The history of Kirby can be traced back to 1921 when John Henry Kirby, a pioneer in the development of the Houston business community, formed Kirby Petroleum Company, an independent oil and gas exploration and development company. Kirby’s stock first publicly traded in 1956 following a merger with Kirby VenSyn Petroleum Co.
Kirby entered the marine transportation business in 1969 with the acquisition of Dixie Carriers, Inc. In the 1970’s, following a major business restructuring, Dixie Carriers, along with a number of oil and gas interests and other assets, became part of Kirby Exploration Company which began publicly trading in 1976 under the ticker “KEX”. In 1987, the Board of Directors adopted a strategy to focus on the core marine transportation and diesel engine services businesses, following through the next year with the sale of the oil and gas assets. The name of the company was changed to Kirby Corporation in 1990.
Today, Kirby Corporation operates the nation’s largest domestic tank barge operator transporting bulk liquid products throughout the Mississippi River System on the Gulf Intracoastal Waterway, along all three U.S. coasts, and in Alaska and Hawaii.
Kirby transports petrochemicals, black oil, refined petroleum products and agricultural chemicals by tank barge for a blue chip list of customers. In the distribution and services segment, Kirby operates the largest marine diesel engine service and repair company in the country and also services engines in the industrial, power generation and land-based, or oilfield services, industries.
Kirby and its marine transportation and distribution and services segments have approximately 5,800 employees. Kirby’s common stock is listed on the New York Stock Exchange trading under the symbol “KEX”.
Kirby’s marine transportation subsidiaries operate both the largest inland and offshore tank barge fleets in the United States.
Kirby’s distribution and services subsidiary is also a leading distributor and services provider to industrial markets, offering customers a single source for after-market service and parts for diesel engines, transmissions, reduction gears, and related equipment used in oilfield services, marine, power generation, on-highway, and other industrial applications.
Kirby and its marine transportation and distribution and services segments have approximately 5,800 employees, the majority of whom are in the United States. Kirby’s common stock is listed on the New York Stock Exchange trading under the symbol “KEX”.
Kirby further expands its inland marine fleet with the purchase of Cenac Marine Services’ transportation fleet
In March, Kirby acquired the marine transportation fleet of Cenac Marine Services, LLC for approximately $244 million including 63 inland tank barges with approximately 1.8 million barrels of capacity, 34 inland towboats and 2 offshore tugboats. Cenac transported petrochemicals, refined products, and black oil, including crude oil, residual fuels, feedstocks and lubricants on the lower Mississippi River, its tributaries, and Gulf Intracoastal Waterway for major oil companies and refineries.
Kirby continues to expand its inland marine fleet through key acquisitions
In February, Kirby acquired Higman Marine, Inc. for approximately $419 million including 163 inland tank barges with approximately 4.9 million barrels of capacity and 75 inland towboats. Higman’s fleet moved petrochemicals, refined petroleum products, crude oil, natural gas condensate, and black oil on the Mississippi River System and Gulf Intracoastal Waterway.
In May, Kirby acquired Targa Resources Corp’s inland marine tank barge business for approximately $69.3 million. Targa’s inland marine tank barge fleet consisted of 16 pressure barges with a total capacity of approximately 258,000 barrels.
In December, Kirby acquired 27 10,000 barrel inland marine tank barges with a total capacity of approximately 270,000 barrels from CGBM 100, LLC.
Kirby acquires Stewart & Stevenson
Kirby acquired Stewart & Stevenson LLC for approximately $756.5 million expanding the geographic footprint and distribution and manufacturing capabilities of the distribution and services segment.
Kirby makes additional inland marine purchases.
Kirby purchased additional inland marine assets including nine specialty pressure tank barges, four 30,000 barrel tank barges, and three 1320 horsepower towboats from an undisclosed competitor for $68 million.
Purchase of the Inland Tank Barge Fleet of SEACOR Holdings Inc.
In April 2016, Kirby completed the purchase of the Jones Act inland tank barge fleet from SEACOR Holdings. The fleet consisted of 27 inland 30,000 barrel tank barges and 13 inland towboats, plus one 30,000 barrel tank barge and one towboat under construction.”
