The biggest window in Tony LaMantia's new corner office overlooks the Toledo Shipyard's dry docks, where he can keep a watchful eye - if necessary - on the skilled tradesmen working on ships like the Canadian freighter Algosteel, which left town on Friday after more than a month of repairs.
From other windows facing the Maumee River, the Ironhead Marine Inc. president's new office commands views of downtown Toledo and bridges up and down the river.
At Ironhead's former headquarters in Erie Township, "I was looking out at cornfields. Here, I have a nice view of the Toledo skyline, the new [1-280] bridge, and the shipyard," Mr. LaMantia said last week while boxes stacked next to his desk awaited unpacking.
But to watch the goings-on in the crown jewel of his company's new headquarters, the high-bay fabrication shop, Mr. LaMantia has to leave his Maumee River panorama behind and walk down the stairs. The high-bay has no interior windows.
There, Ironhead employees have started work on several ship-component fabrications, along with a heavy-industrial project for a railroad customer, even though, for ceremonial purposes, the building isn't even finished yet.
"We're still moving in," Mr. LaMantia said, "but it's getting better every day."
The 20,000-square-foot fabrication shop, with its 72-foot-high roof and 50-foot clearance under its traveling crane, is the first stage of what Toledo-Lucas County Port Authority officials hope will be a long-term revival for the port-owned Toledo Shipyard.
A grand-opening ceremony is scheduled for Friday afternoon.
The modern, if plain-looking, building replaces a decrepit, decades-old machine-shop complex that was torn down shortly after Ironhead formally took over the shipyard operation in early 2006, replacing Manitowoc Marine Group, which opted out of its shipyard lease the previous fall.
But construction was delayed for nearly a year by funding problems, and the facility that has been built is only half the size of what the port authority initially planned.
"We're waiting for the money to extend the building, and there is other infrastructure in the yard needing upgrades, including the docks, gates, and pumphouse," Mr. LaMantia said.
Nonetheless, he said, "the port authority has given me the opportunity to develop a new facility here, and we're one step closer to having a viable shipyard with these new facilities."
"It looks great. It looks like it's going to be certainly a major upgrade from the antiquated facilities that used to be there," James Hartung, the port authority president who toured the high-bay shop last week, said afterward.
Ironhead's aggressive pursuit of business, Mr. Hartung said, "just bodes well for us. We're going to create a market presence in the [shipyard] industry."
"What makes it look better is there's work going on inside it," agreed Warren McCrimmon, the port authority's seaport director.
The port authority, which paid for the $2 million structure from its own funds and county and federal grants and has leased it to Ironhead, continues to seek funding sources for its future expansion to 40,000 square feet, both port officials said.
The Algosteel, which came in for rudder and mechanical repairs along with topside work, was the first Canadian lake freighter to dry-dock in Toledo since 1999, Mr. LaMantia said.
Overall, he said, "we're going to do about twice as much work this winter as we did last winter, which was twice as much again as we did the winter before."
While no ships from the domestic Great Lakes fleet are scheduled for five-year surveys or heavy repairs this winter, Mr. LaMantia said, "We see that as a growth opportunity. We've had some promising talks. We're hoping that the American fleets are going to support the shipyard also."
Ironhead's projects are keeping about 70 workers busy, split about evenly between the shipyard premises and a fabrication shop near the International Cargo Docks that the firm has leased for several years.
Ironhead started in Erie Township as a heavy-industrial fabricator, and Mr. LaMantia said he's continuing with nonmaritime projects so that he's not dependent on the ship-repair sector.
But he remains optimistic that the shipyard can become involved in new vessel construction - particularly tugboats or barge sections - once the high-bay shop is built out to full size.
"We're building into the marine work, and trying to maintain our industrial work," he said. "We want to keep a core group of guys working here."
Contact David Patch at:
or 419-724-6094.60.35731 10.57197