For the captain and crew of the M/V Charles Reid Perry, working and living on a boat together for 30 days requires a certain camaraderie and kinship. According to the captain, Kevin Jackson, when he comes aboard, there is an immediate feeling of family among him and his crew. “It’s like walking into your house at home with your family,” Jackson says. “The deck crew is happy to see you, and you’re happy to see the guys.” It is very much a familial atmosphere among the captain and his crew. “It’s your family,” Jackson says. “You learn to get along. You learn everything about that person. You eat with them, you work with them, you watch TV with them for 30 days straight.” It also helps that everyone is there with the same goal – get the job done and do it right. Jackson and his crew each work with the mentality of having something back home worth working for. Of the hard work being put out by the men, he states, “It sits right with me.”
Jackson is only one of numerous employees who have quickly moved through the ranks at Marquette. When he started with Marquette in 2008, he was pitching hay; by 2013, he was working in the wheelhouse. Jackson attributes it to both the opportunities offered to the employees and the work ethic to prove yourself. “I took every step possible to grow and get to the next level,” he says. “As long as you learn fast, you can grow fast.” Through Marquette, he’s been able to give his family the lifestyle he didn’t have growing up. “When I was a kid, I didn’t have much, so I’m passionate about taking care of my family,” he says. As a father of five children, his job has provided a better life for them. “It makes me feel better, as a man, to be able to take care of my family.”
Being away from home for a month at a time and doing the work that they do, Jackson makes it a point to encourage his crew as much as possible. “I may tell them two or three times [on a shift] that I appreciate what they’re doing,” he adds. “I feel like, if you tell a person that so many times, that gets stuck in their head and they’ll realize, ‘Hey, he really appreciates me.’”
“I treat my guys the same way I want to be treated. We’re all equal.”
Marquette Transportation was founded in 1978 by Ray Eckstein. Over the course of its existence, Marquette has partnered with two additional family-owned businesses: Eckstein Marine Services and HLC Tugs and its marine transportation services have extended as far down as Central America and the Caribbean, with its headquarters here in Paducah.