SIU Captain Recieves Rare Honor

 

December 2012

 

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SIU member Capt. Kenneth Graybill has achieved something no mariner had done before.

 

Graybill recently became the first mariner receive Crowley Maritime Corporation’s Thomas Crowley award – an exclusive recognition that only a handful of the company’s 5,300 employees have gotten. Touted as Crowley’s highest honor, the Thomas Crowley Award has been presented to only 54 employees since its establishment in 1985. On Oct. 17, Graybill became the first person in company history to receive the award as a mariner.

 

“It was quite the honor,” Graybill said later. “It feels pretty good.”

 

Presenting the award to Graybill during a ceremony in Jacksonville, Fla., Crowley CEO Tom Crowley Jr.—the grandson of the company’s founder – said the event was meaningful for a variety of reasons.

 

“The honor for Capt. Graybill …takes on additional meaning not only because he is the first seagoing employee to be presented with this award, but also because he was nominated earlier this year by Capt. Vic Goldberg,” Crowley said.

 

Goldberg worked as vice president of marine operations for Crowley’s petroleum transportation group and died unexpectedly in October. In his nomination letter, Goldberg described Graybill as a natural leader.

 

“Capt. Graybill has been the sea trial master for all of [Crowley’s] new ATBs prior to their delivery. This requires long periods away from home during his vacation time,” Goldberg wrote. “Kenny has never refused to help when it is needed. I believe he measures up to all the values that this trophy embodies.”

 

Graybill said Goldberg was never far from his thoughts as he accepted the award.

 

“I was thinking about Capt. Goldberg a lot,” he said. “I was kind of speechless. I kept saying ‘wow’ and ‘thank you.’”

 

Graybill may have earned an unprecedented honor, but those who’ve known and worked with him say they weren’t surprised to hear about it. SIU Tacoma Port Agent Joe Vincenzo said he’s known Graybill for 10 years, adding he’s a living example of how someone can rise to the top of their profession with hard work and help from the SIU.

 

“It’s a big deal to see an SIU member get that award. It speaks straight to the heart of the quality of the membership,” Vincenzo said. “Cream rises to the top and he rose to the top. My experience with Ken is he’s been an upstanding member of the union and just a very dependable mate and now captain.”

 

SIU Ft. Lauderdale Port Agent Kris Hopkins, who has also worked with Graybill, said he wasn’t surprised to hear Graybill was being honored, either. Graybill’s reputation, he added, was that of a hard-working and fair guy.

 

“My dealings with him have always been good. My experience with him is he’s a great guy,” Hopkins said. “I could see how he got that award. The people on the crews all seemed to like him.”

 

Graybill, 52, lives in Brunswick, Maine, and has been sailing since 1979. He joined the SIU in 1998 and has worked for Crowley since 2002. He also has upgraded several times at the SIU-affiliated Paul Hall Center for Maritime Training and Education, located in Piney Point, Md.

 

“I have family that went to sea – my father and uncles – and I got caught up in that. Where I come from you either went fishing or went to sea,” Graybill said, adding that his family back home was excited to hear about the award. “They’re all proud of me.”

 

Recipients of the Thomas Crowley Award receive a limited edition bronze statue depicting company founder Thomas Crowley ferrying goods to and from ships on San Francisco Bay in the 1890s. According to Crowley’s website, the trophy “serves not only as a tribute to the founder of the company, but also to those honorees who have aligned themselves closely with the company’s values displaying outstanding performance, dedication, leadership and initiative.”

 

Graybill said those characteristics could also describe the SIU and the Seafarers he works with. The award, he added, honors their hard work as well.

 

“We have professional people in our union who do a good job for these companies,” he said. “It shows we have some good mariners.”

 

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