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Gulf Island Fabrication, Known for Team Culture, Expands in Houma

It’s all about teamwork at Gulf Island Fabrication, a leading fabricator of complex steel structures, modules and marine vessels, and a provider of project management, commissioning, repair and maintenance services. The company’s customers include U.S. and international energy producers; refining, petrochemical, LNG, industrial, power and marine operators; EPC companies; and certain agencies of the U.S. government.

Gulf Island’s Houma site, one of Terrebonne Parish’s largest employers, recently announced it will add 150 jobs to support its growing shipbuilding division. The company will work with LED FastStart to recruit and train the fleet of new welders, pipe fitters and structural fitters and ensure they’re job ready on day one.

Vice President and Chief Human Resources Officer Thomas Smouse says Gulf Island looks forward to recruiting new team members not just to fill immediate positions during the current surge, but to foster their advancement within the company over the long term.

“We want  our employees to have opportunities to grow their careers with us,” says Smouse. “We believe in a team approach and in strong collaboration. This is a company whose culture feels like family.”

Based in Houston, Gulf Island’s Terrebonne Parish site first opened in 1985, and currently employs 750 across Fabrication & Services and Shipyard divisions. In 2016, Gulf Island acquired LEEVAC Shipyards, further boosting its shipbuilding capabilities. This diversification has proven a strategic move — shipbuilding has helped the company weather dips on the fabrication side that stem from fluctuations in the oil and gas market.

The need for 150 new jobs is due in part to Gulf Island’s recent work with the United States Navy. In 2018, the company received notification of an award to build the first of a possible eight Navy towing, salvage and rescue ships. The Navy has since ordered four more such vessels and has options for another three.

Gulf Island has strong relationships with educational institutions in the region, including South Louisiana Community College’s Young Memorial Campus in Morgan City and Fletcher Technical Community College in nearby Schriever, which serve as a pipeline for hourly craft workers. The company is launching a college recruiting process aimed at hiring summer interns and college graduates into various professional positions, including engineers and designers for the company’s 30-person New Orleans office, which works in tandem with the Houma site.

Smouse says new hires find a company culture steeped in teamwork, cross training and mentoring. Safety training is a critical component of the initial two-day orientation, and includes instruction both in general safety and discipline-specific protocols.

Once on the job, Gulf Island employees have lots of opportunities to refine their skills and advance. A mentoring program and onsite welding program allow welding apprentices and tackers to gain the training they need to earn American Welding Society certification. Meanwhile, front line supervisors have access to soft skills training in conflict resolution, leadership skills, diversity and other topics that ensure they’re able to build cohesive teams. Gulf Island has also instituted recent programs in which employees on the fabrication side, which experienced a downturn during the Covid-19 pandemic, are retrained to work in the shipbuilding division and stay employed in the community.

“We believe in training,” says Smouse. “It’s a great way for our employees to keep growing and for our company to continue to benefit from their talents.”

Interested in a career with Gulf Island Fabrication? Check out Louisiana Job Connection today!