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A big fish in a small town.

Monticello's SeaArk Marine Inc. Makes A Name For Itself In The Workboat Manufacturing Industry

The next time you're in Pine Bluff, look out on the Arkansas River.

You just might catch a glimpse of a mudpuppy, an osprey or even a wahoo.

What are these creatures doing on the Arkansas River?

Well, they're boats.

SeaArk Marine Inc. of Monticello is one of the nation's leading builders of small and medium-size workboats. The company had 1991 revenues of $8 million.

SeaArk tests its products on the Arkansas River at Pine Bluff.

The Mudpuppy, Osprey and Wahoo are three of the models recently built by SeaArk for the Environmental Protection Agency. The boats are specially designed by SeaArk for environmental projects.

The Mudpuppy, a 27-foot flatbottom aluminum workboat, is used to test sediments in the Great Lakes basin for toxic pollutants, according to SeaArk's marketing director, Robin McClendon. EPA officials hope the five-year study, mandated by the Clean Water Act of 1987, will identify areas that need to be cleaned up.

The Mudpuppy is equipped with a sophisticated computer system and can be transported on a trailer, which allows for easy road transfers when water travel is not feasible.

Four other models are being used by the EPA as part of a long-term project that will provide scientists and the public with information regarding the environmental health of other parts of the country.

For instance, SeaArk boats are used in surveys of marine life in the Gulf of Mexico. Each of the 26-foot boats has a cathedral-style hull and special equipment to determine if current pollution-control practices are effective.

Environmental Focus

SeaArk has worked with the EPA since 1972.

According to Robert Trammel, SeaArk's president since 1988, the company produces workboats for government entities ranging from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to the Marine Corps to the Navy. SeaArk boats are used for patrol, search and rescue, security and assault purposes.

In 1990, SeaArk delivered six assault craft to the Marines in less than 90 days. That same year, 21 SeaArk boats were used to clean up an oil spill off the Florida coast.

Although SeaArk's business is based largely on government contracts, Trammel says that's not the company's sole focus.

"We serve from 60 to 100 clients," he says.

A SeaArk boat can cost up to $1 million.

"Some of the scientific and communication equipment loaded on these boats can get very expensive," Trammel says.

SeaArk, which employs about 100 people, seems to have found its niche, the result of a major decision made by owner Zach McClendon Jr. in 1988.

SeaArk was begun by Zach McClendon Sr. and Zach McClendon Jr. in 1958 as MonArk Boat Co. The company manufactured both workboats and recreational boats.

The recreational division was sold to the Brunswick Corp. in 1988 so the company could focus on the more lucrative workboat line. SeaArk has done well since the change.

"We build them from the ground up," Trammel says. "We test them in the Arkansas River at Pine Bluff and then ship them all around the world."
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Title Annotation:Monticello's SeaArk Marine Inc.
Author:Harper, Kim
Publication:Arkansas Business
Article Type:Company Profile
Date:Feb 3, 1992
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