When recently asked to comment on the start of his career Robert Guidry, known to many as Bobby, took the audience back to 1958, when during school vacations as a boy of only 12, he worked 60 miles off shore on a tug boat owned by his father. His duties, during the 14 day long shifts at sea included being a deckhand, oiler, and cook. In 1963, after high school, he went to work full time helping to run the family’s tug business; something he would do for the next 45 years.
In a classic tale of American bootstrapping entrepreneurial success, Bobby Guidry started earning $300 a month from the tug business. With his monthly rent at $90.00, car note at $50.00, and a wife and child at home, his finances were extremely tight. But Bobby and his brother preserved and built the family business over the decades to become the clear industry leader with a fleet of offshore vessels unmatched in quality and power.
In sharing what he was most proud of regarding the years at Harvey Gulf International Marine, Bobby said, “it’s really two related achievements, first we avoided having any significant debt on the business, which in turn allowed us always to be profitable from 1963 to 2008.”
When asked if the profit record was ever in jeopardy given all the ups and downs of the oil business his answer shocks most. “No, in fact, we were profitable every single month; that’s 490 consecutive months of profitability in the oil field business; not too many companies can match us on that one.”
With a great sense of timing that had always marked his career, Mr. Guidry, and his family sold Harvey Gulf International Marine to a New York private equity fund in August of 2008 only weeks before the financial crisis gripped the nation.
When asked about the keys to his success in business his response flows quickly, “I worked harder than my competitors. When most others were asleep, I was already at work, when others were off playing on a Friday afternoon, I was still making sales calls or at the shipyard making sure our boat was first back into the water ahead of our competitors”. He went on to say that “without my brother and my loyal employees, the businesses would have never achieved the success we enjoyed.”
While Robert Guidry might be best known for Harvey Gulf International Marine, he has enjoyed tremendous success as a businessman spanning multiple industries tha