JEANERETTE — Metal Shark Boats plans to more than double its workforce to about 180 positions after securing an order for 500 U.S. Coast Guard patrol boats under a $192 million contract, company officials announced Monday.
The announcement marks the latest growth spurt for a Jeanerette boat builder that has seen business rise dramatically since shifting focus from recreational boats to government contracts about seven years ago.
The company won the $192 million U.S. Coast Guard contract in November and has already begun adding to what had been a workforce of 75, said Metal Shark Chief Operating Officer Matthew Unger.
“Our projection is we will be adding about 100 jobs over the next three years,” Unger said.
The Coast Guard contract is to build 500 29-foot patrol boats over the next seven years, he said.
The boats will be used for a wide range of work, including security patrols, search-and-rescue missions and drug enforcement, according to information from Gov. Bobby Jindal’s office.
Jindal spoke at the Jeanerette business Monday to announce the expansion.
Metal Shark has other ongoing government projects and has built boats for the U.S. Navy, the U.S. Army, law enforcement and emergency response agencies.
Unger said the need for more workers is a combination of the new Coast Guard contract and strong growth in general.
The company is also planning a $1.9 million investment in equipment and new manufacturing space to accommodate the growing workload, he said.
Metal Shark Boats and the state’s Department of Economic Development are holding a job fair from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Friday at the New Iberia campus of the South Louisiana Community College.
Starting salaries for the positions at Metal Shark average about $45,000 in addition to benefits.
The company is seeking applicants for general shop hands and in several trades, including welders, fitters, marine mechanics and electricians, according to information from the state.