-Sea Transportation (coastal operator)
2011 3 Seaboats, Inc. (coastal transportation assets)
2012 17 Lyondell Chemical Co. (transportation assets)
2012 10 Allied Transportation Co. (coastal transportation assets)
2012 18 Penn Maritime Inc. (coastal transportation assets)
* Towboats only


Diesel Engine Services Acquisitions

Date Description
1987

National Marine

1991

Ewing Diesel

1995

Percle Enterprise

1996

MKW Power Systems

1997

Crowley (Power Assembly Shop)

2000

West Kentucky Machine Shop

2000

Powerway

2004

Walker Paducah Corp.

2005

TECO (Diesel Services Division)

2006

Global Power Holding Company

2006

Marine Engine Specialists

2007

NAK Engineering (Nordberg Engines)

2007

P&S Diesel Service

2007

Saunders Engine & Equipment Company

2008

Lake Charles Diesel, Inc.

2011

United Holdings LLC

2012

Flag Service & Maintenance, Inc.


 

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