Kirby acquires Penn Maritime Inc.
Kirby acquired Penn’s fleet consisting of 18 coastal double hull tank barges with 1.9 million barrels of capacity and 16 tugboats for $300 million. Penn provided coastal transportation of black oil in the Northeast, Atlantic and Gulf Coast regions.
Kirby makes additional purchases.
Kirby purchases 10 coastal tank barges, three offshore dry bulk barges and seven coastal tugboats for $109 million in cash from Allied Transportation Company. Allied provided coastal transportation of petrochemicals as well as dry sugar products in the Northeast, Atlantic and Gulf Coast regions.
Kirby expands diesel engine services business with acquisition of United Holdings
In April, Kirby acquired United Holdings, a distributor and service provider of engine and transmission related products for the land-based oil and gas services, power generation and on-highway transportation industries, and manufacturer of oilfield service equipment, for $271 million.
Additional marine transportation acquisitions.
In February, Kirby acquired a 51% interest in a barge shifting and fleeting facility on the Houston Ship Channel for $4 million, and acquired 21 tank barges and 15 towboats and tugboats primarily engaged in ship bunkering in Florida for $53 million.
In July, Kirby acquired K-Sea Transportation, an operator of tank barges and tugboats participating in the regional distribution coastal of primarily refined petroleum products along all three United States coasts and in Alaska and Hawaii, for $603 million. Lastly, in December, Kirby acquired three 80,000 barrel coastal tank barges and three tugboats for $43 million.
Kirby purchases previously leased barges from Cypress Barge Leasing, Midland Marine and Siemens Financial and OFS Marine One.
Kirby purchases Global Power Holding Company.
Kirby purchases Global Power Holding Company. Global was a Gulf Coast high-speed diesel engine services provider, operating full service marine dealerships for Caterpillar, Cummins, Detroit Diesel and John Deere high-speed diesel engines and Allison Transmission.
Kirby purchases the remaining Coastal Towing fleet.
Kirby acquires the black oil fleet of American Commercial Lines, Inc.
Kirby acquires SeaRiver Maritime Fleet.
Kirby acquires the SeaRiver Maritime fleet, the U.S. transportation affiliate of Exxon Mobil Corporation.
Kirby continues external growth.
Kirby continues its strategy of external growth with the purchase of the Cargo Carriers fleet, Union Carbide fleet, and part of the Coastal Towing fleet, with a management agreement for the remaining Coastal fleet.
Hollywood Marine, Inc. is merged into Kirby Inland Marine.
Hollywood Marine, Inc. is merged into Kirby Inland Marine, combining the nation’s largest and third largest inland tank barge companies. Hollywood Marine, like Kirby, had a long history in the inland tank barge business, growing through a series of acquisitions, including Alamo Barge Lines in 1985, as well as through tank barge construction.
Kirby Inland Marine is formed.
Kirby sells its offshore tank barges and ships, harbor tugs, remaining 45% ownership interest in Universal Insurance Company and changed the name of Dixie Carriers and Kirby’s other marine transportation subsidiaries to Kirby Inland Marine.
Board of Directors reassesses Kirby’s business strategy and adopted a strategy to focus on core inland tank barge and diesel engine service businesses.
Transportation assets of Dow Chemical Company are acquired.
AFRAM Carriers, Inc. is acquired.
Kirby makes additional marine transportation acquisitions.
Kirby acquires Sabine Towing & Transportation. Sabine Towing had a history dating back to 1909. Dixie Carriers and Sabine Towing, as well as numerous of the other marine companies acquired by Kirby including Ole Man River Company, Scott Chotin, Inc. were very instrumental in the development of the United States inland waterway system, which is composed of thousands of miles of navigable rivers, canals and coastal waterways.
The name of the company is changed to Kirby Corporation.
The name of the company is changed to Kirby Corporation, retaining the Kirby identity as a publicly traded company.
Alamo Inland Marine Co. and Brent Towing Company are acquired.
Oil and gas assets were sold and Kirby embarked on its marine transportation strategy.
