Dennis Pasentine Honored by Propeller Club
Wade Wetherington, president of the International Propeller Club of the United States, left, and Andrew Riester, international vice president, right, present Man of the Year award to Dennis Pasentine, center.
Dennis A. Pasentine, owner and chairman of the board of Florida Marine Transporters, received the prestigious Man of the Year Award from the Propeller Club during the club’s International Convention, held in New Orleans October 3–5.
Pasentine’s hands-on leadership stresses family values and a “relentless pursuit of excellence,” striving to become the best inland boat and barge operator. Loyalty, safety, reliability, customer service and a charitable culture are cornerstone values of his business.
After graduating from high school in 1974, Pasentine worked for Exxon as a tankerman and later licensed captain. He left in 1976 to work for Gulf Intracoastal Marine, where he served as a field representative and tankerman until 1979.
The company recognized his administrative talents and brought him into the office to develop proper loading and discharge procedures for tank barges and training new tankermen. He also served as captain, port captain, and operations manager, developing safety, operating and personnel policies as well as hiring and training new employees. He left in 1993 when the company was sold to outside interests.
Pasentine went to work for Florida Marine Transporters, Mandeville, La., where he oversaw the development of safety, operations and sales policies. He would serve as operations manager from 1994 to 1996, sales manager from 1996 to 1997, and chief operating officer from 1997 to 1998, before acquiring the company as owner in 1998.
Since 1998, no other inland tank barge company has built more new barges or towboats. In the process, he also established FMT Shipyard & Repair along the Harvey Canal on the Westbank of New Orleans.
Pasentine’s philosophy is that each employee is vital to FMT’s success, and his loyalty to his employees has resulted in most captains having more than 10 years of service with him, some dating to his days at Gulf Intracoastal Marine.
A big believer in training, FMT begins employees with a 14-day orientation program, in which they learn about the company’s safety culture and gain basic skills needed to work on company towing vessels. With additional service, employees attend company training classes to gain their tankerman license, and can move on in company training to master of towing certification.
In the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, when Delgado Community College could find no other classroom space for its Industrial, Marine and Fire School, Pasentine made room at his training center. Together with other organizations, FMT partnered with Delgado to establish a state-of-the-art towboat simulator to train wheelmen.
FMT’s ongoing commitment to the AWO Responsible Carrier Program and Shell Chemical’s “Hearts and Minds” Behavioral Based HSE Program contributed to a significant reduction in overall number of injuries, illnesses and vessel incidents.
Feeling he has been blessed with some of the industry’s best employees, Pasentine is quick to give back to the community. In the days after Hurricane Katrina, he established Friends of the Frontline foundation, a non-profit organization that raised nearly $1 million for families of police and firemen who lost homes due to flooding.
In some of his other philanthropic efforts, he has supported the Drew Brees Dream Foundation, Jonathan Vilma Foundation, St. Tammany Arts Foundation, Special Olympics LA, Fore Kids Foundation, Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation, MHS Football Boosters, MSC Boy Premier, FS Cheerleading, Saint Paul’s School, St. Tammany West Chamber of Commerce, Lake Pontchartrain Foundation, American Cancer Society, Smile Train, Church of the King, SBBA, Ponce De Leon High, Cub Scouts and Children’s Foundation, among others.
The FMT fleet is valued at $1.5 billion and includes 275 tank barges for Class D cargoes, and more than 270 tank barges rated Subchapter O for chemicals; 59 canal-class towboats ranging in horsepower from 1,700 to 2,800; 16 river-class towboats ranging in horsepower from 3,300 to 6,000; 13 pressurized LNG barges; 50 heavy-duty hopper barges for aggregate cargoes; three spud barges; three drydocks rated from 1,000 tons to 3,000 tons; 10 service barges for oil pollution cleanup; and a bow steering unit featuring state-of-the-art technology.
FMT employs nearly 800 employees dedicated to transporting customers’ resources with the highest level of safety, efficiency and environmental stewardship.