The Feeney family’s involvement in New York’s marine industry dates back to the 1860s, when Owen Feeney emigrated from Ireland to America and became a stonemason in the Delaware and Hudson Canal. Owen’s son, Bryan, entered the industry as a tower on the canal, and it was Bryan’s son, Thomas A., who founded Feeney’s in 1904.
In the beginning, Feeney’s specialized in building wooden barges and scows, constructing an average of 14 a year between 1917 and 1931. Simultaneous to meeting their customer’s needs, Feeney’s concentrated on building its own fleet, which began with just three ships in 1922 and grew to 26.
As the company entered its fourth decade, the marine industry transitioned from wood to steel construction. To meet these emerging standards, Feeney’s retooled its facility in 1941 and began fabricating steel-hulled barges.
After Thomas A. Feeney passed away in 1959, his sons, Thomas J. and Bernard A. Feeney assumed ownership of the business. The yard prospered throughout the 1960s, constructing 75 new vessels and expanding its towing fleet to eight tugboats and 40 barges. However, business declined sharply during the 1970s due to the advent of the St. Lawrence Seaway, which diverted traffic away from Feeney’s main towing operations in the New York State Barge Canal. To minimize the financial impact of its diminished towing business, Feeney’s constructed a 1500 ton floating dry dock, which allowed them to further develop their repair operations.
In 1981, Thomas J. Feeney passed away, and his eldest son, Thomas R. Feeney, took over as President and CEO. In order to consolidate control of the company within one family, he bought out Bernard A. Feeney’s family. Soon after assuming control, Thomas R. realized that the yard would need extensive modernization to remain viable in the marketplace of the 1980s and beyond. Within the first two years of his presidency, he arranged the purchase of a 125 ton Lima crane, a 20 ton rough terrain Omega crane, two new air compressors, new welding machines, and many small hand tools. This re-tooling was the first major modernization that yard had undergone since the change from wood to steel construction in 1940.
Between 1981 and 2001, the yard survived mainly on scow and barge repair. During this period, Feeney’s also constructed five new 140’ x 40’ x 11’ x 3” scows, a 140’ x 55’ x 11’ x 3” crane barge, a 180’ x 90’ x 9’ dry dock hull, and one 78’ x 40’ x 8’ anchor handling vessel. While new construction was nice, it was difficult to remain competitive with other aggressive new building facilities.
After 2001, the yard steadily moved into the tug repair market. Relationships with Hornbeck Offshore, K-Sea Transportation, Reinauer Transportation, Gellatly and Criscione, Port Albany Ventures, and Harbor Ferry Service were cemented on one simple principle: hard work and good service will bring customers back.
Tugboat work has exploded in the past two years. The yard has been fortunate to have been able to complete every type of job from a simple up-and-down dry docking to an extensive overhaul and complete refit. We have completed four Beacon Finland JAK Pin installations since 2005. Two of these, the Houma and Davis Sea, were for K-Sea Transportation, and two, the Stephen Reinauer and Dace Reinauer, were for Reinauer Transportation. We are currently working on the Joanne Reinauer and will be doing the Lucy Reinauer next.
The JAK conversions have allowed the yard to forge new relationships with other skilled tradesmen. We have worked closely with General Marine Electric, JMS Naval Architects, GMT Electronics and First Electric Motor Service to complete the vessels in a timely and efficient manner. We look forward to continuing our relationships with these talented tradesmen in the future.
The future for Feeney Enterprises is a bright one. In 2006, we installed 350’ of new steel sheet piling bulkhead and upgraded our electrical services at two points within the yard. In December 2007, we signed a lease for a new production facility, which affords us 7,500 square feet of sheltered and heated space to perform fabrication and repair work. Plans are now in the works to construct another 120’ x 60’ building on our property. This should be up and running by December 2008 and will become our main fabrication building. It will be equipped with two 10 ton bridge cranes, a plasma burning table, and several pieces of forming equipment.
The yard is also working on a second dry dock, which will measure 160’ x 60’ x 9’ with 55’ clear between the wing walls. Construction is moving slowly, however, because we only work on it when we have a lull in repair or conversion – something that has not happened of late!
We at Feeney Enterprises hope to supply our customers with quality work well into the future.