Kirby focuses on marine transportation.
After an extensive study and much consideration, the Kirby Board of Directors determined that the future of Kirby should be concentrated on marine transportation and related activities.
Kirby enters the diesel engine services business.
Kirby enters the diesel engine services business with the acquisition of Marine Systems, Inc, a small Gulf Coast facility servicing medium-speed and high-speed diesel engines used in marine applications.
1976 — 1988
Kirby Exploration Company is engaged in oil and gas exploration and development, marine transportation through Dixie Carriers, and property and casualty insurance through Universal Insurance.
Kirby Exploration Company is engaged in oil and gas exploration and development, marine transportation through Dixie Carriers, and property and casualty insurance through Universal Insurance. During that period, as in the past, Kirby’s primary emphasis remained on oil and gas exploration and development. The oil and gas boom of the early 1980’s was a very active period for the oil and gas operation, with extensive exploratory drilling in the Fletcher Field of Oklahoma. The field was not as productive as anticipated, with Kirby relying on the cash flow of Dixie Carriers and the stock value of Universal Insurance to financially support the oil and gas operation.
Kirby Industries liquidates.
With the underlying value of Kirby Industries assets substantially higher than the stock price, the Board of Directors adopted a plan of complete liquidation, designed to distribute to the stockholders of Kirby Industries cash and the stocks of certain companies. The oil and gas producing assets of Kirby Petroleum and the assets of Kirby Building Systems were sold, with the cash proceeds distributed to Kirby Industries stockholders. The stock of Caribbean Finance Company was distributed pro rata to the Kirby Industries stockholders, with Caribbean Finance Company becoming a publicly traded company. The liquidation also resulted in the stocks of Dixie Carriers and Universal Insurance, and the nonproducing oil and gas acreage, royalty interests and interests in oil and gas limited partnerships being transferred to a new corporation named Kirby Exploration Company. Kirby Exploration Company became publicly owned on September 30, 1976 when its common stock was distributed pro rata to the former Kirby Industries stockholders.
Kirby acquires Dixie Carriers (formerly “River Terminals Corporation”).
Kirby Petroleum Company adopts the name “Kirby Industries, Inc.”
As was quite common for the time, Kirby Industries operated as a conglomerate with many different operations: oil and gas exploration and development through Kirby Petroleum Co., the manufacture of steel buildings through Kirby Building Systems, Inc., financing of automobiles through Caribbean Finance Company, Inc., property and casualty insurance through Universal Insurance Company, and marine transportation through Dixie Carriers, Inc. Even though Kirby Industries had many different operations, the primary emphasis was on oil and gas exploration and development.
Kirby VenSyn Petroleum Company is formed.
Kirby Petroleum Company operated as a Houston based independent oil and gas exploration and development company until 1956 when, after the sale of its producing properties, the remaining non-producing acreage was merged with three other independent oil and gas companies to form Kirby VenSyn Petroleum Company, a publicly traded company. As a result of the mergers, the Murchison family of Dallas, later noted for its ownership of the Dallas Cowboys, owned approximately 35% of Kirby. Murchison family members remain shareholders of Kirby today.
River Terminals Corporation is purchased.
The history of Kirby Inland Marine, the nation’s largest inland tank barge operator, can be traced to 1948, when a group of Houston investors, including George Peterkin, Sr., father of Kirby’s former Chairman Emeritus, George Peterkin, Jr., purchased River Terminals Corporation, a transporter of petroleum between Houston and New Orleans and cotton down the Mississippi River to New Orleans. This company became Dixie Carriers, Inc. which was acquired by Kirby in 1969.
John Henry Kirby forms Kirby Petroleum Company.
The history of Kirby can be traced back to 1921 when John Henry Kirby, a pioneer in the development of the Houston business community, formed Kirby Petroleum Company, an oil and gas exploration and development company. Today, the name “Kirby” is a well recognized name in Houston, with the “Kirby Building” and the “Kirby Mansion” in downtown Houston and a major Houston street, “Kirby Drive,” all named in John Henry Kirby’s honor.