Marisco Ltd. may be a newcomer to the Top 250, but the 14-year-old ship repair business is no stranger to its local competitors. The $12.4-million, 85-employee company operates the largest civilian dry dock in the state and offers fullship repair services that include sandblasting, painting, welding and structural alignment. Owner and President Fred Anawati says he is booked solid for dry-docking repairs through early 1988, forcing him to turn down recent inquiries from 30 fishing boat operators from Korea and Japan.
The 46-year-old Anawati, who owns five other local ship support businesses, moved to Hawaii in 1968 after earning a degree in agricultural engineering from California Polytechnic Institute. "Today I grow boats,' he quips. The climate, culture and laid-back Island lifestyle reminded him of Alexandria, Egypt, where he was born and raised around large ships operated by his father. After five years of engineering work for local shipyards, Anawati decided he could do a better job than some of the subconstractors he dealt with. He obtained his master ship repair contractor's license and borrowed $2,000 in 1973 to set up shop in a small garage on Queen Street. Six months later he incorporated the business and was awarded a $200,000 ship repair contract from the Chilean Navy. "It's just snowballed since then,' says Anawati, who today attributes 50 percent of his business to military contracts.
Eighteen months ago, Anawati moved his repair operations to a 40,000-square-foot facility on a five-acre site in Campbell Industrial Park. The remote Barbers Point location is ideal in that the area has about 320 days of good weather in which painting and sandblasting can be done, as compared to 250 at the state's Honolulu Harbor, Marisco's major competitor. What was lacking, however, was a pier where boats could be docked and repaired. "Fixing a vessel is not like fixing a piece of equipment,' he says. "They can't just pull up to the curb and call a tow truck.'
So, two years ago, when Anawati realized that it might be years before the state built a pier, he decided to take matters into his own hands. In May 1986, he completed work on a multi-million-dollar dry dock facility. "Everyone told me I was nuts to do such a big project,' Anawati says. "But when I say I'm going to do something, I do it.' The water surrounding the new dock has an average depth of 41 feet--a definite advantage over Honolulu Harbor's 32- to 34-foot depth.
But Anawati's business has grown so fast that he's had to make plans for the construction of another dock by the end of the year. "It's frustrating because when we bid for jobs at Pearl Harbor Shipyard, we can't schedule the work until we know we have the bid,' he says. "Then, if we get it, we have to hustle like crazy to do it and also keep our commitments to the commercial sector.' The new dock will permit Anawati to service the many Japanese and Korean long-liners who fish in Island waters. "It's a whole new market we'd like to harness,' he says. "Those vessels can buy their fuel and rice cheaper in Hawaii and can dry dock almost as competitively as in Korea or Japan.' The new business should increase Marisco's revenues by 35 to 40 percent.
As the dock master for the operation, Anawati maneuvers the vessels in and out of the harbor. "When I first went into this business, I never dreamed that one day I would dry dock a submarine, a very large ship or handle up to five dockings at a time,' he says. "We've only had the dock for a year and I've already done all those things. I hope I don't run out of challenges.'
For now, that seems unlikely. Anawati, who works a 60-hour week, plans to become a vocal spokesman and advocate for the state's marine industry. He would like to see state officials actively promote the hiring of local marine firms to repair foreign fishing vessels. "It's sad that the commercial marine industry is an orphan that nobody really cares about,' says Anawati. "I want to do what I can to change that.'
Photo: Anawati: His ship has come in at Marisco's $12-million dry dock.