Although Louisiana’s energy industry has struggled through slumping oil prices, Eddie Compass IV isn’t letting it deter him.
Compass, 31, is president and chief executive officer of Next Generation Marine, which is establishing a new headquarters in Metairie and plans to expand its workforce from 45 to 100 people in the coming year.
Last week, the company christened two vessels at the Port of New Orleans. Both have been refurbished and upgraded with improved electronics and navigational equipment, as well other work to make the vessels more fuel-efficient, he said.
The firm was initially founded in 2011 but ramped up last year, according to Compass, the son of former New Orleans police chief Eddie Compass III.
Compass co-founded the company with Julien Chouest II, who serves as executive vice president and whose great uncle is Edison Chouest, founder of the well-known Chouest shipbuilding and offshore services firm.
Next Generation is among only two black-owned marine transportation companies in the U.S. that operate its own fleet, Compass said.
He believes the distinction gives him a better chance at securing government work.
In time, Compass hopes to open an office in downtown New Orleans. His vessels are located at Port Fourchon in Lafourche Parish.
A New Orleans native, Compass already has more than a decade of experience in the maritime industry. He’s aiming for Next Generation to become a company with capabilities to perform many of the industry’s key operations under one roof.
In the meantime, despite low oil prices, Compass said he’s making a bet that energy’s current downturn will subside.
“It’s going to come back and we’re going to get in right now,” he said. “Everyone is doom and gloom, and we’re looking at it the opposite way.”
Editor’s note: This story was changed on May 3, 2016, to correct Julien Chouest II’s relationship to Edison Chouest.
Follow Richard Thompson on Twitter, @rthompsonMSY.