After 35 years at Foss Maritime, Scott Merritt, acting senior vice president and former chief operating officer of the marine transportation service, retired on January 4. Merritt is leaving after several decades of helping to guide Foss through the ups and downs of a challenging industry.
Merritt joined the company in 1983 as a dispatcher after receiving his Bachelor of Applied Science from Cal Maritime. He worked in several other positions in Seattle until 1993, when he became the first manager of Foss’s new San Francisco Bay operation. Merritt oversaw the growth of Foss in the region from one tug to a service that provided everything from tanker escort to sand dredging.
Merritt returned to Seattle in 2005 to become senior vice president of Harbor Service and Regional Towing, then senior vice president of operations, and finally COO. During the last 15 years, Foss performed five sealifts for oil development projects on Sakhalin Island in the Siberian Arctic and operates the barge that moves the satellite launch vehicles from Decatur, Alabama, to Cape Canaveral and Vandenberg Air Force Base in California. This variety of jobs is in sharp contrast to when Merritt first started at Foss, when most of the transportation services revolved around the wood products industry.
“Foss has a unique ability to reinvent itself and adapt to change in the marketplace,” Merritt said in an interview with Foss’s Tow Bitts magazine. “There are a lot of tug-and-barge companies out there with 100-plus-year legacies, but I haven’t seen another one that has been able to think outside of the box and seize opportunities in emerging markets the way we have.”
Merritt said that one of the challenges and rewards of working at Foss was creating opportunities for an “incredibly talented, hardworking, and smart” employee group. “On our website and in our ads, we talk about our great equipment and big projects, but nothing ever leaves the dock without good people.” Foss CEO John Parrott said that “[Merritt] has truly been giving it his all, right up until his very last day. I salute Scott for his years of dedicated service, for his help and council…” Merritt was succeeded as COO by former chief commercial officer Will Roberts.