Economy Boat Store, a longtime Ballard County business, recently held a grand reopening to mark the rebuilding of its Wickliffe facility which was destroyed by a storm March 7, 2017.
The company, which serves the inland marine industry, has been operating out of temporary quarters since the storm. Reaching the decision to rebuild, and thereby maintain a presence as one of Wickliffe's largest employers, was made fairly quickly, according to David Reynolds, vice president of Pilot Thomas Logistics.
Economy Boat Store is a division of Pilot Thomas Logistics. The original EBS location in Wickliffe opened in 1988 to serve the barge industry at the confluence of the Mississippi and Ohio rivers.
"After a little deliberation, we decided we wanted to double down and make the investment in the city of Wickliffe and Ballard County and to our people there where we employ about 31 team members," Reynolds said, "and obviously to the industry that we serve."
Economy Boat Store's products and services include midstream and dockside fueling, lube oil, groceries, meat, rope, rigging, liquid terminally and crew changes.
"Essentially we're a one-stop shopping provider on the inland waterways," Reynolds said.
"Our relationship with the captain and cooks on these vessels is obviously very important. Our customers need us to serve their crew members. We see a lot of value in the one-stop shopping, kind of full service experience that provides us a way to differentiate ourselves," he said.
In addition to Wickliffe, EBS operates in Wood River, Illinois; St. Louis, Missouri; Memphis, Tennessee; and Baton Rouge, Louisiana; and serves the Gulf Coast out of Mobile, Alabama.
According to Reynolds, the fact EBS was able to continue providing service to the marine industry while the new facility was being rebuilt is a testament to its employees.
"We feel we've got a long-tenured workforce and a great foundation not only in Wickliffe but throughout the entire Economy Boat Store network," he said. "Barry Kelley has led our Wickliffe operation for just over 25 years. He sets the tone for us. We've got a lot of great folks."
The new building is located at 169 River Circle Drive in Wickliffe.